GE13: ‘Two dragons’ giving way 

Mohd Zin and Noh have declared that they are not after the mentri besar post, paving the way for Barisan Nasional to make Selangor the epicentre state in the general election.

Joceline Tan, The Star 

THE big question of who will be Barisan Nasional’s candidate for mentri besar is still blowing in the wind. No one in Barisan is quite sure who it will be.

But what many are sure of is that two of Selangor’s most prominent Umno leaders have declared that they will not be going for the MB post.

Datuk Seri Mohd Zin Mohamed and Datuk Seri Noh Omar openly said at a recent political retreat in Shah Alam that they had informed the Prime Minister of their stand.

Noh, who is Tanjung Karang MP and Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister, was the first to broach this touchy subject before the gathering of about 200 multi-level grassroots leaders from all state Barisan component parties.

For Noh, it is also about coming to terms with the new political landscape in Selangor. The Umno strongman has been unable to live down that “pendatang” remark made during the Hulu Selangor by-election back in 2010 and it sort of sealed his fate for bigger things in the state.

He told the gathering that he is happy to remain a candidate for a parliamentary seat in Selangor which would effectively put him out of the running for the MB post.

“Why would I want to be MB? I am not exaggerating, I am telling everyone that I am not chasing the post. This is my fourth term as an MP. I have been a parliamentary secretary, deputy minister and now minister.

“If I contest again, it will be my fifth term as a wakil rakyat. Even if I am not nominated, I promise, I will work for the party,” he said to loud applause.

Mohd Zin, who is Sepang MP and Selangor Barisan coordinator, was also greeted by applause when he said that he had informed Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that he was not interested in the MB post.

“It does not make sense to squabble for the MB post. We prefer to see ourselves as Team Najib,” he said.

He assured everyone that he was quite satisfied being an MP. He also drew laughter when he joked that the Selangor MB’s post was too hot to handle and that life would be simpler being an ordinary MP or perhaps an ambassador.

“They are big names. They are like the dragons of Selangor. The message we got was that they are putting the party’s interest above their own. That gives PM the freedom to decide,” said Kapar Umno deputy chief Datuk Faizal Abdullah.

Najib is said to be very pleased with the work put in by Mohd Zin who was initially Selangor Umno secretary. Last year Najib promoted him to state Barisan coordinator and last month, he was made deputy state election director.

Mohd Zin is not only hardworking, but has injected a lot of thinking and strategy into Barisan’s comeback quest in Selangor. He has built up an impressive war room and some are even talking about the Selangor model being made a political prototype.

Both men have given their commitment to Najib, who is the Selangor Barisan chief. Najib is said to have two or three names in mind for the post. He does not intend to announce the names until the time is right.

He has told selected circles that if Barisan is successful in Selangor, he will present the names to the Sultan of Selangor and if Tuanku has no objection to any of the names, he will exercise his prerogative to pick the MB of his choice.

He respects the Palace, he understands protocol and he intends to observe the procedure.

By now it is amply clear that Barisan is hungry to regain Selangor. All their efforts and preparations of the last five years are about to come to this moment.

There has been a lot of hoopla about Johor being the Pakatan frontline state, but the big battleground will be Selangor.

The mood among the Barisan players, especially Umno, is very high. Selangor has 56 state seats of which Pakatan controls 32, Barisan 20 and one by an independent.

“The PM has told us very clearly that he is not interested in hearing feel-good fairy tales. He does not want us to tell him bedtime stories or sing nice songs. He wants the hard facts,” said Faizal, who is also deputy treasurer of the state Barisan.

At the last state Barisan meeting, Najib informed those present that he had a good feeling about the election. Everywhere he has gone, people of all races have given him an enthusiastic reception. He recalled that some even try to hug him and he can feel their warmth and friendship.

Everyone laughed when he said: “Insyallah, I pray it will also translate into votes.”

The Selangor manifesto is ready and Faizal who has had a sneak preview of it said that it is a comprehensive document that reaches out to everyone.

“More important, it is not empty promises,” said Faizal.

The word is out that Barisan is confident of taking 32 seats. It has conceded 14 black seats held mainly by DAP while another 10 seats are considered as grey seats. The casualties in Selangor will be PAS and PKR, especially in seats where Malays form the bulk of voters.

“Selangor will be the epicentre. Our aim is to ensure that Selangor will be the first state to achieve a high-income economy,” said Mohd Zin.