Time to cut the Umno cake differently?

The candidacy of just two Sabahans – federal minister Shafie Apdal and Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan – is telling of the frailty in Sabah Umno. 

Jude Wang, FMT

Things have not been going brilliantly for Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman. For one he’s been forced to concede that he will not be contesting for the vice-president’s post in the Umno elections next month.

That zinger came on Sept 15, on the eve of Malaysia Day, when Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was here to launch the 50th anniversary celebration and Musa was questioned on his plans following hints that he would contest for a top post or defend his Supreme Council seat in the party.

His statement just days before party nominations closed that he had deliberated much before deciding not to go for both posts was viewed as suspicious.

Adding to the incredulity was his explanation that much still needed to be done to further develop and improve Sabah which begged the question what he had been doing over the last 10 years he ‘ruled’ the state.

Earlier this year there was talk that he would step down as chief minister of the state next year. Speaker Salleh Said Keruak is said to be the leading contender to take over in a pre-election deal worked out with Kuala Lumpur.

The about turn raises speculation about what was offered in return for opting out of the VP race. A full term as chief minister perhaps?

In which case Salleh, who was cheering him on as a potential veep candidates, is now left dangling.

To maintain a firm hold on the party and by extension Sabah, a strategy can be seen emerging through the number of Umno leaders said to be aligned to the 62-year-old Musa as they position themselves to contest or re-contest their divisional posts.

In the past few months minor-league Umno leaders here have been sending out a flurry of signals at divisional level and this may well tell more about Sabah’s future.

The first thing revealed is that the Umno leadership in the state is not as unassailable and steady as many believe and it is only a matter of time that their hold loosens.