Power sharing a sign of Zahid’s weakening hold?

Umno’s new election candidate selection process, involving the party’s top three leaders, is likely to weaken Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s hold on power as party president, say two analysts.

(FMT) – Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya said the candidate list was previously decided by the president. The latest decision to include deputy president Mohamad Hasan and vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob may curb Zahid’s power to choose candidates he sees fit.

However, the new move could also be based on the fact that the Umno president is not the prime minister but it is Ismail, a vice-president, who is prime minister.

Zahid, who is also chairman of Barisan Nasional, said that the BN chairman would have the final say over candidates proposed by Umno, but Awang Azman said Zahid would not be able to reject all the candidates proposed as there would be a conflict of interest.

“He has to accept at least some of the names proposed,” Awang Azman told FMT.

He said the move could also be a way to pacify different camps in Umno and to ensure the candidates will be from all three teams.

On the criteria for choosing only winnable, acceptable and likeable candidates, Awang Azman said: “It is very subjective.”

Academician Azmi Hassan said the naming of the selection team could be a move to unite all camps within Umno after the recent turmoil over support for Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister. Several MPs were seen to back Muhyiddin while Zahid had declared that Umno was withdrawing its support from him as prime minister.

Azmi said more details should be given about the criteria of “winnable, acceptable and likeable” candidates. “It looks nice on paper but isn’t that the basic character a politician should have,” he said. More details of the criteria should be given to avoid misinterpretation.