Who is brave enough to challenge Zahid?

06 Jan 2023 10:54am
No Image Caption
SHAH ALAM - Umno vice president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Barisan Nasional (BN) treasurer-general Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar are among the candidates with the potential to challenge party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in the Umno elections.

According to Sociocultural Research Centre (Saudara) Executive Director Lim Hong Siang these three big names in Umno are expected to challenge Zahid for the top post of the party, as they have openly rejected the narrative of Umno-BN cooperating with Pakatan Harapan (PH) after the 15th general election.

These leaders were also more likely to establish political ties with Perikatan Nasional (PN).


Lim elaborated that if any one of these three leaders intended to challenge Zahid and later were victorious in their pursuit for the position of party president, this would bring about a major impact towards the stability of the unity government.

" As for the potential for each candidate from an outsider's perspective, Khairy is seen as the more popular candidate as members might be confident in his ability to implement the reform agenda within the party. The only drawback is that he does not hold any position within the party and is not even an MP

" As for Ismail Sabri's abilities, he seems to have a modest personality and does not seem to be prominent in the party this could suggest that he would not challenge Zahid

" Many consider Hishammuddin as the candidate with the most potential in this election however, the negative image he received after refusing to contest in the 2018 Umno election while his service was needed by the party may have given a major effect towards his chances.

"With Umno now divided to camps that did not agree with the narrative of cooperating with PH and those who side with the Umno president, candidates with the most potential of challenging Zahid need to agree among themselves to ensure that the competition for the party's highest position is a one-on-one competition so as not to split the vote," he said to Sinar on Thursday.

Related Articles:

Lim was commenting on Zahid's statement where he had said that he was prepared to face any challenges from any candidates for Umno's top position in the upcoming party elections.

Lim went on to say that there were two important factors that need to be considered in the Umno election - mainly what image the party would like to present going forward and the need for a stable government in the current political landscape.

"If the status quo remained and Zahid stays on as president , it would be difficult for Umno to convince the public that the party was committed to change, it should strive to at least be a party clean from corruption.

"The corrupt image will remain rooted in Umno's identity and it would cause the party to lose more support from voters especially among the Malays.

"However, the major dilemma faced by Umno is that there is a possibility that the stability of the unity government will be threatened if the president changes," Lim explained.

Meanwhile Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Malay Rulers Institution Chair Fellow Mujibu Abdul Muis said it was still unclear as to who could challenge Zahid even though several Umno big names have been rumoured to be potential challengers for the position of president

Mujibu said it was a possibility that Zahid could win the party elections without contesting, if the Bagan Datuk MP successfully utilised the upcoming assembly to explain the rationale behind the Umno-BN and PH cooperation post-GE15.


"If both top leadership positions were contested, the election process would be difficult to separate from the context of patronage of power where party leaders who hold government positions will have a great advantage in winning it.

"The strength of the Umno camp that rejects the BN-PH cooperation to overthrow the incumbent president is still not visible, it was as if no party member was really brave except Khairy," he said.