PETALING JAYA: There is strong support among Umno grassroots for Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Khairy Jamaluddin to take over the party leadership ahead of party polls this weekend, but most of the 191 division chiefs are likely to throw their weight behind acting president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Speaking to FMT, an Umno division chief said the trend was a reflection of the party’s “warlord mentality”.
“It’s difficult to break,” he said.
Zahid, Razaleigh and Khairy, and two other less known candidates, Mohamed Iqbal Maricair and Mohd Yusof Musa, are contesting for the Umno presidency, the party’s first contest for the top post since divisive elections more than three decades ago.
The division leader said support for Zahid was unanimous among division chiefs in Sabah, he added.
“They are different from Peninsula. The delegates would listen to the chief,” he said.
A drawback for Razaleigh and Khairy is that they are not as well known in East Malaysia as in the Peninsula.
Even more for Khairy, who he said “is treated as a celebrity”.
Yet, it does not mean the former Umno Youth chief would win.
“His popularity is such that people who are not voting in the Umno polls want him to win.”
Meanwhile, Ku Li, who was once close to winning the Umno presidency when he narrowly lost to Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1987, still enjoys support nationwide.
An Umno division chief from Johor said Ku Li has strong support in the state.
Some 146,000 members will cast their votes to choose Umno’s top leaders, more than a month after the party’s historic defeat in the May 9 polls.
In division-level elections last week, 74 of the 191 division chiefs retained their posts uncontested.