As expected, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi won the Presidential Elections of UMNO, defeating the best efforts of Khairy Jamaluddin (KJ) and Tengku Razaleigh Tengku Hamzah (Ku Li).
The fight for the position this time round was a closely watched one by the nation - both UMNO and non-UMNO-ites. This is especially so after the defeat suffered by Barisan Nasional in the last general elections and the inevitable resignation of party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The race was also a very close one for Zahid, KJ and Ku Li and the public watched the candidates battle it out in a televised national debate for the first time on national television broadcast by Astro AWANI.
With his akar-umbi (grassroots) battle cry, Zahid seemed to have touched the sentiments of the UMNO people by showing that he intends to heed opinion from the bottom up
Zahid was seen by UMNO grassroot members as the one who would be able to bring the party to the fore, once again.
With his akar-umbi (grassroots) battle cry, Zahid seemed to have touched the sentiments of the UMNO people by showing that he intends to heed opinion from the bottom up. He came across as being the more decisive compared to his opponents.
Furthermore, Zahid had already been preparing for this battle before the GE for he was the DPM and UMNO Deputy President then. And as the shrewd politician, Zahid would have known that sooner or later, Najib would be caught in the 1MDB net and he would have to step up.
Ku Li, 81, was seen as playing the old game of his - and is from the era of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad - and was deemed irrelevant. For many of the 191 delegates also, who were the ones voting, Ku Li had once turned against UMNO by setting up Semangat 46 in 1988 after losing the then Presidential elections to Mahathir.
Ku Li may have had some foresight about the result as he said he would concede defeat gracefully should he lose even before the battle commenced. Despite his popularity as a former Finance Minister and one who has managed to hang on to the Gua Musang seat for 12 consecutive terms, Ku Li lagged far behind Zahid and KJ with the 23 number of votes received.
Meanwhile, former Youth Chief KJ has obviously managed to garner a degree of support, as he clinching 51 votes.
Although he was seen as one who turned his back on Najib, KJ was seen as one who had ideas to reform the party. Yet, the results seem to state that the delegates who think UMNO should be reformed are far fewer than those who think Zahid has better ability to make UMNO great again, never mind if it is in the same mould when it lost in the last GE.
Zahid now has to carry the UMNO torch - a tremendous undertaking as it is now the opposition after being the ruling party all its life. It is obvious UMNO delegates have stated their stand to Zahid with their 93 votes - make UMNO stand tall again by all means. Reform is secondary. Do it, Zahid, just do it, whatever it takes, the votes seem to say.
As for the people outside UMNO, the Presidential Elections was all over when their popcorn finished. UMNO has Zahid as the new President, no big news.
(The two other lesser known contenders for the post are Bandar Tun Razak Division member Mohamed Iqbal Maricair and Iskandar Puteri Division member Mohd Yusof Musa @ Jamaluddin. They failed to get any votes.)
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