PETALING JAYA: Today is the “D-Day” for Umno’s three wings as over 200,000 delegates go to the polls to choose their respective leaders for the next three years.
Although the two incumbents for Wanita and Youth chiefs look set to win, there is still a possibility that they may not survive beyond their first terms.
In 2009, Wanita chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil won the Wanita chief post after defeating long-serving former chief Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz following a bitter campaign.
Khairy Jamaluddin’s leadership of Umno Youth has been persistently criticised ever since he won the post during the same election against former Selangor Mentri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo and now Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.
For Khairy and Shahrizat, a mere win may not be enough as they need to win with a strong mandate because a drop in the level of support can signal trouble for them for the next three years.
The margin of votes secured will be crucial for the winners to silence criticisms against them.
For the Wanita chief race, contender Datuk Maznah Mazlan, who is Muadzam Shah assemblyman, will be the one to watch as she has received an official backing from Pahang Umno chief Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob.
The other contender, Raihan Sulaiman, though lesser known than Maznah has been active on the social media and could garner some support.
For Umno Youth, the candidate widely seen as the main challenger to Khairy is Akhramsyah Sanusi and he is no pushover as he has received an endorsement from Mukhriz.
The race for the Puteri chief post is more sedate, as it involves two new contenders after the incumbent, Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin, is no longer eligible to defend her post as she is over 40.
The party’s new election process would also be put to test today as the massive number of delegates cast their votes not just to elect the three wings’ national leadership line-up, but also that of their respective divisions.
The results for the party polls are expected to be known as early as 8pm.
According to Umno, the announcement of the results would not be delayed as they would be announced immediately after they are verified by the headquarters.