SERIOUS ISSUE: Umno must analyse what led qualified and senior members to go against instructions from the party's leaders
THERE were far too many stories to be written from the nomination centres yesterday. Anxiety was written all over the faces of the candidates nominated to contest by their parties.
And this anxiety will persist for the next two weeks as intensified campaigning starts for the nation's 13th General Election.
Yesterday, I took a drive to Pekan to get a feel of the mood on the ground. It was no different from the scene in 2008. Party supporters had gathered at their respective local party headquarters very early in the morning.
The scene was orderly. Barisan Nasional supporters walked behind Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is seeking to be MP for the ninth time. "You'll never walk alone Datuk Seri," I remarked to him.
"You'll never walk alone" is the battle cry of the great English team, Liverpool, winners of at least three European Cups in the 1980s. Najib is a Manchester United supporter, looking for a mandate of his own.
A senior police officer on duty commented that crowd control was not difficult, compared with a by-election. In a by-election, the parties would focus all their energy in the contested area and this sometimes leads to skirmishes.
Until the returning officer from the Election Commission announces the successful candidates to contest, all candidates, with no exception, would have butterflies in their tummy. A couple of days before nomination papers are filed, lawyers would help candidates fill the nomination forms correctly, even if they had done so several times in the past.
While waiting for the returning officer to make the announcement, the group I was with was abuzz that an opposition candidate in Paya Rumput, Malacca, could be disqualified on technical grounds. If so, Barisan Nasional would have got one "free" seat.
But this wasn't so. In the past, this could have been so, but the EC now does not disqualify a person unless there's very strong and compelling reasons.
It was almost the same at Seputeh where the DAP faces a challenger from BN. The MCA candidate had worn a shirt with the party symbol which led to complaints from the DAP. Again, the EC official did the wise thing by asking the MCA candidate to wear a vest to cover the party symbol.
And yet there are accusations that the EC is out to create problems for Pakatan Rakyat parties in the election.
The social media was also congested with updates from all over the country. It was on Facebook that I saw Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim joining hands with new BN candidates as they made their way to the nomination centre in Jelebu.
Earlier speculation that Rais, the veteran politician, would sulk and not partake in today's proceedings were obviously naughty. He seems to be a party man after all. Syabas!
A new element surfaced in Pasir Mas, Kelantan. The BN candidate, Che Johan Che Pa, did not submit his nomination papers even though he was already in the centre with the other candidates.
Thus, Pasir Mas will see a straight fight between Datuk Ibrahim Ali, a pro-BN independent candidate and Pas' Nik Abduh Nik Aziz. Nik Abduh's father is the spiritual leader of Pas and the former Kelantan menteri besar in the just dissolved state assembly.
I later learnt that Che Johan is a protégé of Ibrahim, someone whom the latter had groomed and tutored politically. Could there have been a side deal? Or could it be a case of a protégé who, at the last minute, felt it would be unwise to go against his tutor and mentor?
And what about Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim, who was immediately sacked as an Umno member when she decided to stand as an independent candidate in Kuala Kangsar? She was the number two in Wanita Umno.
In her Facebook posting, she said she resigned. She knows that her sacking would be automatic since the party has already made known that this would be the price for anyone going against the party.
Umno would have to dig deep to analyse this. The loss of qualified and senior people cannot be taken lightly; as do party leaders who disobey decisions such as that made by Kamilia.
Ahmad A. Talib | firstname.lastname@example.org is Media Prima executive director of news and editorial New Straits Times Columnist 21 Apr 2013