PARTY POLLS: Umno veterans hope members will close ranks after the election
ATTENDEES at the recent Hari Raya-cum-Merdeka Day open house at the state Umno Building in Ipoh cannot be faulted for mistaking it to campaigning during the 13th General Election.
The event was hosted by Perak Wanita Umno, with the wing's chief, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, in attendance. Several big names among the national and state Wanita Umno were on hand to meet and greet the crowd.
Yes, it is that time again where Umno bigwigs compete among themselves for a coveted post in the country's largest political party.
Nationwide, several big names have come forward to offer themselves to contest one post or another, while others have graciously stepped aside to make way for "young and fresh blood" in the party elections next month.
Perak is no exception.
With little more than a month to go, it is election talk in almost every nook and corner of the state -- from roadside warung right up to official Umno functions.
While some have offered themselves to contest Umno supreme council posts, others like Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah and Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz have opted out from the elections.
Husni is not defending his Umno supreme council post to focus on his ministerial duties, while Nazri has not contested for the past 10 years since 2003.
As expected, they have been hailed as exemplary leaders who put the party's interests above self.
Leaders in other Barisan Nasional component parties, who are having their party elections at almost the same time, could also take the cue from Husni and Nazri -- leave when you are still able to lift your head up high.
No doubt, for Umno to stay relevant, the party needs to be rejuvenated from time to time to allow the regeneration process to take place.
Spotted at the open house last Monday, which was attended by hundreds of the wing's leaders and members, including some outsiders, were Kamariah Mat Jusuh, 65, and Piah Kasim, 65.
They are good friends, neighbours, and Umno veterans.
The elderly makcik came all the way from Kampung Simpang Perah Lama, Jalan Kuala Rui, Gerik, a two-hour drive to Ipoh. One of them is still recovering from a stroke suffered about a year ago.
The passion that Kamariah and Piah have for their beloved party was evident as soon as they spoke about the party elections.
In thick Hulu Perak dialect, Kamariah's advice to Umno aspirants contesting in the party polls was: "Jangan gaduh-gaduh... Buatlah baik baik. Yang menang, Alhamdullilah."
She also reminded those who win in the elections not to gloat about themselves and forget the people who helped secure their victory. The more quiet and reserved Piah echoed Kamariah's sentiment, nodding her head each time her friend said something. Kamariah hopes elected leaders in Umno remain humble and willing to serve the people.
"There is no need for sour faces or throwing of tantrums by the losers. It is not like this is the last party elections. They can always try again the next time."
After all, this is a fight among "family members". Once the fight is over, the family gets back together.
In Perak, three incumbent Umno supreme council members -- Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin and former Syarikat Perumahan Negara Berhad chairman Datuk Azian Osman -- will be defending their posts.
Lenggong member of parliament Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah has also offered himself to contest a supreme council post, while Wanita Umno information chief Datuk Hamidah Osman has also been nominated by the wing.
Ipoh Barat Umno division Puteri chief Isfarina Mohd Bali will also be defending her exco post in the movement.
State Umno Youth chief Khairul Azwan Haron and Ipoh Barat Umno Youth chief Syamsul Baharin Putra Ahmad Shibi will contest the wing's vice chief and exco posts respectively.
Audrey Mellani Dermawan | email@example.com New Straits Times Home News Opinion Columnist 16 September 2013