Could Zahid be the biggest victor in the Melaka ‘change of guard’?

MELAKA UMNO heavyweight Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh may be the state’s likeliest 13th Chief Minister (CM) when the swearing-in ceremony takes place after today’s Friday prayers today but the biggest winner in the power transition game could be party president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Political analysts believe that the stepping down of Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali from his post on Wednesday (March 29) would cement president Zahid’s grip on the party while sending a signal that UMNO is strong and dependable.

This would ultimately benefit its federal partners in the coming state elections.

In fact, the resignation of Sulaiman who is also the Lendu assemblyman as CM reflected a “clean-up” within the party by Zahid, according to Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research senior fellow Dr Azmi Hassan.

After all, with rife speculation that Sulaiman was not part of the “president’s men”, the CM change is deemed to do UMNO good as those who opposed Zahid had lost out on securing key positions.

“This will make UMNO stronger. Looking at the situation in Melaka, the president has a tighter hold on the party, thus putting it in a stable position,” Azmi told the New Straits Times (NST).

“Previously, during the 15th General Election (GE15), there was a lot of internal conflict and sabotage among its members. Now, this could send a message to the voters that UMNO is strong and dependable. This will eventually benefit the party and the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition in the upcoming state elections.”

Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh

For the record, Zahid had on yesterday (March 30) conveyed the nomination of Rauf who is UMNO’s Melaka chief and Tanjung Bidara assemblyman as the state’s next CM to Melaka Governor Tun Mohd Ali Rustam via a warkah (letter) with a request to accept the resignation of Sulaiman.

Meanwhile, political analyst Dr Ainul Adzellie Hasnul viewed Sulaiman’s resignation as a “due process”.

“The change was not made immediately after GE15 as he was then considered the person best suited to helm the post,” he justified. “However, he is no longer the Melaka UMNO liaison committee chairman (Rauf now holds the post. Traditionally, the chairman will be the CM.”

Ainul went on to explain that although the new CM would need to be from UMNO as the party held the majority of seats won during the Nov 20, 2021 state polls, the situation has changed as UMNO is now part of the unity government at the Federal level.

“As such, the next person best suited for the CM post is Adly Zahari, the Melaka PH chairman, besides other BN (Barisan Nasional) candidates,” he added. – March 31, 2023

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