SINGAPORE: IT'S official: Six candidates will do battle for three vice-president posts in the ruling Umno party's closely watched polls next month.
Chairman of Umno's election committee Tajol Rosli Ghazali told a packed news conference yesterday that none of the six vice-president contestants had pulled out in the three-day cooling-off period since nominations.
The challengers are the youngest son of former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir; and two popular former state chief ministers, Tan Sri Isa Samad of Negeri Sembilan and Datuk Seri Ali Rustam of Malacca.
Defending their turf are the three ministers who have said they work well together - Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Rural and Regional Development Minister Shafie Apdal.
Polls for Umno, Malaysia's biggest political party with 3.4 million members, are usually held every three years, but were postponed last year due to the impending general elections.
The posts of Umno president and deputy president - held by Prime Minister Najib Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin - were unchallenged.
In Malaysia, the two top Umno positions automatically make them Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. The vice-presidents are an important platform as they are the next in line.
There are other heated contests shaping up, including a three-way tussle to head the women's wing and a five-way fight for the youth wing chief's post.
There are 64 contestants for the 25 elected seats in the Supreme Council, Umno's decision-making body that is often seen as more powerful than the Malaysian Cabinet.