Duo backed by Najib sweep Umno polls

Duo backed by Najib sweep Umno polls
From left, Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, Women's wing chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and new face Mas Ermieyati Samsudin celebrating after the unofficial results of Umno's party polls on Saturday.

Two incumbent leaders backed by Umno president Najib Razak won resounding victories in party polls over the weekend, their large margins crushing talk of his losing ground to other factions.

Still, analysts warned that it is too early to say if this will consolidate the positions of the incumbent vice-presidents, as they face a greater challenge at their elections this weekend.

"Considering that Najib did worse than (former premier) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the May elections, he must ensure his faction dominates in the party elections," said Professor Faisal Hazis of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.

In official results tweeted by the Utusan Online news portal, Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, seen as a progressive leader, won 189 out of a total of 191 divisional votes, or 99 per cent.

In a new voting system at the triennial polls, some 80,000 youth leaders in the 191 divisions cast ballots which were tallied as one vote under each division.

In the vote for women's wing chief, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil defied critics who say her influence is waning by winning in 172 divisions or 90 per cent of the divisional votes. Her closest challenger, Datuk Maznah Mazlan, received eight votes. The third wing, Puteri Umno, consisting of women under 40, elected new face Mas Ermieyati Samsudin as its chief in a straight fight.

Prime Minister Najib had indicated indirectly before the polls he wanted the incumbents to be retained. He had made Mr Khairy the Youth and Sports Minister after the May general election.

Two months ago, he made Madam Shahrizat his special adviser to women's affairs with the rank of minister, despite misgivings among some members as her name is tainted by a financial scandal involving her family members.

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