PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia - Coming from a power house state will no longer guarantee victory at the Umno elections under the new party election system.
Dispelling the notion that Sabah Umno candidates stood a good chance of winning because of the state's "influence", vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said candidates now needed a good mix of support from all states in order to win.
Under the new system where each division carries one vote, full support from Sabah will only amount to 25 out of the 191 votes available. In addition, "horse trading" between states is harder to do since the number of delegates is too large for any leader to have control over.
"People can't make the assumption candidates from Sabah are sure to win because there are only 25 divisions in the state and you need to secure votes from about 100 divisions to win a position," he said in an interview.
Shafie said he was not unduly worried that Sabah Umno had not openly backed him as its candidate for the vice-presidency, just like what Johor Umno had done to his fellow vice-president, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
He was confident that even if state party chief Datuk Seri Musa Amad had decided to contest for the same post, there would still be support for him from Sabah Umno.
Denying that there was a rift between him and the Sabah Chief Minister, Shafie however thanked his "political rival" for not contesting.
"It is a good signal and I would like to say thank you to him. I am confident that this gesture by Musa is a sign of the strong camaraderie in Umno," said Shafie.