Malaysian Defence Minister dismisses survey ranking him as future PM

Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein

PUTRAJAYA - Datuk Seri Hisham-muddin Hussein has described a survey ranking him as the first choice for prime minister to replace Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as an attempt to destabilise Umno.

The Defence Minister, who is also Umno vice-president, said he never took the survey carried out by Merdeka Centre seriously.

"(I) don't depend too much on surveys. There was one a few months back during the Umno general assembly that I was not even competent to be a vice-president.

"In the next few months, there could be a survey that I am there to take over as prime minister. That itself answers the level of reliance I personally put on such surveys," he told reporters after checking on the progress of the five-week laboratory to study improvements for the National Service training programme here yesterday.

"This (survey) is an attempt to pit Umno leaders against each other," he said.

Hishammuddin was responding to the findings of the survey that had 19.8 per cent of the 1,008 respondents polled from Jan 21 to 30 preferring him as the future prime minister over his peers - Khairy Jamaluddin (8.6 per cent) and Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (8.4 per cent), and Opposition leaders Rafizi Ramli (3.9 per cent), Mohamed Azmin Ali (3.7 per cent) and Nurul Izzah Anwar (1.7 per cent).

The survey also revealed that most respondents (19.4 per cent) wanted Hishammuddin to lead Barisan Nasional if or after Najib and his party deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had retired.

Hishammuddin added that his focus was to strengthen both Umno and Barisan.

Asked if he would be prepared to assume the post when the time comes, he said: "That matter doesn't even arise now so I won't entertain that question, especially not when it is a survey."