Mohd Ali joins race for Umno vice-presidency

KUALA LUMPUR - Two former chief ministers from Malacca are joining the race for the seats in the Umno elections, making it three veterans bidding to be the "comeback kids" at the party polls next month.

Yesterday, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam announced he was going for the vice-presidency, joining former Negri Sembilan mentri besar Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad who had thrown his hat into the ring when he announced his intention to run for the post last month.

At the same time, another ex-Malacca chief minister Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, 63, confirmed he would be making a bid for a supreme council seat.

Current vice-presidents Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal have already stated their intention to defend their posts.

Mohd Ali, who served as Malacca chief minister for 14 years until the May 5 general election, said his decision to join the VP race was not to deny the incumbents from seeking re-election.

"My intention is to defend the party's core struggle, which is to uphold the interests of Islam, the Malays and Malaysia," he said at a Hari Raya do here.

He had contested in the Bukit Katil parliamentary seat in GE13 but lost to PKR Youth leader Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin.

The 64-year-old Mohd Ali was elected Umno vice-president in 2004 but was not allowed to contest for the deputy presidency in 2009 after he was found to have violated party elections regulations.

Rahim said he would be offering himself to contest one of the 25 elec­ted seats in the supreme council, Umno's top decision-making body.

"While there is a need for fresh faces and young blood, Umno also needs the experience of older leaders. I believe I can make a contribution," he told The Star.

Rahim helmed Malacca from 1982 to 1994 and was Umno Youth chief from 1993 to 1996. He failed in his bid for the vice-presidency in 2009.

Isa, 64, won the Umno vice-presidency in 2004 with the highest number of votes but was suspended from holding any party post for three years after he was found guilty of money politics.

He was removed as Federal Terri­tory minister in 2005. He made another bid for the vice-presidency in 2009 but failed.

In BENTONG, Isa advised Umno leaders aspiring to contest in the party elections to be prepared to accept defeat.

He also reminded that campaigning must not go to the extent of running down fellow candidates.

"I hope all aspirants campaign in a healthy manner and adhere to the guidelines stipulated by the party.

"Once the elections are over and done with, all must come together again and give their undivided support to the victors," the Felda chairman said at a Hari Raya gathering in Felda Mempaga near here yesterday.

Isa had cited his experience as a factor for joining the race, adding that he had much to contribute to strengthen the party.

In ALOR SETAR, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir brushed aside reports he would be going for a vice-president's post as "just speculation".

"The information did not come from me or from my friends.

"I will announce in due time whether I will contest in the party and for what post," the Kedah Mentri Besar said after chairing the state executive council meeting.