LAST_UPDATESun, 20 May 2018 9pm

Mukhriz's First Outing Praised

altaltPUTRAJAYA: The Umno president and his deputy offered words of encouragement and consolation to Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir for his narrow defeat in the vice-presidential race, describing it as a “victory in defeat”.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Mukhriz had an impressive first outing as he received almost half of the total of 191 Umno divisions.

“I feel Mukhriz has shown a most encouraging performance although he is new and had announced his intention to contest rather late. He has shown that he has good support in the party,” said Najib at a joint press conference with Muhyiddin.

The contest for the three vice-presidents posts saw Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi emerge tops with 185 votes, followed by Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal with 174 votes.

Mukhriz narrowly lost the opportunity to take the third seat when he received 91 votes compared to Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein’s 100 votes.

The two other challengers – Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad and Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam – only managed to secure seven votes each.

When asked to comment on the tight race between Hishammuddin and Mukhriz, Najib said this was a contest between popular leaders where both had their own group of supporters.

“We should regard it as a healthy competition and a contest within a family,” he said.

Najib also again denied claims he had issued instructions for the three incumbents to be retained, stressing there was no way to interfere when the voting delegates totalled nearly 150,000 people.

Najib said the three vice-presidential incumbents were retained despite earlier calls for fresh faces in the Umno leadership as the grassroots had confidence in the three to help him and Muhyiddin carry out the national agenda.

He said he had not yet decided whether to reshuffle the Cabinet following the Umno election results but he would appoint several individuals into the supreme council.

This is to rectify “imbalances” in the elected line-up which saw some states like Selangor under-represented while some felt too few women managed to win seats in the supreme council, said Najib.

Muhyiddin said he did not believe Mukhriz’s defeat would cause unhappiness in the party, describing the Kedah Mentri Besar as a young leader of high calibre.

“Mukhriz can in a way be considered a winner because he received huge support and his defeat was just a narrow one,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported that former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he had expected that his son Mukhriz would not succeed in the contest, adding that the results showed that Umno delegates wanted to retain the incumbents.

“I see that the same old faces got elected. I told him (Mukhriz) that he will lose and had a 50-50 chance or less. My prediction came true,” he said after attending a prize-giving ceremony for the Putrajaya Longboat Rowing Championship 2013.

The Star