UMNO DIVISIONAL MEETINGS: Isa likely to run for veep

SEREMBAN: Former Umno vice-president Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad is strongly tipped to seek a return to his former position.

Isa (picture), 59, who was suspended for two terms, or six years, after he was found guilty of money politics during the 2004 party elections will make his announcement today as to which post he would be contesting.

According to a close aide, the former Negri Sembilan menteri besar, who garnered the highest number of votes for the vice-president post at the 2004 elections, would make a bid to clinch one of the three vice-president posts.

His suspension, which took effect on June 24, 2005, was reduced to three years following his appeal on July 6, 2005.

Isa said he had been actively involved in politics despite the suspension, including helping to garner support for Barisan Nasional candidates during the March 8 general election.

Meanwhile, three of eight Umno divisions in the state will see competition for the top posts when the divisional meetings kick off tomorrow.

They include the Jelebu division where incumbent Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who is also the foreign minister, will take on state executive councillor Datuk Yunus Rahmat, who is also the deputy chief, while former state exco and Jempol division chief Datuk Lilah Yassin will be challenged by Palong state assemblyman Datuk Aziz Shamsudin.

In Seremban, division chief Datuk Ishak Ismail, who was dropped from the list of candidates for the March 8 general election, will be challenged by his vice-chief, Mohd Nor Awang.

Last month, Nor, 47, claimed trial at the Sessions Court for allegedly bribing an Umno branch chief as inducement to nominate him for the division chief's post.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan has been retained in Rembau, while Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor was returned in Tampin.

In Teluk Kemang, Isa retained the top post, while state exco member Datuk Ismail Lasim was returned in Kuala Pilah.

State exco Datuk Hashim Rusdi was returned in Rasah.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Hasan Malek is also eyeing an Umno supreme council seat.

He said the decision was made after considering the encouragement and support from the Felda community and members of the Malaysian Youth Council in Negri Sembilan, which he once helmed.

"If elected, my presence in the supreme council will serve as a bridge to link the Felda community with the party and the government," Hasan, the MP for Kuala Pilah, told Bernama in a statement issued yesterday.

In Terengganu, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri, who is Bera Umno division chief, has offered to contest a seat in the Umno supreme council in the party elections in March.

If elected, Ismail said he would raise the concerns of the young generation, who made up 46 per cent of the country's population.

He told Bernama that with 200,000 youth registering as voters every year, it was important that their voices be heard.

In Penang, Umno Balik Pulau division chief Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya will seek re-election to the supreme council.

To date, he is the first party leader from the state to offer himself to contest a seat in the supreme council.

In Pahang, Umno divisional meetings are expected to see fights for the top post in five of the 14 divisions.

State Umno liaison committee secretary Abdul Rahim Abas said contests for the top post were expected in Raub, Paya Besar, Indera Mahkota, Jerantut and Lipis.

In the nine divisions that will see no contests, seven incumbent chiefs have retained their posts.

They include Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (Pekan) and Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob (Bentong).

Two divisions will have new chiefs -- state Information, Science and Technology Committee chairman Datuk Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin won uncontested in Temerloh, while Kuala Krau MP Datuk Mohd Ismail Said was also unchallenged in Kuala Krau.

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