Umno polls: Ex-minister Reezal Merican to contest VP post

KUALA LUMPUR: Former minister and former Kepala Batas MP Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican (pic) has thrown his hat into the ring to contest one of the three Umno vice-presidents’ posts.

The long-time Umno supreme council member filed his papers on Saturday (Feb 25) at the party headquarters at the World Trade Centre, in what is seen as the most crowded party polls.

Reezal, who called himself a protege of former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said that if he is elected, it will be to return the voice of moderation to the party.

Other contenders for the VP’s posts are incumbents Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid and Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

Also reported to have filed their papers were Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani and Datuk Seri Hasni Mohammad.

Speaking to the media after filing the papers, Reezal said that although running for the VP’s post is seen as a progression of his political career, he decided to do so as the party is in need of “better housekeepers”.

“Let’s keep to the path of moderation.

“I am not going to be overly-confident of winning but I am confident Umno needs people like me who can regain the support from the people. I am someone who believes in not airing our dirty laundry in public.

“Despite me being part of the Umno supreme council, no one can point at me and say that I have ever exposed Umno’s flaws to the public.

“I believe in respecting the party and keeping its honour. If the party is in pain, we as housekeepers must provide the cushioning measures.

“We may have our differences within the party, but we live in the same house. Even when we lost (the Federal Government in 2018), Umno managed to stay intact,” said Reezal.

Reezal also called on those who are “excessive” in their campaigning to tone it down as their actions might not only take down individuals, but also give a bad name to the party.

“The party is obviously still very much alive, judging from the crowd that is willing to contest all the posts in Umno both at the grassroots and national level.

“I offer myself as a 24-hour housekeeper of the party and I want those who vote for me to look at my record.

“I have been with the party since I was in my 20s and have stuck with the party through thick and thin for more than two decades, rising through the ranks. This shows that I have climbed the political steps and I offer my services. My record is for all to see.

The nomination period closes on Feb 26.

Umno is in the midst of its internal elections for the 191 divisions and 22,000 branches, including the divisions that were suspended.

The party’s new office bearers will be elected from Feb 1 to March 18, but the top two positions of president and deputy president will not be contested this time around.

In May last year, Umno amended its constitution to allow party polls to be held within six months after the conclusion of the 15th General Election.

Umno had postponed its party elections for 18 months after the 2018/2021 term ended on June 30, 2021, which meant party polls for the 2021/2023 term should have been held before Dec 30 last year. However, the polls were postponed.