BN to switch most MBs in next polls, say sources
KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 — Barisan Nasional (BN) is expected to nominate fresh faces as mentris besar and chief ministers in a majority of states in the next general election as Datuk Seri Najib Razak pushes his political transformation programme with a younger set of leaders to compete against Pakatan Rakyat (PR), sources say.
The Malaysian Insider understands that Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan and his Perlis counterpart, Datuk Seri Md Isa Sabu, are among the few assured of continuing in that post if BN retains both states.
“Najib wants the best for each state and if that means a fresh face, that will be it. Some of the leaders have been there too long anyway,” a coalition source told The Malaysian Insider.
Among the longest-serving state leaders from Umno are Pahang’s Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob, who took office in 1999, Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, who has been helming Johor since 1995, and Datuk Seri Ali Rustam, the Malacca chief minister since 1999. The longest-serving chief minister is Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, who led BN to victory in the Sarawak election last year in what is seen as his last term since assuming office in 1981.
“There must be renewal and this is the best chance for younger people to come up,” the source added, pointing out Najib himself was the youngest mentri besar to assume office in Pahang in 1982 when he was just 29.
Another source said BN has drawn up a list of potential state leaders which will be fine-tuned in the next few weeks by Najib (picture) and his aides. “There will of course be some last-minute lobbying and some state leaders might want to stay. But Najib is thinking of the future and the need for fresh faces,” he added.
The source also said BN will also take into consideration the views of the various state Rulers before nominating anyone for the top state post. “It must be someone agreeable to the respective state Ruler, otherwise there will be chaos,” he said, pointing out to last-minute changes in Perlis and Terengganu after Election 2008.
After the March 8, 2008 general election, then BN chief and Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had nominated Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim to continue as Perlis MB but Md Isa was sworn by the Raja of Perlis as the latter claimed support of eight fellow Umno assemblymen in the 15-seat state assembly.
In Terengganu, the state Ruler rejected Abdullah’s nominee, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, to continue as MB and instead swore in Datuk Seri Ahmad Said despite overwhelming protest from the state Umno and the temporary sacking of the new MB from the party. The issue was later resolved when Abdullah agreed to the Ruler’s choice.
It is learnt that BN has also settled on its nominees for states now ruled by PR — Kedah, Kelantan, Penang and Selangor. The only obvious choice for Kelantan is Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohamed, the international trade and industry minister who also leads Kelantan Umno.
“Mustapha is a shoo-in for Kelantan. The real mystery is Selangor as there are many names for the job,” the BN source said.
The frontrunner is Selangor Umno deputy chief Datuk Seri Noh Omar but the source said several corporate figures have also been included in the list sent to Najib, who is also the state party chief.
Najib visited the state again yesterday, a day before his Umno observes its 66th anniversary with a three-day celebration at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil. The prime minister has been making regular visits to Selangor, the country’s richest state won by PR in Election 2008.
The Umno president has declared that BN must win back the state in the next election, which has been speculated as early as next month after he returns from his vacation which starts on Monday.
The next general election must be called by April 2013 and will see an additional 2.2 million voters to 12 million registered to cast their ballots. The Election Commission (EC) has also accepted recommendations for indelible ink and a minimum 10-day campaign period in the next election following protests for a clean and fair election.