Highlight: Mohsin Abdullah: Non-members in Umno Supreme Council – right or wrong?

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Last Updated: 7:05am, Dec 04, 2013

THE thing is when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad comments on, well, “things,” many, (including yours truly) tend to interpret his words. Did he mean this and not that? Was that remark “loaded”? Was he being sarcastic?

So when Mahathir praised Umno’s move in appointing well-known personalities as Supreme Council members – saying it was an inclusive transformation for party development – the “interpreting” began - so to speak.

“They (Umno) also bring in some personalities who are not Umno members to join the supreme council. It was a very good move,” said Mahathir also.

Did he mean what he said? That it was indeed a “good move”? Or was there a tinge of sarcasm? After all, he did not do it in the 22 years he was Umno president.

Your guess is as good as mine.

Fact is, Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak recently had brought in or rather appointed several people including non-Umno folks to be the party Supreme Council members  - to sit alongside and with the same authority and clout as the 25  members who were voted in during last month’s  Umno election.

This is not about “independent” Islamic preacher Kazim Elias – whether he was a PAS member or not when appointed (see Mohsin Abdullah: A PAS Member in Umno Supreme Council?).

The question is this – Is the Umno president allowed to do it?

Firstly, the Umno president is authorised to appoint 12 individuals to join the 25 elected members of the Supreme Council. Thus making it 37  “ahli Majlis Tertinggi” Umno. The appointment is provided for in Umno’s constitution.

Following last month’s  party polls, Najib had appointed – first four, then nine – Umno and non-Umno members – to sit in the council. Making it 38, including the 25 who won the election.

So back to the question – can non-Umno members be appointed to the supreme council? The party constitution is silent on this. Meaning it does specify who appointees should be.

Anyway the question to ask is if the non-Umno member appointees “believe” in the party, why didn’t they join Umno in the first place?  Another poser is will their suggestions for the “betterment” of the party be accepted by their Umno “true blood” counterparts?

But a political observer with good Umno links made a random “survey” and came up with this: “Several Umno members welcome the move to bring in outsiders to sit in Majlis Tertinggi. With the purpose of strengthening Umno to face future challenges.

“They must be chosen based on credibility and the field they excel in – not friends or mere supporters who at the end of the day become passengers, or worse, baggage or liability to Umno. There must be proper criteria for selection so as not to discredit Umno members who themselves are capable.

And Umno must target people who can rope in the support of middle class Malays“.

However,  Umno blogger Shahbudin Husin sees it differently. In particular, the appointment of Kazim. “If it’s true that (Umno secretary  general) Tengku Adnan (Mansor)  said the appointment of Kazim is to rectify the lack of Islamic knowledge in Umno, isn’t Ustaz Fathul Bari (Umno ulamak) who obtained the highest number of votes as Umno Youth exco,  the right choice to rectify the problem?”

To the blogger, who is known to be a Najib critic, the move to bring in Kazim “is a slap to the 3.4 million Umno members –  it is as if not even one among the millions is on par or better than Kazim.“

Shahbudin wrote in his blog that the party constitution stipulates that for a person to contest a committee member’s position at division level, he or she must be an Umno member for at least three years. While those vying for a supreme council spot must have at some point been elected a division committee member.

“Hence appointing people for the supreme council must at the least embrace the spirit of the Umno constitution”, wrote Shahbudin. Still he acknowledged that  the appointing of members  is the “sole prerogative of the president“.

A point to note. Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz, has missed out on the Umno supreme council appointments.

Datuk Mukhriz , who was edged out of the race for VP had ( after the VP defeat)  expressed hope “the party president will still consider giving me a place in the Umno supreme council so that I too can contribute towards ensuring we can do better in the 14th general election“.

However, the Kedah MB will still “be in” the powerful supreme council. In a capacity known as “ahli yang turut hadir“. Or “member present“ at supreme council meetings.  In short,  Mukhriz is an “invitee” to the meetings as is the case of  the other Menteris Besar who did not contest the supreme council seats in the November party polls.

To Shahbudin, that ...... Never mind how he describes “invitee“.
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