KUALA LUMPUR: Back in January Malaysian Defence asked the same question and even posted a poll on this site. A total of 81 people responded and the majority believed that none of the three names listed on the poll, Hishammudin Hussein, Shafie Afdal and Muhyiddin Yassin, will head Jalan Padang Tembak when the new PM takes over.
Malaysian Defence understands that there is a strong undercurrent against Pekan’s ascension to the country’s top politician post but barring any last minute hitches, the newest UMNO president is set to take his oath of office this Friday. With a new premier, a new cabinet comes naturally and as this is Malaysian Defence, our interest is with the Jalan Padang Tembak hot seat.
As stated in the previous poll, while the Defence Ministry post is one of most sought after Cabinet position, the current economic situation may well damper the enthusiasm of the most ambitious politician. Nonetheless, the three names mentioned above, Hishammudin, Shafie and Muhyiddin remained in the contention for the post long held by the PM-designate himself.
Hishammudin’s blood ties to Najib was cited as the main reason for his possible selection for the post although those in the defence circles felt that he is too raw for the post. Incidentally, in the Malaysian Defence poll, Hishammudin was the early favourite but in the end finished second.
Shafie had the smallest number of votes in the poll but his strong showing in the UMNO’s VP race clearly showed his credentials as a potential future deputy president. And a stint as the head honcho at Jalan Padang Tembak may well boost his chances as well unless of course, Najib and Muhyiddin followed up their promise for transformation.
Muhyiddin was another early favourite for the post but with his election as UMNO deputy president it may no longer be politically savvy for his boss to allow him to rule over the honey pot. Again this would not matter if the transformation really took place, so the former Johor Menteri Besar, remained a viable candidate for the new Defence Minister.
Alas, we are in unchartered territory here and we have no history or tradition to allow us to make educated guesses. The success of KJ and Zahid Hamidi in the UMNO elections have also complicated matters.
However, if there is one candidate that can be totally ruled out from the Jalan Padang Tembak job, it will be Pak Lah’s son-in-law (sorry MeesterT!). Of course Najib could surprise us by elevating the current deputy defence minister (Abu Seman Yusop) to the top post but insiders say that this was most unlikely.
And my take on this? Early on I had my sights on Muhyiddin but now, I have dialed up a new target. I could be wrong on this but Shafie Afdal may well be the new Defence Minister next week.
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