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TJ MK AG: Kemelut Malap Hishamuddin
By Rozaid & Rehman
10/12/2000 11:32 am Sun
TJ Penting Sahaja:
Pengulas: Man Kubur
Hishamuddin dihantui oleh beberapa isu:
9th December 2000
The Perils of Hishammuddin
By Rozaid Rahman & Rehman Rashid
Datuk Aziz Sheikh Fadzir's feinted resignation as deputy chief of Umno
Youth dealt another body blow to the tottering leadership of Datuk
Hishammuddin Hussein, the movement's leader. Although Aziz was quickly
persuaded by Youth exco to withdraw his resignation, the episode only
highlighted that Hishammuddin faces trouble everywhere he looks - at
his division, Youth, the centre; even at his federal Ministry of
(unhappy) Youth & (unsuccessful) Sports.
In Umno's Tenggara Division in Johor, of which Hisham is division
chief, talk is rife that ex-divisional leader Asmaon Ismail is
preparing to challenge him. Hishammuddin is rarely seen in his
Division, and Asmaon's potential challenge may presage a scramble for
divisional positions early next year.
At the national level, meanwhile, Hishammuddin's early luck seems to
have run out. Coming in from out of the blue in 1993 to secure himself
a position on the Youth exco with the highest number of votes cast at
that year's electoral party assembly, Hisham seemed to glow with the
aura of his illustrious ancestry, as the son and grandson of past
party presidents, including the first Umno Youth chief. Yet, his
youthfulness seemed to catch the imagination of Umno Youth.
Three years later, after just one term on Youth exco, Hisham declared
an intention to bid for the wing's Number Two slot. Then in line for
that position was Datuk Fatah Iskandar, a key aide to then Umno Youth
Chief Datuk Zahid Hamidi. But Hisham was allowed to mount his
challenge, and won. Zahid subsequently appointed Fatah the movement's
information chief, which had been Zahid's own position under the
previous Youth administrations of Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Tan Sri
Rahim Tamby Chik.
Zahid came off badly in the leadership crisis sparked by the Anwar
Ibrahim affair, and resigned as Youth chief. His place was
automatically taken by Hishammuddin, who was duly confirmed in it at
last May's party assembly.
However, Hishammuddin's apparently effortless cruise to high office
has been more curse than blessing. He is viewed with cynicism by those
who see him as having been kept in office because no one dared deny
the party president's choice. Hishammuddin's critics say he measures
poorly against his predecessors. Unlike Zahid, Rahim, Najib or Anwar,
Hishammuddin is somewhat estranged from Youth members. An upper-class
urbanite, he is ill-at-ease in the rural political environment of his
party's grassroots. His unpopularity was manifest at last month's
party assembly, when the mere mention of his name drew loud jeers from
Party insiders concede that Hisham may be attending more to his
ministerial duties than party activities. However, they see the recent
Lunas by-election as having been an opportunity for him to have
arrested his declining ratings by showing up to campaign for the
Barisan Nasional. In the event, it was another lost opportunity.
Hishammuddin made but a single appearance at the scene, on the eve of
polling day, before leaving the job to his deputy Aziz Sheikh Fadzir
and decamping on a quick trip to Brisbane, Australia.
Aziz subsequently found himself at the down-and-dirty losing end of
the Lunas election campaign, as the ultimately victorious Opposition
featured him graphically in a poster depicting his belligerence
against Chinese educationists over the Vision Schools proposal.
Hisham's problems have been compounded by the recent resignation of
his private secretary, Abdul Latif Endut, for reasons unknown, and the
impending replacement of his political secretary, Hasni Mohamad, with
Youth information chief and Umno Supreme Councillor Azimi Daim. It is
considered unusual for a member of the party's Supreme Council to be
delegated political secretary to a minister.
Given all this, Hishammuddin is being advised to forget about his
much-anticipated debate with Mahfuz Omar of Pas, who has just been
released from a month in Kajang Prison, and debate with himself the
future of his own party, and his place and role within it.