Umno’s election heads have scoffed at Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat’s influence in the state, stating that Umno leaders are far more capable than the influential cleric.
Coming on the eve of nominations for the Manek Urai by-election, the show of confidence appears designed to break the psychological grip that the PAS spiritual leader has on the mostly Malay Muslim state.
“Nik Aziz is only influential in Kelantan whereas Tok Pa has, among other things, been a minister,” said Umno information chief Ahmad Maslan, referring to Umno Kelantan chief Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, who is the party’s election director for the July 14 vote. Both Umno leaders rejected the idea that Nik Aziz’s iconic status among Muslims would be the defining factor for the Malay electorate who make up over 99 per cent of the 12,300 voters.
“An icon is someone who can contribute to Kelantan and also outside of the state,” Ahmad, who is also Pontian MP added.
“I feel I am also an icon,” Mustapa stated.
“Tok Guru might have his strengths, but I also contribute to society, so let the people judge,” the International Trade and Industry Minister said when comparing himself to Nik Aziz.
He added that Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak was also an icon as “our prime minister has a broad vision and capable of bringing change.”
Mustapa added that Umno would bring Najib’s 1 Malaysia concept to the ground and also explain his economic liberalisation properly.
The move appears targeted to ensure that Barisan Nasional would not experience a fallout from Najib’s move to reduce Bumiputera quota requirements from Malay voters here.