Survey on next PM pick meant to ‘destabilise’ Umno, Hishammuddin claims

Merdeka Center’s Ibrahim Suffian was quoted as saying that Malaysians prefer Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pic) as the next choice for prime minister. — Reuters pic
Merdeka Center’s Ibrahim Suffian was quoted as saying that Malaysians prefer Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pic) as the next choice for prime minister. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has dismissed the results of a survey picking him as the first choice to be Malaysia’s next prime minister, claiming it was an attempt to “destabilise” ruling Umno by creating internal conflict.

According to local English daily The Star, the defence minister was quoted as saying that he did not take the survey carried out by Merdeka Center seriously.

“(I) don’t depend too much on surveys. There was one few months back during the Umno general assembly that I was not even competent to be a vice-president. In the next few months, there could be a survey that I am there to take over as prime minister,” he said.

“This (survey) is an attempt to pit Umno leaders against each other.”

On Wednesday, news portal The Malaysian Insider quoted Merdeka Center’s Ibrahim Suffian as saying that Malaysians prefer Hishammuddin as the next choice for prime minister, citing his pedigree, family name and handling of last year’s missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 incident as the reasons.

“He’s not a controversial figure in the media, there have been no open discussions on his problems as minister, and people have all but forgotten the keris-waving incident of 10 years ago,” he was quoted further.

Ibrahim heads Merdeka Center that conducted the poll, which was commissioned by The Malaysian Insider.

Hishammuddin was selected by nearly one in five respondents, over twice as many as who opted for Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin or Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi with their scores of 8.6 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively.

The preference for Hishammuddin was also near term, with almost the same proportion — 19.4 per cent — saying he should be the next prime minister after the current leadership moves on.