On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

No end to speculation about DPM candidate

There was no indication who the  person would be or when the appointment would
be announced.  Neither was there any inkling
that  the new DPM would be among the  three or whether he would be an  interim DPM before the Umno  elections in July.

The three Umno leaders supposedly gave their support to the  Prime Minister, saying the prerogative was
his alone and that they  would back his

No one, including the three, is  ready to
verify whether the meeting took place but the mere talk of  such meetings has generated excitement within
the political circle.

While no one wants to put on record what transpired, the sentiment among Umno
members is  clear. They want to see the
DPM's  post filled soon.

If the meetings really took place,  the
Prime Minister has given us a  glimpse of
how he works; the political maverick has, again, kept his  cards close to his chest.

The three seasoned politicians  have
returned to their aides and  supporters
without an answer. The  only consolation
is there is still  hope for all

The endorsement by the three  leaders
would certainly ease Dr  mahathir's

After all, Abdullah and Najib are 
vice-presidents and they certainly 
command support from members.

Both are also senior Cabinet  members who
have contributed to  the country and
party. By virtue of  their government and
party positions, they would certainly see 
themselves as worthy contenders 
for the post.

Razaleigh may not be in the Cabinet but he is well-respected by the  business community.

Although he has not made any 
announcement as to whether he 
would vie for a key Umno position, 
it is said that his supporters have 
begun preparing the groundwork 
for this possibility.

Preliminary assessments have  shown that
Umno members consider Razaleigh a serious contender   should he decide to join the fray.

Besides the many considerations  to take
into account, the Prime  Minister's task
has become tougher because of pressure from senior  Umno members, including the  Mentris Besar, to name his deputy.

It is said that various options  have
been proposed to him. Some  of the
options, if workable and correct, certainly seem attractive.

Then there is the question of  whether
the appointment would  have a bearing on
the party elections. Would the appointment result in a no-contest

Political equations aside, Dr Mahathir must consider the equally  important criteria of the person  being able to handle the demanding job.

Dr Mahathir's priorities now are  to
restore the economy and to reconcile the party following the sacking of Datuk
Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The expectations of Malaysians  are high;
they want the new DPM  to be clean,
accountable and just.

He must be someone who can  grasp the
complexities of economics and who has international support.

Malaysians will see the DPM as a 
successor to Dr Mahathir. After 16 
years, it will be a tough act to follow. Malaysians would want to
see  what the new man is made of if
he  is to lead the country later

He would face the task of gearing up for a general election which  is slightly more than a year away.  He would have to maintain the winning
momentum of the Barisan Nasional in a more challenging political

We cannot deny there is uneasiness on the ground over the current political
developments. Some  members of the public
have doubts  over what they are

The new DPM would shoulder  the
responsibility of convincing  this
section of the electorate which  could
determine the overall results.

A week is a long time in politics,  as
the saying goes. In a year's  time,
additional information would  have
surfaced and might cushion  some of the

Despite criticisms of our political system, it is evident that Umno  has the capacity for compromise,  which augurs well for the nation.  And the support for Dr Mahathir  as Prime Minister and Umno president is still

As the search for the new DPM  continues,
there will be no end to  speculation in
the capital.

It has become customary of Dr  Mahathir
to invite different guests  to his buka
puasa function each  evening; sometimes
he accepts invitations from politicians.

Without any official announcement, impatient Umno members  have turned such functions into  talking points. So, who is Dr Mahathir
breaking fast with tomorrow evening?