On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Tough decisions on the Barisan line-up

There will probably be some  who will weep openly and later,  put up a brave front to pressmen  that they accept the leadership's  decision in the name of party  unity and the struggle.

According to insiders, Umno  headquarters
has been bombarded with telegrams and appeal letters over the past month.

It's the same with the respective heads of Barisan's 14 component parties.

Many of these messages come  with
impressive resumes, including the academic results of  the intending candidates' college  examinations.

If that is not enough, some  candidates
openly admit they are  prepared to use
their spouses to  strengthen their

No one is sure whether such a  ploy will
work but one Barisan  component leader
has called it  “kitchen politics'' and
he is not  underestimating this

Besides their wives,  many of  these politicians are said to be  prepared to send busloads of  family members, friends and  grassroots leaders to Kuala  Lumpur to lobby their case.

At stake is 193 parliamentary  seats and
the coalition wants to  win over 128
seats to ensure a  two-thirds

Up for grabs are also 365 state  seats.

Everyone of the contenders,  including
those from the Opposition Front, will claim they are  doing it for the people.

That aside, the reality is that  it's
also about power, positions,  prestige
and business opportunities.

The talk is that several Barisan stalwarts will be dropped to  make way for young blood, including  a few top civil servants.

One possible casualty is former information minister Datuk  Mohamed Rahmat while a popular name going
around as a potential new candidate is Chief 
Secretary to the Government  Tan
Sri Halim Ali.

Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk  Sanusi Junid
has confirmed he is  contesting in a
state seat but that  has not stopped
speculation that  he is going to be

Then, there are also suggestions of Minister in the Prime  Minister's Department Datuk  Tajol Rosli contesting for a Perak state seat
and taking up the  Mentri Besar's

If the gravepine is be believed, 
Consumer and Domestic Affairs 
Minister Datuk Megat Junid Megat Ayob may go for a state seat.  He is also said to be the other  contender for the Perak MB's  post.

There is also talk that the longest serving MB, Tan Sri Wan  Mokhtar Ahmad, will be  dropped.

Negri Sembilan MB Tan Sri  Mohamed Isa
Abdul Samad may  contest a parliamentary
seat instead.

Word has it that Isa, a four term MB, will be offered either  the Tampin or Teluk Kemang  parliamentary seat.

Immigration director-general  Datuk Aseh
Che Mat, who is  from Kuala Pilah, and
Cycle and  Carriage managing director
Datuk Mohamed Hassan, who is the  Rasah
Umno division chief, are  among those
tipped to succeed  Isa.

In Johor, speculation continues  that MB
Datuk Ghani Othman is  going for a
parliamentary seat.

Umno Youth chief Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein and Defence Minister Datuk Syed
Hamid are said to be possible replacements for the MB's post.

But what is clear is that the Johor state constitution stipulates  that only those born in Johor can  be Mentri Besar.

It is a peculiar clause that  rules out
talented people like Hishammuddin who was born in  London and Syed Hamid, who  was born in Penang.

On the MCA side, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Wong See  Wah and Deputy Culture and  Tourism Minister Datuk Teng  Gaik Kwan have been confirmed  dropped.

Contrary to speculation, Local 
Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Ting Chew Peh and  Deputy Sports Minister Datuk  Loke Yuen Yow will contest.

Dr Ting, the MP for Gopeng  and Loke, the
MP for Tanjung  Malim, have, in fact, hit
the campaign trail.

Beginning tomorrow, the Mentris Besar of all states, except  Kelantan, who are also state  Umno liaison chiefs, will wait  outside Dr Mahathir's office.

The first on the appointment  list is
Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Adnan Yaakob, who will submit his list of potential

Tan Sri Khalil Yaakob, as the  Pahang
Umno liaison chief, will  have a strong
influence on the  choice of

While Adnan is almost certainly to defend his Pelangai state  seat, there is talk that some Mentris Besar
will be dropped.

Their fate will almost certainly be known when they face Dr  Mahathir and other members of  the powerful Umno political bureau.

The bureau, headed by Dr Mahathir, includes vice-presidents  Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad  Badawi and Datuk Seri Najib  Tun Razak, Khalil (who is also  Umno secretary-general) and  treasurer Tun Daim Zainuddin.

On Tuesday, the bureau will  finalise the
lists of candidates.  The day's work will
begin with  the crucial line-up for
Kelantan  with Tengku Razaleigh
Hamzah  handling the task.

Dr Mahathir, who is also Barisan Nasional chairman, will meet  the heads of the component parties in the
afternoon beginning  with MCA president
Datuk Seri  Dr Ling Liong Sik.

On Wednesday, it will be the  turn of
party leaders from Sabah  and Sarawak,
who will each be  given one hour to
present their  case.

For Barisan, especially Umno,  it is
imperative that fresh blood  be
introduced to rejuvenate the 

Many of the old timers have  contributed
greatly to the party  and nation but they
can also be  an obstacle to further

New faces will attract new  members,
especially young professionals and entrepreneurs to  join the main Barisan parties.

By fielding more new faces,  the Barisan
will also remove possible offensive strategy from the  opposition.

It would also be a good strategy to field prominent civil servants, especially
those with  sound track records, as they
will  be able to get the support of the  civil servants.