Noh Omar dismisses Umno-MIC rift over by-election

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid (Malaysian Insider)
HULU SELANGOR, April 13 — Umno Selangor’s deputy chief today denied allegations of friction between Umno and fellow Barisan Nasional component party MIC over the candidacy for the by-election here.
Datuk Seri Noh Omar said it was “normal” for both parties to “express themselves” and sway the top leadership to field their candidate of choice though it was clear that the power ultimately lies with the ruling coalition’s chairman.
“This is normal. Every time there is a by-election there will be quarters who will try and have their candidates chosen but at the end, all will concur with the decision of the top leadership,” Noh told a press conference here.
“As they all know, it’s all up to the president, who wields the power, to decide on the candidate,” added the Agriculture Minister.
Umno had backed down from its intense lobbying effort to have a Malay candidate contest the April 25 poll after BN and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak asserted his authority and announced that the candidate would be from the MIC.
The Indian-based party had named its deputy president, Datuk G. Palanivel, who was Hulu Selangor’s incumbent for four terms until his ouster by PKR’s Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad in Election 2008.
But Umno is believed to be lobbying for its alleged “proxy” within MIC, V. Mugilan, to be the candidate.
Palanivel is unpopular among the Umno supporters here while Mugilan, a local born in the Kerling estate of Batang Kali, is known to have widespread support among BN’s grassroots.
The rift intensified further when Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin hinted that the BN candidate will be a local.
Umno supporters claimed that Mugilan is the local face alluded to by Muhyiddin but MIC leaders argue that Palanivel, despite being an outsider, has been staying in Bukit Sentosa for more than 18 years making him a local.
Bukit Sentosa is a neighbourhood within the sizable Hulu Selangor constituency.