DATUK Seri Hishammuddin Hussein took time off to spend the weekend visiting party members and supporters in his Sembrong constituency, where he is serving as a three-term member of parliament.
He joined zohor prayers at the Felda Ulu Dengar mosque, stopped at a food stall and attended an election operations briefing in the constituency.
The man of the hour marked a big move in his political career when he was named last Wednesday as the special functions minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also surprised his cabinet ministers when he announced Hisham’s appointment, seen as a promotion and a prestigious one.
Najib’s deputy Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi apparently told cabinet ministers, who inquired about Hisham’s additional portfolio, that the defence minister was effectively the country’s No. 3 man.
Zahid was spot on.
Najib is increasingly turning to his two trusted generals in the party and the government to help Barisan Nasional score a convincing victory in the next general election, widely expected to be held by the end of this year.
After a tumultuous 2015, which rocked his leadership, Najib has now strengthened his grip on the party and government. Last weekend, he led a successful retreat of top BN leaders at a venue in Janda Baik.
Hisham’s new task will focus more on the domestic agenda rather than international assignments, his aides say.
Until lately, the man has been working behind the scenes in dealing with complex security, defence and political issues with China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other countries in which Malaysia has strategic interests.
The 55-year-old Hisham, a UK-trained lawyer and a seasoned minister, is very well versed in international diplomacy. He also counts on his close ties with up-and-coming leaders in those countries.
He made his mark in the handling of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 tragedy when he was the acting transport minister.
In Malaysia, the last person to hold a similar post was Tun Daim Zainuddin, the mastermind in the latter years of the Mahathir Mohamad administration.
Social media and the opposition were quick to speculate on Hisham’s appointment as a blow to Zahid’s political career.
But, Najib has doused such speculation, telling BN leaders and members on Friday that the two remained close.
“Our main generals must be in one solid and strong team, each trusting each other,” he said.
“There must not be anyone who tries to pit Hishammuddin against Zahid,” he said, adding that he had discussed Hisham’s appointment with Zahid months before the announcement.
Not unlike Najib, Hisham (who, by the way, is Najib’s first cousin) is also a political blueblood. His grandfather is Datuk Onn Jaafar, an Umno founder.
Hisham’s father, Tun Hussein Onn, held the prime ministership for six years after Najib’s father Tun Abdul Razak died. Hisham was Umno Youth leader and a deputy minister at the age of 37.
Hisham and Zahid have been long in the party and the government. Hisham succeeded Zahid as Umno Youth chief in 1998 when the party was torn apart by the sacking of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
After the 2013 general election, Zahid and Hisham swapped the home and defence portfolios.
Zahid was promoted to deputy prime minister in 2015 when incumbent Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was dropped from the cabinet. Zahid, however, retained the home portfolio.
Both Zahid and Hisham are Umno’s vice-presidents. The third vice-president’s post became vacant after Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal quit the party.
With Zahid now assuming the job of deputy Umno president, this leaves Hisham as the only VP.
Hisham’s position as the top vice-president looks secure in the next party election, due after the general election. There are at least three or four other Umno leaders eyeing the three VP posts.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also took to Twitter to say that the cabinet and Umno fully supported Hisham’s additional role.
The eldest son of Tun Hussein is poised for bigger things, if he plays his cards well.
Forbes’ list ‘gives inspiration to the young’
FORBES 30 Under 30 Asia 2017 list recently honoured 11 young Malaysians in six of its 10 categories.
Among them is Malaysian actress Neelofa or Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor, 28, founder and director of NH Prima International Sdn Bhd, under the Retail & E-commerce category. Neelofa is involved in several business ventures, including the Muslim women’s clothing brand, Naelofar Hijab.
Others in the same category are Fashion Valet co-founder Vivy Yusof, 29, and Favful founder Sasha Tan, 26.
The second annual list includes 30 honorees for each of the 10 categories in it.
Besides Retail and E-commerce, the other categories include Consumer Technology, Enterprise Technology, Entertainment & Sports, The Arts, Finance & Venture Capital, Industry, Manufacturing & Energy, Healthcare & Science, Social Entrepreneurs and Media, Marketing & Advertising category.
Other local honorees are The Lorry co-founders Nadhir Ashafiq Zainal Abidin, 29, and Chee Hau Goh, 28 (Industry, Manufacturing & Energy); YAZ Ventures Sdn Bhd founder Mohd Yazrie Mohd Shuki, 28, and OpenMinds Resources founder Jan Wong, 30 (Media, Marketing & Advertising); and fashion designer Edmund Ooi, 29 (The Arts).
Also honoured are Gobi Partners vice-president Victor Chua, 29 (Finance & Venture Capital), Hospitals Beyond Boundaries co-founder Mohd Lutfi Fadil Lokman, 29, and YToday Sdn Bhd co-founder Jazz Tan Yee Mei, 27 (Social Entrepreneurs).
The Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2017 list features 300 young innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders who are challenging conventions and making an impact in today’s world. The honorees were selected by judges who are some of the most accomplished and acclaimed in their fields.
“(The list) gives inspiration to the young and inspires them to be successful in business ventures.
“Malaysian youth have proven that they can be successful in their chosen paths. Most of them are still in their 20s and they have already achieved a lot. Hopefully more youth are inspired to do the same and follow in their footsteps.
“They can be successful without any government contract or business capital from the father.” — A reader.
A Jalil Hamid feels in a digital world, the winner does not always take all.