The "no contest" decision for the two top UMNO posts is a time-bomb which could destroy the political credibility and legitimacy of Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and rob him of his chance to become the undisputed fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia.
The Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Wira Mohd Ali Rustam has done Abdullah, UMNO and democracy in Malaysia a great disservice in pushing for the "no contest" decision by UMNO Supreme Council.
If Abdullah does not act swiftly to dissociate himself from the UMNO Supreme Council decision by asking the UMNO Supreme Council to rescind the "no contest" resolution of January 3, 2000, Abdullah would be seen as weak, indecisive and vacillating - which is not going to enhance his political credibility and legitimacy.
Mahathirís refusal to appoint Abdullah as Acting Prime Minister during his three weeksí of absence abroad, but merely to take over the Prime Ministerís duties in his absence, has not strengthened Abdullahís political position at all.
The most remarkable scenario in UMNO after the the recent general election, where UMNO suffered its worst electoral defeat in party history, is that while Abdullahís contenders for the highest office in the land like Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had been severely weakened, Abdullahís position had not strengthened correspondingly at all.
Abdullah has still to make a real mark for himself although he had been Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister for a year. Now is the chance for Abdullah to demonstrate that he has political character of his own by immediately responding to widespread adverse reactions of the UMNO grassroots to the "no contest" rule by getting the UMNO Supreme Council to rescind it.