Umno leader Ruhanie Ahmad: Abdullah has decided to defend his party post after a 3-hour meeting with his supporters late last night. /MKINI
According to the breaking news, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, would be announcing his intention in defending the UMNO Presidency come March 2009, at 3 PM today.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
M. Bakri Musa
Tengku Razaleigh, in referring to the tussle between Abdullah Badawi and Najib Razak, said, “… [W]e are embarrassed at the sight of two grown men playing this endless children’s game of ‘yours and mine’ with the most important responsibility in the land, oblivious of the law, oblivious to the damage they are doing to the nation.” The Prince’s observation on the damage wrecked on Malaysia is spot on, declaring that Malaysia had been reduced to a banana republic and a laughing stock
What Abdullah and Najib do not realize is that the value of the trinket they are frantically bargaining over keeps dropping. While the two are consumed with striking a deal between them, they fail to notice that Anwar Ibrahim is on the sideline, ready and willing to take over, thus effectively reducing the two protagonists and their trinket to irrelevance.
Meanwhile the important business of running the country is neglected. They have been consumed with lobbying their followers, as well as engaging in hours of “four eyes only” meetings, haggling over when, how, and at what price the trinket would be handed over. They are oblivious to the nation’s compounding problems, from the massive public health hazard of contaminated milk products imported from China to the American credit crunch that will soon spread around the world.
It is time to make these two characters irrelevant. It is time to let this desperate drowning duo strangle each other and sink to the bottom of the cesspool they have created for themselves.
Our priority is to make sure that they do not drag the nation down with them. This responsibility falls heavily on those leaders of the opposition, in particular Anwar Ibrahim. He has to be ready to take over and make the necessary preparations now, especially with regards to policies and personnel.MORE
Razaleigh to go for No. 1UPDATEDBy Debra Chong
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said today he will contest the Umno presidency even if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi decides against defending his post.
He also spoke out against the postponement of the party polls, and urged members to push for the reinstatement of December as the date of the annual general assembly.
Tengku Razaleigh also called on Umno grassroots to reject the latest transition of power plan involving Abdullah and party deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“I reject this transition of power because it is extra-constitutional,” the veteran Umno member told reporters at his home here.
He criticised the transition plan for being unethical as “it is not stated within the party’s constitution”.
“This is not a game, because the leadership of Umno is also the leadership of the country.
“We have to be more responsible than that. Don’t allow people to laugh at us!” he said, noting that the flip-flop political agreement between Abdullah and Najib created great confusion among not only party members but among ordinary Malaysians as well and had turrned the whole country into an international laughing stock.
At the Umno supreme council meeting yesterday, Abdullah and Najib announced the decision to postpone the party’s annual general assembly until next March to facilitate an earlier transition of power.
But Tengku Razaleigh said that if they both wanted a transition of power to happen, they should follow the party’s code of ethics by holding an election to let the members decide.
“Why are we dilly-dallying?” he asked.
Tengku Razaleigh, or Ku Li as he is affectionately called, has offered himself to be a candidate for the Umno presidency.
He said he was confident of securing enough nominations from the divisions to be able to contest the top party post.
“That’s why I am offering myself,” he said.
‘I’m praying very hard I’ll get 140. Then there’ll be no opposition,” he quip
|Things being exaggerated, says expert
Kota Kinabalu: Constitutional law expert Prof. Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi thinks the sentiment for political change in Malaysia is being exaggerated.
He noted that for 51 years, the Alliance and Barisan Nasional (BN) rode like a Colossus, towering over every other party.
“They could do what they like, when they like, as and when they like, in whatever manner they like. Now things are slightly different, so there is confusion about how to handle this situation,” he rationalises.
Based on objective standard, Prof. Faruqi describes BN’s garnering of 63 per cent votes in the March 8 election as a very handsome majority. “The Government received more than 50 per cent of the popular vote.”
Making a comparison, he points out: “If in England, the Government received more than 50 per cent of the popular vote, you know, the leader would be painted in the most laudatory way.
“Governments in England come to power with 37 per cent popular vote because of their electoral system. Since the Malaysian Government received more than 50 per cent popular vote (i.e. it received 63 per cent in the Lower House), on objective world standard, this is a very handsome majority.”
Likening the BN to boxer Mike Tyson, he said the reason everybody is saying BN is weak is because Tyson was so used to knocking everybody down.
“But now Tyson doesn’t have two-thirds majority. So people are saying it’s weak. It’s a perceptionÉperceptions are important.”
He said the call by certain leaders for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to step down is due to internal politics.
“It has to do with Malay traditions. They called upon Tun Mahathir also to step down when he won by only 42 votes. But he said ‘No, I won, even if I win by one vote’.
Referring to the Labour Party in England, Prof. Faruqi said the party used to have internal disagreements all the time.
“But here BN was like a Colossus, nobody dared say anything. Basically, we are on unchartered terriroty. That’s why people are making conclusions which are not necessarily right, for example, imminent fall of the Government, resignation of the Prime Minister. I think on world standards, these are uncalled for.
“Even during Blair’s time, after the debacle in Iraq, many members of the Labour Administration and Cabinet Ministers were saying ‘we need a leadership change’. The present Prime Minister Gordon Brown used to ask for Blair’s agreement to be kept. Apparently, there was an agreement that he must step down. But Blair didn’t step down.”
The professor noted that when Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said something, people started to say ‘Oh, this is a sign of crumbling, that the Government is crumbling’.
“I think on world standards, it is normal in politics,” he said. On whether political crossovers are unethical, Prof Faruqi says much depends actually on the motives in question.
“These are surely unethical unless you cross over on principles but not personal benefit.” He recalled that Sir Winston Churchill crossed from the Conservative Party to the Liberal Party and then went back to the Conservative Party.
“I’d say that is principled. But if you go because you are promised an office or money or ambassadorship, then obviously, it’s unethical.”
On India’s anti-hopping law, Prof Faruqi thinks that is fair.
“We had this law in Kelantan and Sabah but declared null and void in the case of Nordin Salleh. The Federal Government challenged it but sometimes there is poetic justice. Sometimes boomerangs come back,” he quipped.
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — By a small margin, Malaysians think opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would make a better prime minister compared with Datuk Seri Najib Razak, according to a survey conducted recently by the independent Merdeka Centre.
In the same survey, Malaysians also appear more divided than ever over their support for the country’s political leadership.
There are also sharp differences in preferences between the different races, with a majority of non-Malays supporting Anwar, while more Malays preferred Najib.
Between Sept 11 and 22, Merdeka Centre carried out a leadership performance perception on a cross section of 1,002 people of voting age from the three main ethnic communities in the country.
Among the questions asked was: “Between Najib Razak and Anwar Ibrahim, who do you think makes a better prime minister?”
Najib garnered a 33.8 per cent average total support among the three major races. Anwar edged him by a margin of less than six per cent — he garnered an average total of 39.3 per cent.
The difference is more conspicuous when the show of support is broken down according to the ethnicity of those polled.
The split was apparent among racial lines, with Najib drawing as much as 47.3 per cent support from the Malay community. Anwar trailed with just 32.5 per cent.
The opposition leader gained greater support among non-Malays, receiving the support of 37.4 per cent of Chinese voters and a whopping 85 per cent from the Indians.
In comparison, Najib only won the approval of 18.4 per cent of Chinese voters and just five per cent of Indians thought he would make a better prime minister.
Of note was the high percentage of voters who remained non-commital. More than 40 per cent of Chinese voters polled expressed no preference.
Based on the poll results, Malay support for Najib is significantly stronger than that for Anwar.
Political analyst Tricia Yeoh says the party factor is a very strong featuring factor with the non-Malay communities.
“It is possible they view Najib as continuing to perpetuate the same kind of politics that has plagued Malaysiathrough Umno,” she said.
“Anwar will need to fight for Malay support most prominently since Najib may continue to be seen as the final bastion of support for the Malay position,” she added.
Another political analyst, Khoo Kay Peng, sees it differently.
“No doubt Najib commands higher support among the Malay community because of the status of Umno as a Malay party. It has been representing the Malays for a long time. But at 47.3 per cent, the support is not really very high for Najib. It’s not much off Abdullah’s support,” he said.
Based on the same Merdeka Centre report, Abdullah still enjoys 50.7 per cent support from the Malays.
“The key is that Najib does not get much support from the Chinese and Indians. Najib is still seen as a Malay leader.
“If you want to be the prime minister, you must have support from across the board,” he said.
“Anwar stands a much better chance because he gets support from over 30 per cent of the Chinese and the Indians, predominantly from the Indians, which is consistent with past reports,” he pointed out.
In a toss up between who will become the next prime minister, he felt it would definitely be Anwar.
But for Khalid Samad, the Pas MP for Shah Alam and an ally of Anwar, the results are frightening for the Pakatan Rakyat alliance.
He said the results of the survey showed government media propaganda still held sway, especially among the rural Malays.
He is concerned that much of the Malay media has portrayed a negative impression of Anwar as being an “immoral guy” and being a stooge of the United States.
“Basically, Umno-Barisan Nasional has been quite successful in conning Malays into believing that Anwar is selling out the Malays and that is the reason for the low percentage of support for Anwar,” said Khalid.
“These are not very encouraging results if it is representative of the entire population. It means there is a problem. Anwar will have to work harder.
“It’s important he should have at least a 50-50 situation among Malays. That would suffice,” he stressed.
But he does not think that the sample poll is a true reflection of the voting populace.
“I don’t think that Anwar in the actual situation is that far behind Najib. I would expect 47 per cent for Najib and 45 per cent for Anwar.
“The difference, almost 15 per cent difference in support from Malays, gives the impression that if Pakatan Rakyat comes to power, the position of the Malays will be jeopardised.
“But no one race will lose out under Pakatan leadership,” he said.
HONG KONG, Sept 27 — Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday his campaign to topple the government would only be strengthened if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stepped down earlier than expected and Abdullah’s deputy took the reins.
As Umno huddled in Kuala Lumpur to discuss whether the country’s unpopular prime minister should step down earlier than planned, Anwar said both leaders had lost the mandate of the people to rule, but that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had even less credibility.
“From a survey [it] showed that however unpopular Abdullah is now, Najib is more unpopular. He has a major problem of credibility. Many unexplained cases which does insinuate his involvement in [an] earlier murder case he has to explain, I’m not suggesting anything beyond that,” Anwar said in Hong Kong, while in Hong Kong for an Asia investment conference.
“It’s not a matter of going to the mosque and swearing that you are not involved. Then you make a mockery of Islam, the Quran and the law.
“If you go to the prison and say to these convicted murderers and rapists, ‘if you swear on the Quran you go scot free’, then 99.9 per cent would go free.”
Discussions on whether Abdullah would step down early would not derail the opposition’s plans, Anwar said, denying that he had lost credibility after failing to meet the Sept 16 deadline by which he had said he would have enough support in government to become prime minister.
While he had the names of the MPs who supported him, he said he could not disclose them because of the climate of fear in Malaysia.
“The climate of fear is real. Why do we need to expose them” and make them take such a risk, he asked.
Another risk for Anwar supporters was that Najib would be more willing to implement the Internal Security Act, a draconian law that allows people to be detained without trial for up to two years.
Anwar feared that the powers of ISA would only be strengthened and used more if Najib took power next year. Najib “has not said that he won’t use the Internal Security Act — not only against me”, he said.
Blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, an ally of Anwar, has been detained for reporting on Najib in connection with a murder case on the Malaysia Today political website. — South China Morning Post
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s premiership de facto ended yesterday, September 26, 2008 – 54 months after scoring the most stunning landslide electoral victory for any Prime Minister in the nation’s 51-year history.
How far and how fast Abdullah has fallen!
All the Umno heavyweights are now engaged in a marionette play – how to plunge the dagger into Abdullah’s back without blood being seen to be drawn or better still even camouflaging from the Malaysian public the act of dagger-stabbing altogether.
Although Abdullah claimed that it would be his decision, “whether to contest or not” the post of Umno President, there could be no doubt that if Abdullah departs from the script and fails to announce by before October 9 that he would not be offering himself as a candidate as Umno President, the marionette play would be abandoned and the dagger-stabbing would be a very public and bloody one.
Even the sweet-sounding praises by Umno leaders yesterday over the scuttling of Abdullah’s original mid-2010 power-transition plan and the postponement of the Umno general assembly from December to March next year sounded rather ominous if Abdullah ignores the unmistakable signal that he should not dilly-dally any more in making his exit.
For instance, when asked whether he was satisfied with the outcome of the Umno Supreme Council emergency meeting yesterday although there was no clearcut indication of an exist date, the most hawkish of the Umno leaders against Abdullah, Tan Sri Muhyidddin Yassin, commented: “I think it is good enough. You need to have trust. There must be a certain element of trust in whatever decision the leadership Is making today.”
Abdullah must be aware that he would be regarded as lacking “a certain element of trust” if he failed to announce that he would not be offering his candidacy for Umno President by the Oct. 9 deadline.
In the circumstances, Abdullah has three options before him:
• Announce before the October 9 deadline his intention to contest for the post of Umno President, retaining the initiative in his hands as to his own timeline to effect the power transition;
• Announce that he would not be contesting for the Umno President in the Umno party election in March, which also mark the end of his premiership; and
• Announce his retirement as Prime Minister by Oct. 9.
In the first option, Abdullah would be fighting for his political life as he would have to prove first that he is capable of winning 58 or one-third of the Umno division nominations for the post of Umno President.
This may be a very tall order and he must be prepared to suffer the ignominy of an incumbent Prime Minister and Umno President who could not secure adequate nominations to contest for the post of Umno President.
In the second option, Abdullah would be a lame-duck Prime Minister for six months.
Apart from the third option of immediate retirement as Prime Minister, is there a fourth option open to Abdullah?