Monday, September 22, 2008

Abdullah fights for his political life – will Najib “sink or swim” with him?

Abdullah fights for his political life – will Najib “sink or swim” with him?
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has decided to fight for his political life.

The question is who will be the protagonists in the looming “battle royal” in UMNO – and what are the stakes involved.

Will the protagonists in the Umno Presidential battle be Abdullah vs Najib, or will Najib “sink or swim” with Abdullah in a Abdullah-Najib battle against the rest?

What are the stakes involved? This question would be obtuse or even stupid in the past five decades when whoever is Umno President is automatically the Prime Minister.

But this is no more the case after the two political tsunamis in the past six months - the first in the general election of March 8 and second in the Permatang Pauh by-election on August 26.

As a result, the battle to be the Umno President at the end of the year is no more automatically about who is to be the next Prime Minister but probably the next Parliamentary Opposition Leader.

Although Umno Information Chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib Monday yesterday slammed as “opportunists” those who leaked information on matters discussed in the party’s supreme council meeting (which includes Muhammad himself), the facts remain uncontradicted that at last Thursday’s Umno Supreme Council meeting, Abdullah was pressured to have a quicker exit plan and not wait until mid-2010 according to his earlier power transition plan with Najib.

Rafidah (who joined Muhyiddin Yassin, Hishammuddin Hussein and Shafie Apdal to pressure Abdullah to fast-forward the transition plan to hand power to Najib) even warned that Abdullah might not even be able to secure the minimum 58 nominations (i.e. 30 per cent) required to defend his Umno presidency.

Abdullah was openly pressured to make known his intentions by October 9 when Umno divisions begin nominating candidates for the Umno polls in December.

Two events yesterday marked the Abdullah decision to go for broke in the Umno party polls after a three-day panic of the Abdullah camp over the “palace revolt” at Thursday’s Umno Supreme Council meeting.

The first was the public pledge of support for the beleaguered Abdullah by Penang Umno, calling on all the 193 divisions not to rock the boat and honour the 2010 power transition plan.

This is most ironic as it was the Penang Umno which had done the most damage to the credibility, authority and legitimacy of Abdullah as Umno President and Prime Minister with its open defiance and contempt of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in giving full backing to Datuk Ahmad Ismail in the “Chinese are penumpang” furore – which has now been aggravated by the presence of Ahmad Ismail at the Penang Umno meeting and press conference as “UMNO Bukit Bendera adviser” although suspended for three years as Umno member.

Abdullah’s statement in Kota Baharu yesterday that Umno grassroots members want the strengthening of the spirit of consensus in the party in line with the leadership transition plan in 2010 was the second indication of his decision to go for broke in the Umno party polls.

Hence, the Singapore Business Times report “Abdullah may seek re-election as Umno chief”, viz:

MUCH to the surprise of political pundits here, Malaysia’s embattled Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is likely to seek re-election as president of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) - the position that carries the prime ministership.

Party officials say Mr Abdullah, 67, made the decision at the weekend after huddling with party allies and family members including his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin, the deputy chief of Umno’s youth wing.

‘OK, we won’t get that many nominations,’ an Abdullah ally told BT. ‘But I think we should be able to get 70 to 80 with some work.’ A challenger for the presidency needs at least 58 nominations from the party’s 191 divisions nationwide.

But not all Umno officials think that Mr Abdullah can pull off re-election. At a meeting of Umno state liaison chiefs last Thursday, at least two of his loyalists - Johor Chief Minister Ghani Othman and his Pahang counterpart Adnan Yaakub - told him they can no longer control their divisions, which are likely not to nominate him.

And at an Umno Supreme Council meeting later, at least four senior members suggested in strong language that Mr Abdullah not seek re-election lest he be humiliated by a lack of nominations.

The meeting ended abruptly after Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said he would settle the leadership transition in talks with Mr Abdullah.

Malaysianinsider has this report, “Pak Lah set to defend Umno presidency”:

Barring a last-minute turnaround, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will go ahead and defend his position as Umno party president, despite some pressure from the ground for him to short-circuit his transition plan.

Sources told The Malaysian Insider that the Prime Minister reached this decision after meeting several Umno supreme council members, state liaison chiefs and political operatives over the weekend at his official residence Sri Perdana.

The consensus among this group, which includes Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Mansor, is that Abdullah should be able to garner the minimum 58 nominations needed to contest the top post. Abdullah’s supporters said that with the green light from him, they will hit the ground and conduct a no-holds-barred campaign for the next few weeks to ensure that he gets the nominations when Umno divisions begin their divisional meetings.

This decision by Abdullah to defend his party president’s position will come as a surprise to many, especially those in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s camp. During the supreme council meeting on Thursday, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein, Datuk Rafidah Aziz and Datuk Shafie Apdal urged Abdullah to hand over the reins to Najib soon, with Rafidah saying that the PM will face difficulty getting the minimum number of nominations.

Hearing this feedback, many party officials and political pundits expected him to announce that he would not contest the party elections.

But instead of demoralising Abdullah and his supporters, the attack by Hishammuddin and others had the opposite effect. Abdullah’s camp felt that despite being magnanimous by handing over the Finance portfolio and even suggesting during a press conference that he would hand over power to Najib much earlier than 2010, he was being pushed to the wall.

A senior party official told The Malaysian Insider: “You can push someone up to a point only. After that it becomes humiliating. So it is rubbish to say that Pak Lah will be humiliated if he contests the party elections. Some people are already trying to do this. He has nothing to lose by keeping to the original transition plan.”

This decision will spook the DPM and his supporters. Najib can ill-afford an all-out battle for the party presidency. With his strong support base on the ground he will be the favourite to get more nominations than Abdullah but it will come at a great cost to him and his desire to lead a united party.

As such, Najib is likely to support Abdullah’s desire to contest the party elections, knowing that a no-holds-barred contest will damage both of them badly.

Where does Najib really stand in the UMNO power stakes.

Clearly the affairs of state and the worsening multiple crisis of confidence which had been neglected for more than six months since the March 8 political tsunami will have to continue to occupy peripheral attention while the Umno leaders slug it out for the next three months - whether for Prime Minister or Opposition Leader.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 (2 hours ago) at 06: 42.23 (2 hours ago) and is filed under Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, UMNO. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

25 Responses to “Abdullah fights for his political life – will Najib “sink or swim” with him?”
yhsiew Says:

Today at 06: 49.30 (2 hours ago)
Abdullah and Najib are in the same boat; if Abdullah sinks, Najib will go down too.

yhsiew Says:

Today at 07: 01.07 (2 hours ago)
‘OK, we won’t get that many nominations,’ an Abdullah ally told BT. ‘But I think we should be able to get 70 to 80 with some work.’

We have yet to see whether “money politics” is deployed to get that 70 to 80 nominations!

mendela Says:

Today at 07: 07.45 (2 hours ago)

mendela Says:

Today at 07: 10.55 (2 hours ago)

vchi Says:

Today at 07: 24.06 (1 hour ago)
The UMNO General Assembly will decide who is the next opposition leader, not PM.

Freddy Says:

Today at 07: 37.39 (1 hour ago)
As a result, the battle to be the Umno President at the end of the year is no more automatically about who is to be the next Prime Minister but probably the next Parliamentary Opposition Leader.
Thanks YB. There are many people who question whether Pakatan Rakyat has the number. PAS has come out to confirm Anwar’s claims. Although you didn’t specifically admit to having the number, this is as good as it is.

So, to those still in doubt as to whether PR has the number, be assured!

Godfather Says:

Today at 07: 40.22 (1 hour ago)
Sleepy Head is PR’s best friend, so why are we fighting so hard to get him to resign ? Najis will never be able to get the Mongolian linkage off his back, so even if he gets to succeed Sleepy Head, he will also turn out to be a PR asset.

mendela Says:

Today at 07: 40.59 (1 hour ago)

mendela Says:

Today at 07: 43.10 (1 hour ago)

mendela Says:

Today at 07: 45.01 (1 hour ago)
All above are our tributes to Bodowi and C4.

Freddy Says:

Today at 07: 49.52 (1 hour ago)
Ahmad Ismail at the Penang Umno meeting and press conference as “UMNO Bukit Bendera adviser” although suspended for three years as Umno member.
This is another farce. How is it possible that racist Ahmad can attend the meeting while serving suspension? Malaysiakini reports:

Abdul Rashid clarified that Ahmad, who has since been appointed Bukit Bendera adviser, was allowed to attend because his suspension had not taken effect since he has yet to receive an official letter on the matter.

yhsiew Says:

Today at 07: 56.36 (1 hour ago)
It is very obvious that UMNO is badly split - one group wants Abdullah to quit as soon as possible and another group wants him to stay in power as long as he can.

In view of such chaos in UMNO, there is a risk that non-UMNO components in BN (e.g. MCA, MIC, Gerakan etc) may quit and become independent parties or join PR.

Jeffrey Says:

Today at 08: 03.20 (1 hour ago)
YB Kit asked whether protagonists in the Umno Presidential battle be a case of (1) Abdullah vs Najib, or (2) Najib “sink or swim” with Abdullah in a Abdullah-Najib battle against the rest.

Probably it is not (1) or (2) but both at same time, ie outwardly (2) with undercurrents (1) – either cases, a divided UMNO with the prospects of the winner being Parliamentary Opposition Leader looming in the horizon!

As a result of this thread, Umno Information Chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib will again chide you for interfering in UMNO affairs. He made the complaint the last time when he said you had asked Abdullah to step down quickly because that was the wish of many Umno members. See NST report here -

[Muhammad Taib is not right. On other occasions, they say UMNO is backbone of the country, and Abdullah himself said that he was PM for all Malaysians, so all Malaysians have a right to comment on pivotal issues of national politics even at UMNO level].

I would laud and support the PM to fight and go for broke in the Umno party polls. Why should he just resign just because a few vociferous Supreme Council members attacked his power transition plan in 2010? After all the Council had prior sanctioned it.

Look at it from his viewpoint. Abdullah has nothing to show by way of legacy at this point. After his 92% landslide majority of parliamentary seats in 2003, the record has been one of a successful failure all the way until now, and he deserves an opportunity to make 11th hour redemption of his record by 2010.

If he were to just give up, Tun Mahathir, Mahathirism and those subscribing to Mahathirism would have won. After what Mahathirism has done to this country, the effects of which are generational, it is a sin not to fight it.

The ironic bit about Penang UMNO (with Datuk Ahmad Ismail’s role as adviser) still pledging support for the beleaguered PM’s 2010 power transition plan is intriguing and raises speculations that his racist talk and subsequent slap on the wrist is a political manoeuver with highest level complicity for a political purpose.

ctc537 Says:

Today at 08: 03.44 (1 hour ago)
With no credible leader to lead the party, Umno is doomed. I had doubts but it is becoming ever more likely that DSAI is the PM-In-Waiting and not Najib Tun Rajak.

harmanamri Says:

Today at 08: 11.19 (1 hour ago)
Ahmad Ismail’s presence at the Penang UMNO meeting and press conference is UMNO’s way of spitting on MCA and Gerakan faces.

AhPek Says:

Today at 08: 16.23 (1 hour ago)
It’s incredible news and it would also mean that there is a likelihood as well that Anwar Ibrahim will be new PM between 9th October and the Dec UMNO Election.
Abdullah can then go down in history as the man who has helped to put Malaysia back on to the road to join the group of civilised nations instead of slipping down the slope to join the nations of Banana Republics.

devilmaster Says:

Today at 08: 19.45 (1 hour ago)
Pakatan Rakyat should help slow down AAB’s exit. Dont force him to hand over the Umno leadership so soon to the Altan**** murderer.

Jeffrey Says:

Today at 08: 33.23 (48 minutes ago)
PM’s decision to fight and remain in his post is probably good for Pakatan Rakyat’s cause. For it means UMNO will be divided and factionalism greater. Component parties seeing big brother divided will more likely dissociate from the coalition.

UMNO is steeped with Mahathirism, TDM’s legacy, political culture, ideology and ways of doing things. Even though increasingly rejected by more and more rakyat, UMNO apears unable to fre itself from this and reinvent/reform.

Mahathirism is only good – and can be held together – by an authoritarian Machiavellan leader like TDM. Mahathirism (like Communism) contains contradictions, the seeds of its own unravelling in that a strong and authritarian leader like TDM could not have a deputy or successor exactly like him because the latter would compete to unseat the number one. So a person of quite opposite character was chosen as TDM’s deputy and successor, if only contemplated for an interim period. However such a person of opposite character cannot hold Mahathirism (in UMNO) together. Realising this, TDM wants to unseat his own anointed successor and rallies his people within UMNO to do so.

However TDM is not having his ways because the man fights back which puts the present number 2 in dilemma as to what to do.

Whether present No. 2 fights no 1. and stays with No. 1 to fight No. 3 and 4, UMNO is in for a fight and a state of disunity at a time when the “Barbarians are already at the gates” ready to take over Puterajaya.

Freddy Says:

Today at 08: 34.23 (47 minutes ago)
apologies YB … off topic but important ..

be warned that food products from the tainted milk scandal could be on malaysian shelves. singapore has taken preventive actions by recalling the products but due to non-transparency in malaysia and our health minister probably doing nothing, it would be wise to pay attention to what’s the singapore gomen is doing.

read more at my blog.

Mr Smith Says:

Today at 08: 34.52 (46 minutes ago)

After almost five years of adulation and hero-worshiping of the Prime Minister and UMNO president, his own Cabinet Ministers and UMNO Supreme Council members are now blaming their boss for all the ills confronting the nation.

They are completely exonerating themselves of all blame and holding Abdullah solely responsible and accountable for all the failures and broken election promises, which undoubtedly are manifold.

Isn’t it a universal fact that in a democratic government the chief executive and his cabinet work on collective responsibility?

If Abdullah failed in managing the economy, aren’t his ministers and UMNO supreme council members equally culpable? Didn’t they cheer him on each time he presented the Budget Speech since 2004? Didn’t they cheer him on each time he presented his presidential address at the party annual congress?

If all of them had given full support to the PM, wouldn’t he have succeeded in implementing the IPCMC or reforming the judiciary? Couldn’t he have succeeded in containing corruption and even putting some VVIPs behind bars?

Had his ministers and party leaders backed him with his reform agenda wouldn’t he have fulfilled some or most of his 2004 election promises?

They failed him and failed him real bad. In some instances, they were the very ones who hampered his work. It was the sheer unbridled arrogance of these UMNO warlords that brought down UMNO and BN on March 8.

So here they are today, washing their dirty hands, proclaiming innocence and putting all the blame squarely on the PM to the point of humiliating him.

To tell the party president in his face that he would not be able to secure the required 58 nominations to defend his post is the unkindest cut of all and quite alien to Malay culture.

veddy.lum74 Says:

Today at 08: 37.23 (44 minutes ago)
ok,fine,let the phucklah leads the umno,if this is what the ‘majority’ of umno members’ wishes,and coincidently,also the party rakyat’s wish,so,when they are weak,they will be easily destroyed!!!!

as what i have said,these umno leaders,no such word as ’shame’ in their vocabulary,their intension is very clear,aim the post betul-betul and corrupt as a whole(with own cronies)!

SELAMAT HARIRAYA AIDIL FITRI,the show is getting more and more exciting,hopefully,this time,the umno will tumble before HARIRAYA!

swipenter Says:

Today at 08: 48.06 (33 minutes ago)
Najib is not known for standing toe to toe and slug it out with his opponent. He might do a “brutus” to AAB instead.

AAB looks likely to fight all the way and not bow out like a limpid and why should he anyway? Umno warlord Ahmad Ismail’s involvement with AAB camp exposes the political complicity of playing the racial card to shore up support for AAB but it did not work. Then we had azan and ISA issues backfiring again on AAB and that is why he is pushed to the limits by his non supporting Umno supreme council members to quit now and not in 2010. Perhaps AAB still thinks he can go out in a blaze of glory by instituting some reforms if he can survive this battle.

veddy.lum74 Says:

Today at 08: 49.13 (32 minutes ago)
i have seen your maya movie,it gives the signal that this ‘AN ‘combination is going to s p l i t very soon!

and like nik aziz and anwar said,if tdm returns to umno,the leaking titanic will sink even faster,deep-deep to the sea!!!

this ahmad ismail is a smart guy,he chooses this very moment to give sarcastic remarks and he knows very well that phucklah will not dare to touch him,umno election is at the corner!

oknyua Says:

Today at 08: 59.01 (22 minutes ago)
Before the 8th March tsunami, we were discussing who, from GERAKAN, would be the next CM in Penang as Koh TK had preferred the Federal post. Remember that thread?

I wrote it was an useless discussion/argument because the next CM would be Lim Guan Eng.

I would to say the same thing too. Let them fight it out in UMNO, but the next PM would be Dato Anwar Ibrahim. (May YB Lim KS be the future Deputy PM - any seconder to that?)

wesuffer Says:

Today at 09: 08.20 (13 minutes ago)
The former SAPP deputy president raymond tan was scratch his own wound this time. saying he was stop PM to ordering to arrest DAtuk yong , this statement is clearly show if any BN member can do anything which against law. because PM will covered up for them.

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