Friday, September 19, 2008

Crossing the political Rubicon

Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed is a two-term MP for Pulai. Apart from being in the new politics, he also writes for The Malaysian Insider while debating other matters at

Crossing the political Rubicon
SEPT 19 — The fantasy Sept 16 date for Barisan Nasional MPs to cross over to Pakatan Rakyat and enable Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be prime minister has come and gone.

The BN government under Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is still intact minus the two MPs from the Sabah Progressive Party.

And the 2010 transition plan between Abdullah and Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak is still on although many are less confident that it will last.

Abdullah has swapped ministerial portfolios with Najib, with him taking over as Minister of Defence, a crucial move to head off any coup attempts if the political situation turns against his favour.

Najib will now preside over the Ministry of Finance, in time to face criticisms over a potential deficit building 2009 Budget. It would be an extremely challenging task for him to balance the expected decline in the domestic economy and the impact of the systemic breakdown of the global financial system with the crisis of confidence in the political leadership of the country.

For Anwar, the malaise facing the BN must seem heaven-sent or probably just the folly of top BN leaders.

He is having his moment in the sun, dominating the headlines in the front pages of the local press, news websites and blogosphere.

I have met many members of the press who actually believe that Anwar has the required 30 MPs who will defect to help him form a government and become prime minister although he failed to produce his BN defectors to the press on Malaysia Day.

He has become the darling of the foreign press once again and their reporting has made him seem very important to the point where he is the only one that can save Malaysia.

In my opinion, it’s time for the top two leaders in Umno to take substantive action. They must do something to knock Anwar off the front pages of the local media, at the very least.

And they have got to find an honest and selfless solution to the leadership problem in the country.

There is only one acceptable way of shifting the public's attention away from Anwar. Maybe Najib should read the growing signs of discontent from the grassroots and maybe he should team up with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and vie for the Umno presidency with Muhyiddin as his deputy.

I think that move would shift attention away from Anwar to the Umno elections that might elect a new leader and prime minister and make Anwar less important in the future.

Should Najib make it as prime minister, I believe the party would consolidate behind him and the process of strengthening Umno would begin.

And then hopefully, once the political situation stabilises, Najib can then concentrate on the country's real problem, the economy.

The other choices that our leaders can take are not viable without damaging the economy.

I believe putting Anwar back in jail using the sodomy charge or Internal Security Act would be counterproductive and hand Pakatan Rakyat the government in the next elections.

The declaration of Emergency as a result of the expected unrest after Anwar's predicted return to jail would also damage our international reputation and repel foreign investors needed to provide capital for our economy.

The ball is now in Najib's hands, if he drops it by failing to take up the challenge from Umno members, maybe they will decide to drop him and find somebody else to be their leader.

He has to cross the political Rubicon before others decide to do so.

Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed is a two-term MP for Pulai. Apart from being in the new politics, he also writes for The Malaysian Insider while debating other matters at

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