Sunday, September 28, 2008

Razaleigh starts against Najib

September 28, 2008...8:35 am

Razaleigh starts against Najib

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As expected, right after Pak Lah’s announcement on the postponement of the Umno election from December to March 2009 to facilitate the transition, Razaleigh now starts his campaign with his first shots (read MalaysiaInsider here).

“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.

Yesterday’s posting to as reaction to Pak Lah’s announcement was “Handover to Najib - Will that Happen?” and we dabbled with the possibility that many things can happen between now and March. The opposing forces will certainly not sit around quietly for sure. It has started!

Razaleigh has long been against such a transition plan being a private affair between Pak Lah and Najib. So did Mahathir. Today, Razaleigh claims that such a handover plan is extra-constitutional. He offers himself to be nominated for the top post and says he’s confident of getting the required 58 nominations.

Interestingly, we never heard such claims when Mahathir was handing over to Pak Lah. So why is anyone and Razaleigh for that matter, starting to complain? Because he can’t accept Najib as the President and he will contest against Najib now.

Does that mean Pak Lah will not stand for election? He has to make that declaration before October 9, the start of the nomination month. So is there a possibility that Pak Lah will stand for election? Razaleigh says that he will not stand for election if Pak Lah is not defending his post. What does this mean?

If Pak Lah defends his position, Razaleigh does not contest and Pak Lah will win hands down. How then can the transition plan work? Just because Mahathir at that time handed over to Pak Lah in 2004, does it mean this practice is now norm and constitutional in 2008? After all, it affects the leadership of the country, not just Umno. Is this a private affair? If Pak Lah goes for the top post again, where is the transition?

If Pak Lah announces not to defend his position, will he announce support for Najib to lead to all divisions to nominate him with no contest? Or will he say that it’s up to the Divisions to decide to nominate Najib because it’s the only democratic way? What will happen to Najib when the game is thrown open wide? Razaleigh will enter the foray for sure.

So how will Pak Lah play? He has the cards and he will deal after Ramadhan. This reprieve period allows Pak Lah to have a good Hari Raya celebration and the pressure is off for now. Will Pak Lah throw a surprise with his announcement later? Time will tell.

For now, we know for sure Razaleigh has started his campaign. He has stayed focus on economics, the current plight of the country, rules of Umno and away from personal attacks. He is positioning himself as a statesman who has credentials in running the country better than Najib. And he means business. He is going for broke with his might and all this time round. And this is his time for sure, older but wiser than in 1986 going against Mahathir that time.

As for Najib, the focus is to get Pak Lah to quickly step down and handover to him. His appeal has not been to the Umno members nor Malaysians at large. He claims that this handover is the grassroots desire. Is it for sure, time will tell. So far, it has been largely a private affair between him and Pak Lah as well as the Supreme Council. He has no need to justify his position nor attempted to demonstrate his credibility for the position yet. He is just getting ready to receive the mantle from Pak Lah.

Outside of Umno, we have Mahathir absolutely silent on this news to postpone the Umno election to next March. What will he say to this? It’s strange that Mahathir has not responded promptly with his usual candor yet.

Another personality to consider is Anwar. Given his claims that he has the number of MPs to support his challenge to take over the BN Government, we can be sure that he will not just stand by and watch. Mahathir said in his blog that Anwar, Nik Abdul Aziz and Karpal Singh preferred Pak Lah to stay than to handover to Najib (read Mahathir’s blog posting here). Anwar doesn’t seem to think so.

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. (MalaysianInsider here)

Muhyiddin trying hard to hide his pleasure denying he had given pressure to Pak Lah to step down earlier and Najib declaring the postponement as a wise move hoping it will be accepted by the Umno members cannot paint a different picture other than Pak Lah was forced to accept a compromise.

For now, we have Razaleigh firing back, Anwar trying to speak without instigating the ISA on himself and Mahathir’s eerie silence to the recent events. Certainly, Pak Lah is back in control for now.

But will Pak Lah just give up and walk away next March? It may not be that simple. There are just too many people impacted by his action.

Watch this space!


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Tags: anwar, badawi, december, handover, malaysia, march, muhyiddin, najib, pak lah, razaleigh, transition, UMNO

1 Comment
September 28, 2008 at 12:57 pm
I enjoyed this insightful post. The difference between the “transition plan” and Mahathir’s handover to Pak Lah in 2003 was that Mahathir proposed and executed the handover before to his Deputy in the government and in the party before, not after party elections.
It’s completely within the rights of the PM or anyone else to resign mid-term, and to propose his Deputy for the position, but it is the Yang Dipertuan Agong who decides who the new Prime Minister, after he is satisfied that the candidate, in his opinion, commands the confidence of the majority in Parliament. At the time, that was reliably indicated by Abdullah’s being President of UMNO, the President of UMNO being taken automatically as the Chairman of the BN, with its then indisputable Parliamentary majority. As Deputy President, Abdullah would become President by virtue of Mahathir’s resignation. “Hand over”, is a figure of speech” in talking about elected positions.

Today’s “transition plan” is a very different matter. Abdullah is talking about “handing over” an elected position to his Deputy after party elections, taking for granted the results of those elections. This makes a mockery of those elections and of the rights of its ordinary members. It is a purely private arrangement that has nothing to do with the constitutional requirement that those positions are subject to contest by elections every three years. I think this is the point of Razaleigh’s criticism of the transition plan.

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