Saturday, October 4, 2008

Badawi: Will he fight or quit?

Din Merican: the Malaysian DJ BloggerEntries (RSS) Comments (RSS) Home Din Merican’s Welcome Chandra Muzaffar offers advice, says decisive Leader is needed and insinuates that Najib is the Man.Let us not forget RPK and other ISA detainees, say Malek Imitiaz Sarvar

Badawi: Will he fight or quit?
Posted by: dinobeano on: October 4, 2008

In: Anwar Ibrahim| Democracy| Politics Comment!
October 4, 2008

RPK Supporters at Badawi Open House-PWTC, Kuala Lumpur

Badawi has reached a turning point in his political carreer as UMNO President and Malaysian Prime Minister (No.5). In the next few days, he must decide what he must do. He has basically two clear choices: 1) Stay and fight the party elections, and stick to his 2010 transfer of power plan, or 2) quit with his metaphorical tail between his two legs, leaving his “legacy”, including his Islam Hadhari caper, in tatters.

On the basis of current reckoning and in the aftermath of the recent ISA arrests with Raja Petra Kamaruddin still in detention in Kamunting when Badawi sent a clear signal that he is no longer in control of his administration, the bets are that he will not contest the UMNO Presidency, and grant Najib Tun Razak a walkover.

This is because Badawi has consistently shown that he is unable to think and act strategically. He does not know how to use his considerable powers as both UMNO President and Prime Minister to discipline and rein in opposing forces within his own party or reorganise his own Cabinet so that he can remove those elements who are plotting against him and show us, the rakyat, that he is still very much in charge.

Not to be, since Badawi is not a fighter; he is a quitter. In fact, too nice to be in the rough and tumble of politics, he should have been an imam in some mosque somewhere in Kepala Batas. As I have said before, and I will say it again, “nice guys finish last”.

His recent mini Cabinet reschuffle where he switched his portfolio to Defence and handed the powerful Finance Ministry to Deputy Prime Minister Najib, for example, was, in my view, like Chamberlainian appeasement to Hitler at Munich, 1938. It is also a sign to us that he has given up.

It is not difficult to imagine what Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, even at 84 years of age, would do if he were in Badawi’s shoes. The arch Machiavellian of Malaysian politics–some would call him Iago as in Shakespeare’s Othello –who I still grudgingly admire and respect as a man of action, would have moved and acted decisively and mercilessly against his enemies in UMNO and the Opposition in one clean swoop (as in Ops Lalang, 1987). But then, we all know that Badawi is no Mahathir, and it was for that reason, the former Prime Minister chose the incumbent as his “worthy” successor.

If Badawi chooses option 2, as I think he likely would, he must negotiate a nice deal with Najib for an honourable exit–a kind of “peace with honour” pact which Nixon and Kissinger made with the Vietnamese in Paris, France, which saw, under President Gerald Ford, the withdrawal of American forces from Saigon(now Ho Chi Minh) in 1975.

This deal could in all probability involve some generous gratuity, a Tunship and protection for Khairy Jamaluddin and Kamaluddin Abdullah and other members of Badawi family and his key cronies.Of course, I am speculating, using my rather limited knowledge of UMNO style of resolving problems and conflicts.

Poor Tengku Razaleigh and his supporters who will be left out to play second fiddle. Could we see the return of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as Minister Mentor in the Najib cabinet? He may be persuaded to accept this role in the interest of UMNO and Malaysia! And Rosmah Mansor will no doubt be the most powerful woman in the country, and that would, of course, make our feminists and woman libbers very happy.

Once again on a silver platter, Najib will be handed the UMNO Presidency and the premiership of Malaysia. But the question is: how long can Najib hold on to power, given strong sentiments against UMNO and Barisan Nasional and what kind of legacy will he leave behind, given his track record of a lack of discretion and character flaws?

I do believe that Najib will be very brutal towards his political enemies and will not hesitate to use all legislative and administrative powers of his office to suppress dissent and silence the Opposition and his critics, like Raja Petra Kamaruddin and his friends in the blogging community.

What about the alternative route championed by Pakatan Rakyat, one that is founded freedom, democracy and justice and good governance? At this stage, all I can say is that Pakatan Rakyat led by Anwar Ibrahim cannot be conveniently brushed aside in our quest for enlightened leadership and a new Malaysia where we all can be the best that we can and choose to be. The optimist in me says that the best is yet to come. Let us discuss this.—Din Merican

All eyes on PM as he weighs his options
Wong Choon Mei | October 3, 2008
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has less than a week left to tell the nation whether or not he will defend the presidency of his ruling party UMNO - a decision that will have far-reaching implications not only for the Malay community but also for the entire country.

MCPX“As he has said, the decision is his,” a party insider told Malaysiakini. “So exactly when he announces it, we have to wait and see. But he will tell everybody on or before Oct 9, that is his promise and he will keep it - no matter what the final decision is.”

After five decades of snail-paced change, Malaysians have unexpectedly found themselves onboard an unstoppable political roller coaster this year. But after months of dizzying twists and turns, the ride may soon briefly pause for Abdullah to vacate the driver’s seat in favour of his deputy, Najib Abdul Razak.

Once that is done, other Umno leaders are expected to climb in and stake their claim for the top two posts. Party elder, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, has already thrown in his hat for the party presidency though he is not expected to beat Najib.

Meanwhile, party vice-president Muhyiddin Yassin and former Youth chief Ahmad Zahid Hamidi are widely expected to offer themselves for the deputy presidency - which carries in tow the deputy premiership of the country.

Ahmad Zahid yesterday confirmed he will be going for the No 2 post. According to him, the party’s rank-and-file want him to contest.

Bows to pressure

Last week, Abdullah finally bowed to pressure to let the top two posts be contested. He agreed to drop an unpopular plan to hand power to Najib in 2010, accepting in place a new deal that will delay the party’s annual general assembly and election by three months to March 2009.

The prime minister, also known as Pak Lah, is said to have verbally agreed to quit before March, so that new candidates led by Najib can be fielded in the party election.

“It was designed to give Pak Lah an honourable exit,” said the party insider. “The grassroots don’t want him to stay because they don’t think he can contain Anwar Ibrahim. But we cannot be seen to be pushing him out. That’s not in our Malay culture, so we have to compromise.”

Claiming he was unfairly blamed for the party’s worst-ever performance during general election earlier this year, Abdullah’s supporters have tried hard to delay his exit. But the aftershock that thundered through both Umno and the Umno-led Barisan Nasional may have been too damaging.

“It is too late for any face-saving job. It is really too late,” said political analyst Khoo Kay Peng. “The damage done to the Barisan administration is irreversible.”

The Barisan coalition had for the first time lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority to the Pakatan Rakyat led by opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim, who won five of the country’s 13 states.

Back to December possible, but unlikely

Still, despite his humble ways, the prime minister has a famous independent streak. Earlier this month, a defiant Abdullah rattled his party with hints he may dig in and fight. However, this time around - although he has yet to confirm it - he is nonetheless expected to stick to the script.

Party watchers told Malaysiakini that Umno grassroots are stepping up demands for a leadership change and may even press the supreme council to switch party polls back to December.

But they do not think the council will agree unless Abdullah opted to defend his presidency.

A shift back to December would not only deny him and his camp additional time to shore up their positions, it could also thwart a leadership battle that could shatter Umno and create further friction within the Barisan.

“A leadership transition may give component parties justification to stay with Barisan and work out their differences. But whether the national political alignment can or cannot change depends on whether the new leader of Umno is willing to commit to reforms and liberalisation. If the new leader stands for pretty much the same, then it will only strengthen Anwar,”said Khoo.

Earlier this week, Barisan stalwart Gerakan lost a score of members to Anwar’s PKR party. Acting president Koh Tsu Koon admitted 60 percent of members wanted Gerakan to leave the Barisan and be independent or team up with PKR, which has a similar multi-racial structure.

“Don’t worry. Gerakan won’t divorce us,” said the party insider. “But all the more we need to move fast. Otherwise there’ll be no end to it - everyday, we will be fighting either among ourselves or with Anwar. Who is going to look after the country and economy?”

Anwar still in the power loop

An early handover to Najib will pit Anwar in direct confrontation with his arch rival of nearly two decades. Although his political pedigree may not be as impeccable, Anwar was favoured and chosen over the younger Najib in 1993 when Mahathir picked him to be his deputy premier.

Anwar - then regarded as an ultra-Malay - was well-loved by UMNO grassroots, but the 61-year old burned his political bridges after he was sacked from UMNO and the government in 1998 by Mahathir, who also jailed him. It was then that Anwar and his supporters formed Keadilan, later renamed PKR, to fight the UMNO-led Barisan government.

Analysts said even if Abdullah left quickly - allowing Najib to begin the process of healing UMNO sooner rather than later - Anwar would still figure prominently in the nation’s leadership equation. However, he may no longer be able to command the political limelight as before, given that attention may initially swing to the resurgent Najib and his programmes for the nation.

“The impact on Anwar will not be pronounced or prolonged. The forces in the Barisan are conflicting in nature. The coalition can only hold if UMNO liberalises and moves away from its Malay supremacy politics and not by deepening it,” said Khoo.

Since his release from prison in 2004, support for Anwar has shot up, boosted by his reform agenda and promises of a ‘Malaysia for Malaysians’ that has won the hearts of voters frustrated with the Barisan’s refusal to discard its divide-and-rule, race-based politics.

Can Najib do it?

Najib, on the other hand, is the eldest son of second prime minister Abdul Razak. A UK-trained economist (?), he entered politics at age 22 after the death of his father, who was revered in UMNO for introducing the controversial New Economic Policy. While the NEP has benefitted and protected Malay rights, abuses in its implementation have also sidelined many non-Malays.

Now aged 55, Najib has been criticised for being too much of a status-quo politician, and even his benefactor Mahathir - who had pushed for his appointment as Abdullah’s deputy in 2003 - recently chided him for being too loyal to the prime minister at the expense of the rest of the party.

Yet, his inner circle believe the best is yet to come. “Najib is only 55, the rest except for Ahmad Zahid are above 60,” said a Najib stalwart. “His is a courteous character, so it is inbuilt for him to control his words and actions. Not that he doesn’t have strong opinions, he just hasn’t had much chance to prove his stripes yet. We should give him time to come out of his shell and show us what he can really do.”

Muhyiddin, who is likely to go for the deputy president post is 61 years old, while Razaleigh - who is seeking to contest the president post for the third time - is 71. Ahmad Zahid - who was formerly Najib’s political secretary - is 55.

While Najib’s early entry into politics has helped him to mature faster than his peers, it has also made him appear to be older than his age. Political watchers believe the key to his success may lie in whether he can distance himself from the stuffy, sycophantic UMNO stereotypes that younger Malaysians - including young Malays - these days equate with corruption and racism.

“His immediate asset is that he is young - physically and mentally fit. He has shown he can appeal to the older Malays. Hopefully he can also gel with younger voters - the Generation Y - and transform both UMNO and the country,” said his supporter.

Previously tipped to endorse Muhyiddin as his number two, Najib is expected to keep his options diplomatically open now that there is the possibility of Ahmad Zahid joining in the fray.


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9 Responses to "Badawi: Will he fight or quit?"
1 | loosecannon

October 4th, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Badawi’s is a lost cause. That he is ineffective and a lame duck PM is a foregone conclusion. Even now that his days are numbered, he’s not even attempting to put a few parting shots for good measure. He’s going down in history as a Prime Minister who did nothing for our cuntry. What a bloody waste. What a bloody shame. What a bane to us all.

2 | queenie

October 4th, 2008 at 2:24 pm

He has just got the chopper deal eurocopter. Maybe that is enough for the day?

3 | Din Ahmad

October 4th, 2008 at 3:02 pm

Looking at record of accomplishment and past behavior, I am in agreement with Din Merican and loosecannon that Badawi will not fight. He prefers the friendly and easy way out. A Tunship would be necessary and the rest would be befitting the retirement of a Prime Minister. He needs to fulfill the “..and they lived happily ever after.” maxim with the beloved Dato Seri Utama (Malacca) Jeanne Danker-Abdullah. Khairy and Kamal would definitely need to be protected. How and for how long it can be secured will be an issue that Khairy and Kamal need to attend to carefully. A lucrative, long term and water tight agreement with the Ministry of Defense would be a good way of doing it.

The other major assumption is that Najib would be acceptable to the UMNO members. Alternatively, there is a way to ensure his acceptance. It is a known fact that UMNO normally will be able to close ranks and accept a new President when the time is ripe. Somehow or other at crucial times UMNO delegates knows what to do and the leadership knows how to pull them together. There is some magic in UMNO that always ensure this, and ensuring it with a big smile on the faces of its delegates.

With this in place, the only issue left is the position of Ku Li and Muhyiddin. Will Ku Li be able to garner his 58 nominations to at least have a fighting chance against Najib or will his struggle comes to a sniveling end? Will Mahathir continue to support Ku Li or its timely to switch back to Najib ?

Muhyiddin, the person that has been very upfront about ending Badawi’s days as the President of UMNO is suddenly faced with a new challenge in the form of Zahid Hamidi. While Zahid is junior to him in UMNO, Zahid’s relationship with Najib may well push Muhyiddin over the precipice .

Therefore, with the likelihood of both Ku Li and Muhyiddin being left in the cold, what would they do? Will they fight back as a team, hence increasing their chance of winning, knowing very well that Najib would not offically endorse a candidate as his running mate ? If they do not have the ability to win, will they take their fight outside UMNO, after all the fight is for teh country’s leadership not UMNO’s presidency. The UMNO presidency is just a proxy for being the Prime Minister, for now.

All this is under the assumption that the Pakatan Rakyat would be staying quiet on the sidelines. It may not be the case. Could the present tranquility be the lull before the storm? The “Maaf Dzahir Dan Batin” spirit of Hari Raya is just about to be tested at its inner core!!

4 | Tean

October 4th, 2008 at 3:13 pm

All indicators telling us that Dollah sleeping trend is over. Now they are talking about no 2. Ahmad Zaid and Rastam already expressed their interest. They are fighting for No 2 as though current No 1 is already history.

To us that is not important. What is important is will DSAI taking over the government and caged all those UMNO baboon in Kamunting and Raja Petra can smoke his cigar.

As of today, they still smoke cigar and Raja Petra living in his cage with dates and plain water as staple diet.

If Najib taking over or as you said Rosmah, then we would not be surprised that all of us might one day joining RPK in Kamunting.

5 | Palaniappan

October 4th, 2008 at 3:26 pm

I bet Pak Lah is going to throw some surprises. He will never quit until he carves a niche for himself. He will carry out his reforms (I am sure no one will believe my words) and ensure he is remembered, not as a weakling but as a leader whose style is different from his predecessors. Whether you believe me or not, Pak Lah is going to fight. Still waters run deep.
Palaniappan, I compliment you on your faith in Badawi, but what have you been doing all these 5 years? Name me one substantive Badawi achievement. Still waters run into an empty hollow.

As someone who was his senior and resident on the same floor and block in the 2nd Residential College, University of Malaya in the 1960s, I know him well, and from my friends in Wisma Putra, I also learned that he was a useless Foreign Minister who never cared to even read his briefing notes.

Don’t judge a book by its cover. Listen, observe and connect, and then you can things in a more realistic light. But you are entitled you to your opinion, and I hope you are right that Badawi “is going to fight”.—Din Merican

6 | dinobeano

October 4th, 2008 at 3:31 pm

Tean,it will be a Super ISA and everyone will be silenced. That will be the day; we must ensure that this nightmare scenario does not come to pass. If it does, many who speak up and choose to criticise the present administration today will end playing “troupe keling” in Kamunting. Sabai, sabai.

Good comments, Din Ahmad.—Din Merican

7 | Tean

October 4th, 2008 at 4:16 pm

Brother Din,

It will surely come if DSAI is not making his move fast enough. RPK already there. Bala also disappeared in silence.

Now what about DSAI.DSAI said he wanted to appoint Najib as Ambassador to Mongolia. Najib will surely reciprocate by giving DSAI his ISA credential and send him to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenepotentiary to Kamunting.

Afterall, they already said that DSAI is a treat to the country and Kamunting is the blue chip posting for people like DSAI. they just change his name from D. SAI to D. ISA. By then we will have;

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
to Kamunting
The credential letter will be signed by Syed Hamid Alblur.
Let us see who has the last laugh, Tean, you or me. You would be well advised to hedge your open position. As a former civil servant and diplomat, I expect you to understand the intracacies of changing a government. Parliament is not in session; the motion to have an emergency session of Parliament was rejected by the Prime Minister, and the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat is silent like a mouse/tikus while one of the Dewan Rakyat officials says Anwar does not know Parliamentary rules, forgetting that the PKR leader was, and is, a member of Parliament. What crap is that!!—Din Merican.

8 | Palaniappan

October 4th, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Thank you Din. I do agree your comments on Badawi but I just want to give a different view. Now everyone is bashing him for his ineffectiveness. May be he has just waken from his deep sleep and realizes that things have gone beyond his control. Don’t you agree that he has to do something good for him to be remembered? Hope he repeals the draconian ISA. Wishful thinking!

9 | Din Ahmad

October 4th, 2008 at 5:24 pm


Badawi is trying hard to beat the record creating by Sleeping Beauty. The only difference is that his Princess Jane cannot charm him out of his slumber (or what the Malays call selamba - a tidak apa attitude).

This tidak apa attitude will rob him from his last chance of actually making a difference in this country and also re-writing the history from what most people thought would be.

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