Hornbill Unleashed

August 12, 2013

Horse-trading intensifies in Umno: Race wide open, Malaysians may get a NEW PM

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Nawawi Mohamad, Stan LeeHorse-trading intensifies in Umno: Race wide open, Malaysians may get a NEW PM

During the ‘Cold War’ between the West, led by the US, against Russia and the Eastern Bloc countries, both so-called ‘superpowers’ had comparable military strength and arsenal to annihilate each other.

Thus, no one party was willing to be the first to push the button. And even when the two enemies were at ‘war’, because their might against each other was balanced out, peace of a sort could still be maintained.

Najib has upper hand but only for now

In UMNO, the warring factions are always on the move because there is no balance, let alone ‘check and balance’. At present party president Prime Minister Najib Razak has the upper hand. His enemies have tried to attack him from all the different directions and in different ways but failed to inflict critical damage.

Initially, expectation was strong that Najib’s biggest challenger would be the Muhyiddin-Zahid combo backed by former premier Mahathir Mohamad. Muhyiddin Yassin is of course the UMNO No. 2 as well as deputy prime minister, while Zahid Hamidi is the Home Minister and one of UMNO’s 3 vice presidents.

Other challengers touted for the UMNO top spot were veteran Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh or Ku Li, the Abdullah Badawi-Khairy Jamaluddin faction and even a Daim Zainuddin-Mahathir-Muhyiddin team-up.

So far, UMNO insiders are convinced only of Ku Li contesting the UMNO presidency. Regardless that he may get only one vote from the 145,000-odd delegates due to cast their ballots on October 5, they are sure Ku Li will still throw his hat into the ring as a matter of ‘principle’.

And as for former premier Badawi, despite his tell-all book, UMNO insiders say he should know the time is not ripe yet for his son-in-law Khairy to mount any challenge. In fact, Khairy is not likely to go for even a VP post unless the ongoing horse-trading turns sour and their faction is forced to field him or face a wipe-out.

However, many speculate Badawi will back a proxy – perhaps former Malacca chief minister Ali Rustam – for the deputy presidency.

Daim and Mahathir comeback?

As for former finance minister Daim Zainuddin making a comeback, it’s a long shot. There are no signs of welcome for this maverick politician from the grassroots.

Chances are Daim and Mahathir would prefer to back Muhyiddin for the No. 1 spot. Muhyiddin will be their ‘front-man’ so to speak. Of course, they may have other choices but there is a talent vacuum in UMNO and there are few leaders with sufficient stature to vie for the top spot.

Their chances would be enhanced if Zahid agreed to team up with Muhyiddin and go for the No. 2 spot. But it is clear Zahid – who went to do the Umrah in Mecca last week – is still undecided.

While Zahid and Muhyiddin get on fine, it is not clear yet that Muhyiddin – even with the backing of Mahathir and Daim – can beat Najib.

So why should Zahid risk so much, especially since lures are also being thrown out to him from the Najib camp to strike a pact with co-VPs Shafie Apdal and Hishammuddin Hussein to defend their existing positions.

Muhyiddin more effective than ‘spendthrift’ Najib?

What about Muhyiddin himself? How does he feel about the entire contest? Is he really so ambitious as to want a shot at the Umno presidency or so non-ambitious as to be willing to slink away without even trying?

Firstly, the recent fiasco over dog-trainer Maznah Yusof, where Muhyiddin was caught red-handed trying to stir Malay sentiments against the non-Malays, is unlikely to harm him much.

It won’t help him either because he was shown to have been careless with his words but then UMNO is a very pro-Malay party, so it won’t cut the votes for him should he really decide to chase the No. 1 spot.

Supporting the views of many observers that Muhyiddin will challenge his boss is the emergence of subtle the threats in the Najib-aligned media to expose the former Johor chief minister for his past business indiscretions.

But again, that is unlikely to stop Muhyiddin if Mahathir and Daim assure him of their all-out support. After all, as UMNO Women’s chief Shahrizat Jalil famoulry said, who in UMNO does not have “problems”.

Also, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. However much Muhyiddin may have salted away, his camp can always counter by exposing how Najib and wife Rosmah Mansor are alleged to have carted off even more – perhaps at least 10 to 20 times more!

This is why Muhyiddin’s supporters believe there is no reason why their man cannot take on the PM’s job and do it much better than Najib. Not only has Najib been corrupt, he has been incompetent, spendthrift and lost even more seats to the Opposition than Badawi did in 2008, they allege.

Muhyiddin’s dilemma

So what is it to be for Muhyiddin? Why is he still hiding his hand? Is it still too early or is he still unsure? Some say he is hoping to remain as No. 2 and the Najib camp seems to be promising him this status quo by advocating no contest for the top 2 posts.

But what if some dark horse decided to challenge him? How can he be sure Najib, Badawi or some other faction, including the Mahathir camp, won’t back-stab him and throw their support behind another rival?

Those not in UMNO might find it hard to believe, but Ali Rustam or even Isa Samad – despite their money politics record – can easily give Muhyiddin a tough fight for the No. 2 spot. So for Muhyiddin, it may also be case of ‘damned’ if he contests, ‘damned’ if he doesn’t!

There is a Malay proverb saying, Kalau kail panjang sejengkal, lautan dalam jangan diduga (if your line is just the span of your palm, do not even think of fishing in the deep ocean).

Perhaps, Muhyiddin’s biggest issue is his purported lack of grassroots support. This may be the core basis for his indecision. Yet ask anyone in Johor including the non-Malays, and they will acknowledge that Muhyiddin can still “get things done even though he may be naughty. The worst is if he is naughty and cannot get things done, he would have been finished a long time ago.”

With 7 weeks or so to go, Muhyiddin is certainly not giving up at all. He is watching and monitoring. One good indication for him is that support seems to be rising. There seems to be an air of expectation that he will take on Najib as can be seen in the much-larger-than-expected turnout at his Hari Raya open house in Pagoh, where more than 30,000 people came to wish him well.

Race wide open unless Dr M is appeased?

Whichever way the chips fall, the permutations are certainly mind-boggling.

With UMNO’s direct access to the all-powerful prime minister’s post, it is not surprising at all there is so much infighting and horse-trading going on. And unless, kingpin Mahathir is fully satisfied and appeased, rest assured the race for the UMNO presidency is still very much wide open.

So for Malaysians who are non-UMNO members, they should not be surprised if after October 5 they find themselves saddled with a brand ‘new’ prime minister they had not prepared for at all.

3 Comments »

  1. LKY has made Singapore great and that is the view of the whole world, especially the developed nations. Why they site their headquarters in that small red dot and not in Malaysia speaks volumes of Singapore. Malaysians work in Singapore and some became Singapore citizens. I have not heard of Singaporeans (including Malays) who want to be Malaysians. The truth is LKY made Singapore into a first worl nation, while our leaders are still continuing to steal from the people like a third world nation.

    Comment by Pam — August 12, 2013 @ 11:13 AM | Reply

  2. America takes merely four years or a maximum of eight years to see a new president, but Malaysia takes 22 years to see change in leadership. If the present one is inept, corrupt , lackadaisical, rhetorical, indecisive, inefficient, unpopular, tyrannical or a mere seat warmer, democratically he could be removed. Leaders must understand that they dispensable and willing to be discarded by the rakyat. Nothing to be sentimental about a leader

    Comment by i knowit all — August 12, 2013 @ 9:12 AM | Reply

  3. Get rid of the kerala devil and send it to hell for good

    Comment by tigeryk — August 12, 2013 @ 3:40 AM | Reply


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