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Sunday, July 10, 2011

From Bersih, Najib emerges a lonely loser: Even Hisham dumps him

Sulaiman Kamal | 6:34 PM | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Back to the wall, embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak fought back but judging from the tired rhetoric and an indifferent audience, the writing is on the wall for him. Not only is his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin actively courting warlords within their UMNO party to join forces and oust him, his own cousin Hishammuddin Hussein maight be switching camps.

"Within the Malay community, this time for the Bersih episode, most are pointing the finger at Hisham. In the past, we tend to pass it off as Hisham playing the bad guy to Najib's good guy. After all they are close cousins but this round, there are too many discrepancies," PAS MP for Kuala Selangor Dzulkefly Ahmad told Malaysia Chronicle.
"Many of the UMNO people see Hisham as following the Muhyiddin lead on this issue. Most believe Najib wanted to follow the King, but the ultras won the day and even his cousin was standing on their side."
UMNO the party will face repercussions
Dzulkefly also said the Bersih would leave a deep impact on UMNO, and not just Najib personally. Because most Malays still hold deep respect for the Agung, who in this instance had issued what the community had regarded as a very wise and balanced statement, they would blame UMNO for disrespecting the King.
Some of the questionmarks regarding Hisham's controversial decisions in the Bersih runup include, why didn't he immediately seize the opportunity to back Najib by uplifting the ban on the July 9 rally. Also, why didn't he rein in the Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar, who is his hand-picked successor to previous top cop Musa Hassan?
"Even after the rally was over, the first thing Hisham did was to accuse Bersih of not obeying the King. We all know the one who didn't obey the King is not Bersih but the Najib administration, so what is Hisham trying to do - poke fire for Najib?" asked Dzulkefly.
In a rare move, the King had attempted an 11th hour conciliation between the Najib administration and the Bersih supporters. The  Ruler advised Bersih to sacrifice their street protest and compromise with Najib. Bersih then accepted the PM's offer of a stadium rally, but the very next day Najib reneged on his word, using as an excuse the Bersih's choice of the Stadium Merdeka.
Najib then refused to compromise any further even though it was pointed to him that he was deliberately disobeying the King's advice.
Power equation
UMNO is split into several factions, led by the families of three former prime ministers. Najib's father was the second premier, the late Abdul Razak, and Hisham's dad the third premier, the late Hussein Onn. Fourth prime minister Mahathir Mohamad heads the third family. Eyeing a place in the queue is Khairy Jamaluddin, the son-in-law of 5th prime minister Abdullah Badawi.
Muhyiddin, the DPM and also UMNO No. 2, is considered a seat warmer for Mahathir's son Mukhriz. Together they control the right-wing or the ultras in UMNO.
Both Najib and Hisham have tried to move their party out from its racial roots. But each time, they were forced to surrender to Mahathir.
"For sure, the power equation is changing now in UMNO. I too am surprised at the latest development with Hisham going it alone rather than sticking with Najib. Perhaps, he has to consider his own future rather than hang onto a sinking ship," said Dzulkefly.
Blind and deaf
Meanwhile, Najib closed an eye to the huge crowds that thronged the streets of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. He went out of his way to emphasize that the rally for free and fair elections was unimportant and the work of only a small group of troublemakers led by his arch rivel Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim..
He insisted that "not even 10,000" people took part although the Bersih's own estimate was 100,000 and the police had arrested 1,667 people on Saturday. Ignoring the logic of his statistics, the 58-year PM clung to his view.
He insisted that if he had allowed UMNO members to take part, they would have outnumbered the Bersih supporters. Yet, UMNO Youth - which took part - could only summon 500 supporters while ultra rights group Perkasa netted between zero and 20 supporters in their Titiwangsa 'rally'.
But most telling was the news that UMNO information minister Ahmad Maslan was organising a nationwide tour to bolster support for Najib, much in the same way as Mahathir loyalists had done for him he sacked and jailed Anwar in 1998.
Today, a day after the Bersih rally was praised by international activists and drew sister-rallies in Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, London and Singapore, Najib insisted that he knew best.
“Umno is not afraid of fair elections. We will show that Umno is the best in the world ... Long live Umno! Long live Barisan Nasional! 1 Malaysia!” Najib told a crowd of 6,000 consisting mostly of representatives from UMNO and Silat Lincah on Sunday.

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