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Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Najib-Muhyiddin toss up and Umno's fate

Sulaiman Kamal | 3:22 AM | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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One is irresponsible as they come. His name is Najib Razak. The other is dull as dishwater. His name is Muhyiddin Yassin. These two men are also prime minister and deputy prime minister of Malaysia. As the country braces for snap national polls, there is already speculation as to what will happen in UMNO, the largest political party, and will there be a shakeup after the 13th general election.

Already, supporters of the UMNO president and the deputy president have stepped up canvassing for popularity. Running out of ideas, Najib's advisers have renewed their whispering campaign that Najib is still the better choice, there is no one else in UMNO!
Such a sad admission of a lack of talent, but sadder still, it is true. However, the solution is not for Najib to stay. He has had his chance and has taken Malaysia to the worst depths ever. He must go, that is for sure.
To survive, UMNO must break away from its old-boys-club and dynastic politics. It must reform. If Muhyiddin is given a chance, he must promise to ensure new blood can climb the UMNO ladder. Otherwise, UMNO members should dump him too.
Najib and the association with murder and evil shenanigans
Ever-since taking over the premiership, Najib has been on a campaign to buff up his public image. We can thank Najib for the by-now defunct slogan 1Malaysia and be amazed at his strides in utilizing traditional and online media to engage the general public.
Najib tweets and organises meetings with his Facebook fans. His latest initiative is a 1Malaysia Roundtable meet where anyone who signs up at the website can take part. But while Najib is having fun with the latest technology and touching base with the masses, his abilities and credibility as a premier is running foul. Not only that, Malaysians appear to have given up on his capabilities as Finance minister. It is no longer unfair to say, no one listens his financial formulae anymore.
Instead, racial and religious instigation has become common place. Pornography is openly showcased during prime time TV. The very agency he oversees - the MACC is known as the Deathhouse. Supposed to be styled after the Hong Kong's ICAC, the Malaysian version is known more for mysterious deathfalls rather than for the cases it breaks.
Malaysians are also waiting for the looming corruption trial by French investigators into Najib's purchase of 3 submarines from French arms-maker DCN. Apart from the huge kickbacks allegedly paid by DCN to his proxies, everyone wants to know, did he have an affair with the Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu and did he and wife Rosmah Mansor order her killing?
Adding to the fire raging against Najib is the ruthlessness with which he goes about his business. Without breaking stride, since he took over in April 2009, nothing seems to be too low for him. As long as the ends justify the means, everything is fair game.
His vicious hand in orchestrating the take-over of Perak in 2009 was meant to be his grand wake-up call to UMNO and the nation at large. With the power-grab, his advisers trumpeted that this man - Najib Razak - was no wishy-washy sleep-on-the-job unlike his predecessor Abdullah Badawi.
But the fact that they can at the very outset of his rule pull such a foolish stunt, and expect the people to swallow it, only shows the depth of their depravation, a sheer lack of brains and the absence of plain old common-sense. Smiling, even giggling in glee at the Putrajaya press conference to announce that UMNO had re-taken Perak, Najib did not even realize he had just signed his own political death warrant, as well signal the start of a huge tumble for the Malay race.
Without doubt, since 1957, Najib is the worst-ever Prime Minister for Malaysia - for the BN, for UMNO and for Malays. It is not without reason PAS president Hadi Awang recently issued a rare full-frontal and unmistakable rebuke - stop turning the Malays into a 'stupid' and 'dishonest' race!
Muhyiddin and the association with racism and a lack of flair
Some believe, Najib should be replaced by his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin.
There are basically 3 camps in UMNO - the one loyal to the Razak and Hussein families, another to the Mahathir family and third which blows with the wind. This third faction is for the moment headed by Muhyiddin. On his own, Muhyiddin can't make it past the entrenched walls built by the old-boys-club in UMNO - the real ruling elite of the party and Malaysia.
The problem with Muhyiddin is his lack of imagination. He made what may be a fatal mistake when he thought the hawks in UMNO were gaining the upperhand. Publicly, he announced that he was Malay first and Malaysian second.
Actually, is that such a sin? Whatever the answer, the ruckus that followed shocked him and may cause him the premiership. Muhyiddin forgot that he wasn't just the deputy president of UMNO, a Malay party no doubt. The thing is, above that, he is the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia - a country made up of many wonderful races including the Malays.
But just as Najib cannot bring Altantuya back to life, Muhyddin cannot unsay what he said. However, Najib can make amends by co-operating fully in a public and transparent inquiry to prove his innocence in the Altantuya murder. As for Muhyiddin, all he needs to do is to say to the other races public and openly , "I am sorry, I didn't think what I was saying".
Whether it works and who Malaysians prefer to believe is the more sincere man is up to them.
Meanwhile, as it becomes apparent that Najib has 'lost it', his minders and media consultants have to work overtime to contain the fire from his alleged Sodomy II and Datuk T Sex Video conspiracies against Opposition Leader Anwar. There is also his sudden U-turn from a promised New Economic Model, the Church burnings of 2010, the Malay-language bibles and the Christian state rows in 2011.
Najib's gunning after Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng with an unceasing string of anti-Chinese, anti-Malay, anti-Muslim and anti-Christian attacks has ensured that Penang will remain a Pakatan Rakyat stronghold for the next decade. The arrogance of Mentri Besar Zambry Kadir in the aftermath of the Perak crisis has only consolidated his unpopularity amongst the Chinese in state.
In Selangor, his aggression and attempt to use similar tactics to wrest the state government from Anwar's PKR led to the death of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock. But the most awful thing about Najib is his failure to accept his mistakes, learn and stop the rot. Instead of cutting loose the past, Najib and media advisers have gone up a notch, again vowing to regain Selangor at whatever costs.
“I want to ask Najib, what does he mean ‘at all cost'. Kill? C4 (bombs)? Rob? Snatch? Blow up? Bribe? This is a statement of an uncivilised prime minister who doesn’t believe in democracy,” PKR deputy vice president Azmin Ali had challenged on Sunday.
As expected, there was total silence from the Najib camp. Outdated and outmoded, they believe they do not need to answer to an opposition although that opposition was elected by half the country electorate's in 2008. Is it surprising then that they have made themselves outcasts to a huge section of the Malaysian population with such dumb arrogance?
Muhyidden also has stumbled several times apart from the Malay first, Malaysian second fiasco.
The row over Namewee, the school principals Siti Inshah and another, the 'pariah' Interlok novel, his ambivalence each time he is questioned about extremist group Perkasa are just some of the doubts non-Malays will immediately point out if you were to ask, do you think Muhyiddin will make a good PM?
Racism is therefore the biggest question-mark for Muhyiddin. He is also tainted by corruption allegations during his Johor chief minister days. But it is still safe to say that he is the lesser of two evils, compared with Najib.
Talent vacuum endangers UMNO and also Malaysia
Najib, having been the prime minister for two years, has shown his hand. Muhyiddin has not. It may be he could be worse. But it is doubtful that Malaysia can be in a worse plight than it is now, after just 2 years of Najib's rule. The speed of the deterioration has been astounding and the full bill still unknown. It is likely to be uncovered only after he leaves, and that pundits agree will surely be the mother of all shockers.
It is for UMNO members to decide if they wish to propagate dynastic politics and keep the top party leadership restricted only to the sons of Abdul Razak, the second prime minister, Hussein Onn, the third prime minister, or Mahathir Mohamad, the fourth prime minister. All three men and their sons have already made UMNO their own private limited company.
If they do not, then they will have to vote for Muhyiddin, who will have to promise to open up the party.
After Muhyddin, who is in sight? At 74, Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh may have left it a little too little, a little too late. As for 34-year old Khairy Jamaluddin, son-in-law of fifth prime minister Abdullah Badawi, if the speculation is true he amassed hundreds of millions if not billions before he was 30, goodness! Imagine how much he could cart away by the time he reaches 56, the normal retirement age for most Malaysians.
Whatever it is, the talent vacuum in UMNO is serious thanks to the dirty politics promulgated by its old-boys club. The damage and fallout can and must be restricted to the party itself until it heals and grows healthy again. It must be pointed out that the rest of UMNO members, and there nearly 3 million of these, are normal regular people.
Malaysians especially UMNO members must understand what is happening in UMNO - the country's most powerful political party for the past 5 decades. They must not allow it to hurt the rest of the nation. They must realize how it has fallen into the hands of a grubby and greedy elite.
If they don't, then there can only be greater strife and untold misery, as slowly but surely Malaysia heads towards bankruptcy, most likely way ahead of the scheduled 2019.

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