Mahathir Mohamad has come out yet again, this time suggesting that Abdullah Badawi may not step down as Prime Minister in March 2009 when Najib Razak takes over the UMNO leadership.
"There is talk that even if Najib becomes Umno president, he may not be the Prime Minister. I hear news that Abdullah is still interested to continue serving as Prime Minister"- The Malaysian Insider.
Is Mahathir Mohamad merely pointing out a possible outcome with no card underneath his sleeves, or is he dropping a hint to Abdullah Badawi indicating that the latter still holds the Ace?
Echoing Mahathir Mohamad, is the evergreen Ku Li.
Najib Razak takes over as party president in March.
“That is his prerogative, he has received the mandate for five years,” said Razaleigh in response to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s contention that Abdullah was still interested to remain in power after the party polls.
“He commands the confidence of the majority of the MPs. And the Prime Minister is appointed by the King and not by the Umno General Assembly”- The Malaysian Insider.
Tengku Razeleigh went as far as even stating that he would support Abdullah Badawi, should the latter choose to remain in power.
The statement made my Mahathir Mohamad, and the immediate response by Tengku Razaleigh seems pre-meditated. After withdrawing his support for Najib Razak, it was quite obvious that Mahathir Mohamad had endorsed Tengku Razaleigh’s bid to challenge for UMNO’s top post. Many political observers back then speculated that they had gotten over their past bitter rivalry. Well, they may have been right.
Have Mahathir Mohamad and Tengku Razaleigh drawn themselves into playing their own version of the 'Mind Game' to set up the spark that would eventually see the destruction of UMNO, before they pick up the bits and pieces to re-launch it again?
Although an unpopular figure in the eye of most Malaysians to lead the nation, Najib Razak has what it takes to consolidate UMNO. Mahathir Mohamad had lost his trust in Najib Razak when Najib chose to stand by Abdullah Badawi, even when Mahathir had openly supported him. He saw Najib as an ally, but Najib stuck with Abdullah Badawi instead. Looking at this, the prospect of Najib coming into power does not appeal to Mahathir Mohamad anymore as it does not necessarily guarantee his well-being amongst those in power. Besides, Mahathir’s ego is too high to allow a personality that turned his back on him to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
It is a known fact that Mahathir Mohamad, is a shrewd politician. The Anwar Ibrahim saga was testimony to the character of this man. Today, those in UMNO who once worshipped him, have turned into his very own assailants. Is Mahathir prepared to allow these UMNO figures sit at the helm and continue to rule, while he continues to be at the sidelines? The answer is no. However, it is likely that this is how the scenario would turn out to be should Najib Razak become Prime Minister. I do not agree with the notion that Najib’s return would mean the return of Mahathir. However, it would surely mean the return of Mahathirism. We are set to see the same autocratic style of politics. And for once, ironically, this would be horrific even for Mahathir Mohamad.
Tengku Razaleigh, on the other, got a thrashing in his bid to require the minimum nominations needed to challenge Najib Razak. Any hope he had of moving up the ranks in UMNO is as good as gone. Yes, Tengku Razaleigh has been buried although he had far less controversies hanging over his head compared to Najib Razak. He had been buried on the day the official nomination counting ended in the same land that he donated to UMNO to house their Head Quarters.
Now, Mahathir Mohamad and Tengku Razaleigh share a common ground; both feel betrayed by UMNO, and both know they have nothing to lose. Driven by frustration, they wouldn’t mind seeing the destruction of UMNO. To be fair to Ku Li, undoubtedly being the kinder of the two and one who has shown much love towards the party, this is not the same UMNO that it once used to be.
However, as mentioned earlier, with Najib at the forefront, UMNO would only grow stronger. They need Abdullah Badawi to remain in power for as long as possible to enable the already existing cracks in UMNO to widen up. This would turn out to be an advantage for Mahathir Mohamad and Tengku Razaleigh. They would be able to exploit on these cracks, and even possibly exert their influence on some prominent figures within the party.
Therefore, it does make sense for Mahathir to indicate out of the blues, that Abdullah Badawi may not step down. Actually, it was a twisted way of saying that Abdullah Badawi need not step down. And almost immediately, this was exactly what Tengku Razaleigh reiterated. Tengku Razaleigh also mentioned that the Prime Minister is one who commands the confidence of majority of the Parliament, and not UMNO General Assembly. He is well aware, that should this scenario occur, most of the Pakatan MPs would root for Abdullah Badawi. Pakatan Rakyat, particularly Anwar Ibrahim and Lim Kit Siang, have continuously condemned the prospect of Najib Razak becoming Prime Minister, due to unanswered questions surrounding his credibility. Besides, Pakatan Rakyat also holds the view that UMNO would continue to wane under Abdullah Badawi. Yes, once again, the pieces are in place.
But, there is a staggering question that remains unanswered. Is Mahathir Mohamad taking it for granted that Anwar Ibrahim does not have the numbers to cross-over? If Anwar Ibrahim is on the verge of a takeover, as he continues to claim even today, this entire game plan by Mahathir would backfire as Pakatan Rakyat would surely capitalize on UMNO’s downfall.
Or could it be a plan that Mahathir Mohamad is prepared to gamble on, even after taking into consideration the possibility of some MPs waiting to shift sides? He doesn’t seem to have many options to pick from, and this risk looks inevitable if he were to attempt to even be a pale shadow of the Big Charlie he once used to be.
Furthermore, even if Anwar Ibrahim takes over the Government, it does not exactly affect Mahathir Mohammad’s ego nor does it reflect his failure. Mahathir Mohamad had played his cards very well. He left UMNO, and in recent months, he had mentioned one too many times that if Anwar Ibrahim takes over, it is only because UMNO is weak and not because Anwar Ibrahim is a great leader. On the face of it, it appears that he has orchestrated these remarks in the past to be used as his defense should Anwar Ibrahim become the Prime Minister. In the end, Mahathir Mohamad would still have the last laugh at the very party he once guided.
by Argus Eye.
also published in Malaysia Today- http://mt.m2day.org/2008/content/view/15714/84/