Your PRESENT is the point at which flesh and matter meet with the spirit. Therefore "THE PRESENT IS THE POINT OF POWER" in your current time, as you think of it. The PRESENT is your point of a c t i o n, f o c u s and p o w e r, and from that point of volition you form both your F U T U R E AND P A S T. Computer,Internet, Marketing, Interesting Stuff, google, tips, power.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
RAMANDAN PEACE For ABDULLAH & MAHATHIR; STANDING OVATION & More SUPPORT for Dr Mahathir; EARLY Election in NOVEMBER 2007 & The TIFF SO FAR
RAMADAN, the month of fasting, has great significance for Muslims. It is a period Muslims observe the tenets of sacrifice, restraint, and test of will, refrain, and patience and of charity. So it is no surprise that both Abdullah and Mahathir are observing most of these rules - only if they could do so throughoutthe year.
But things are simmering up with the bribery report file by a gang of five over the defeat of Dr Mahathir in the Kubang Pasu election as a delegate. And with Dr Mahathir promise to wash more dirty linens, the UMNO general assembly will be keenly watched. There was also a claim by one of his supporter that he was quarantined.
Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir Wednesday claimed that support for his father, former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had grown stronger after he exposed political corruption. And a standing ovation was given to Dr Mahathir on arrival art the wedding of the son of the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat Datuk Ramli Ngah compared to a lukewarm applause for Datuk Seri Abdullah. Mukhriz also objected to former
Kedah menteri besar Osman Aroff tosit in the Umno disciplinary appeal panel to avoid a conflict of interest
But Prime Minister Abdullah as the President of UMNO and with proper strategy following previous precedence has postponed the party polls, has strengthened his position. Though his deputy has denied the significance of this postponement, many agreed that it will point to an early general election possible in November 2007
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Mukhriz Claims Stronger Support For Dr M After Bribery Exposure; October 04, 2006 PENANG, Oct 4 (Bernama) -- Umno Youth Exco member Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir Wednesday claimed that support for his father, former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had grown stronger after he exposed political corruption in the Umno Kubang Pasu divisional election on Sept 9. Mukhriz said an increasing number of Umno members now understood what went on during the election to choose delegates to the Umno general assembly. He said the party members could see that there were some people who apparently did not value his father's services to the extent of using bribes to defeat him.
"I also see that their efforts to frustrate my father have not only failed but also backfired on them," he told reporters after presenting Raya gifts to about 50 orphans and poor people at Masjid Kampung Rawa here. Mukhriz was commenting on the action by five branch leaders in the Kubang Pasu division who submitted an official complaint to the Umno Disciplinary Board last Friday alleging bribes and other wrongdoings during the delegates' election.
Dr Mahathir lost in the contest to become a delegate but Mukhriz was successful. Mukhriz denied a statement by the division's secretary Samsuddin Ahmad that the five branch leaders were his strong supporters.
He said he was not involved in the effort by the five to lodge the complaint although he knew them. "I know that they lodged the complaint not to confirm what my father said but to save Umno from political corruption," he added.
= = = = = == From NST, 03 Oct 2006; All bets on early general election; Syed Nadzri -------------------------------------------------------- THE general election is likely to be held in October or November next year. I can think of at least three main reasons to back this prediction, triggered, of course, by Umno’s decision four days ago to postpone its party polls to after this national vote-casting.
One, the opportunities that come with the 50th anniversary of Merdeka next year; two, the further boost that can come from the Budget 2008 announcement expected around September; and three, the give-away clues drawn from the move to defer the Umno polls itself.There are three or four other reasons related to political strategies and expediency which I shall not venture to discuss for now.
The Merdeka Golden Jubilee is expected to be a monumental affair and will present the greatest opportunity for the ruling party to whip up the sense of oneness and harmony as well as the spirit of independence, nationalism, Malaysianism, patriotism, multiracialism and all the other "isms" we can think of. It will culminate in mammoth celebrations on Aug 31, and last until mid-September when fasting month begins. For the Barisan Nasional government, it’s an effective way, we gather, of firing up its popularity, and what better occasion than a national euphoria it can ride on. It will be a perfect time too, given the celebrative mood, for internal spats that might exist among component parties to be forgotten, and for them to close ranks.
Because of this, many observers predict that Budget 2008 will be a real election Budget, or a Budget for the rakyat, what with most projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan well and truly on course. Above all, perhaps, it was the decision to postpone the Umno elections that provided the strongest indication. Yes, this is nothing unusual in the country’s unique national vis-a-vis ruling party electoral timetable. In fact, it’s the third time in eight years, the first in 1999 and then again in 2003. Even the reasons have all been quite the same — to reduce intra-party politicking, and keep focused on the main agenda of the general election.
But the circumstances and timeline differ a little this time. Consider this. In the first instance, Umno’s triennial election was scheduled for November 1999, while the deadline for the general election was April 2000, a difference of only five months. Subsequently, the party polls were deferred to May 2000, while the general election was brought forward to November 1999. On the second occasion, the Umno election was due in May 2003 (then pushed to September 2004), while the general election was held in March 2004, about a 10-month difference.
This time, however, there is — or was — a vast gap between the Umno polls originally due around September next year to the general election, which can be stretched until March 2009 — more than 1½ years. So, it can be speculated that the general election cannot be far away. And, coupled with the two other factors given earlier, the last quarter of next yearlooks a good bet. Even if, as always, supplementary factors like weather and festivals are taken into consideration.
The fasting month will end in mid-October and major school exams will be over in November. Even the Budget debate would be over by then to enable Parliament to be dissolved. And if indeed it is held around that time, it will be the first time in the country’s history that the general election is called less than four years after the last one.
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MALAYSIA INSIGHT Calm before the storm? Given the latest developments in KL, expect more dirty linen to be washed in public By S JAYASANKARAN KL CORRESPONDENT; Published October 2, 2006 THE United Malays National Organisation, Malaysia's ruling party, has decided to defer its party elections, scheduled for next year, to a time after the next general election. Constitutionally, the latter only needs to be called by 2009. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also Umno president, said that it was 'party policy'. Mr Abdullah told reporters: 'It has proved beneficial to the party as it allows us to give full attention and focus on the country's development projects.' The Umno Constitution does provide for its triennial polls to be deferred by up to 18 months but postponements have been a recent thing, first introduced by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1999 following the divide among ethnic Malays in the wake of the sacking and jailing of former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim. That divide has been bridged, at least going by the results of the 2004 general elections where Mr Abdullah won the largest ever mandate in Malaysian electoral history. So why now?
Umno isn't saying, but political analysts believe that it has to do with Dr Mahathir, who is currently embroiled in a war of words with Mr Abdullah. The ex-premier has relentlessly attacked his successor over a host of issues and seems to be going all out to unseat Mr Abdullah.From that perspective, postponing the elections makes sense especially if you are a leader under somewhat of a siege. It reduces politicking within the party and, more importantly, diminishes the risk of allowing Dr Mahathir to act as a lightning rod for Umno members disaffected with Mr Abdullah's leadership. It also allows Mr Abdullah some valuable breathing space, time for projects under his Ninth Malaysia Plan to be doled out and the money to trickle down. Although the Plan was announced in March, very little by way of actual implementation has happened, a fact that's not gone unnoticed. In this regard, former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah recently talked about the seeming torpor of the economy, suggesting that 'nothing is happening'. Few economists would disagree with his sentiments. Example: the enabling legislation to pave the way for the development of southern Johor, a pet project of Mr Abdullah, was supposed to have been tabled in Parliament in August. Now, it seems unlikely to happen until early next year. Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir is unlikely to go away. He has promised to continue his attacks and has threatened to reveal more 'examples' of the administration's 'mistakes' in the run-up to this November's Umno assembly. He is also likely to attend the meeting in his capacity as a former Umno president. The reception he gets will be scrutinised closely as a barometer of Mr Abdullah's standing within the party. Meanwhile another headache has just cropped up for Mr Abdullah. Last Friday, five members of Umno's Kubang Pasu division lodged reports with the party's disciplinary committee alleging that they had been bribed or intimidated into voting against Dr Mahathir in the division's polls in early September.
Dr Mahathir had been vying to be one of the division's seven delegates to attend the party's annual congress in November. Given that he had led the division for 30 years, everyone assumed that he would be a shoo-in. He lost, coming in eleventh out of seventeen candidates, and immediately claimed that his defeat was due to 'money' politics. Given the latest developments, expect more dirty linen to be washed in public. ____ http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/57603
Mukhriz says 'no' to Osman Aroff; Beh Lih Yi Oct 2, [extracts]
Former Menteri Besar , said Umno Youth exco Mukhriz Mahathir today. [...]
Mukhriz, who was successful in the same contest, said: "It won't be enough that he (Osman) excludes himself from all deliberations on the matter because the fact that he is there (in the panel) will put pressure on his colleagues in the deliberation of the complaint."
"I am saying it is insufficient for him (Osman) to just exclude himself but I think he should resign. As a member of the panel, (he) ought not to have campaigned against my dad because there is definitely a conflict of interest," he stressed. [...] ____ http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/57590
Kubang Pasu delegate: I was put under quarantine Muda Mohd Nor Oct 2, 06 6:38pm [extract]
An Umno branch leader in Kubang Pasu said he was 'quarantined' for six days during the run-up to the Sept 9 division contest which saw former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad failing in his bid to be elected as a delegate. Kampung Darat Umno chief Ibrahim Ariffin accused his employer Tekun Nasional Foundation of giving out the order because he was identified as a Mahathir supporter. The foundation falls under the Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Ministry.
Ibrahim, who was among the five who lodged a complaint with the Umno disciplinary board last week, told malaysiakini today he was only allowed to go to work at his office in Sungai Petani. [...] ____ http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/57602
LETTERS: Umno must make public its Kubang Pasu probe; Sulaiman Rejab Oct 2, 06 7:39pm
The Umno disciplinary committee must investigate thoroughly allegations by several Kubang Pasu Umno members that money was used to ensure former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was not elected as a delegate to the Umno general assembly.
Needless to say that if Umno does not come up with a finding that is credible in the eyes of the public, then it has a lot of explaining to do.
Mahathir has a lot of ground support. We all know that. During the recent wedding of the son of the parliamentary speaker Ramli Ngah, Mahathir was given a standing ovation as soon as he walked into the packed hall. In contrast, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was given a lukewarm applause when he came in earlier.
Abdullah and Umno have become Mahathir-phobic. Some may argue that the fact that Mahathir was given a standing ovation, and Abdullah was not, at the wedding ceremony is by no means a reflection of popularity, but it has certainly affected Umno and Abdullah.
To those who are Mahathir-phobic, keeping him away from the general assembly will be a good idea - him stealing the thunder will be disastrous for the present leadership.
So whether Umno had gone out of the way to ensure that Mahathir loses in the Kubang Pasu election remains a question in the minds of the people. All it takes is for one person to show proof that he was offered money to ensure that Mahathir loses in the election. That will cause irreversible damage to the present Umno leadership. Mahathir was member of parliament for Kubang Pasu for many terms. A majority of Kubang Pasu constituents still respect him as a leader. For him to be defeated in the recent divisional election is mind-boggling, After all, hewasn't seeking a position. He was only seeking to be a delegate to the gneral assembly.
It was Abdullah, who upon taking office in 2003, promised to combat corruption and to make his administration the most transparent one in the country's history. If Umno, under his stewardship has resorted to money politics, then Abdullah loses all credibility. A leader who denounces corruption in his very first policy speech and promises to combat it at all costs, but only to resort to it later, is not desired. That will be hypocrisy of the highest degree.
As a fee-paying member of Umno, I expect the party to take just two weeks to complete investigations into the report submitted to Brig Jeneral (Rtd) Husainay Hashim by the five members of Umno Kubang Pasu.
We will be waiting.
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BACKGROUND of TIFF
ABOVE: Prime Minister and BELOW Former Prime Minister
Wake me up at ; Thursday, 14 September 2006, from AILIRAN Khoo Boon Teik explores the “tiff” between former premier Mahathir and Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and looks at the undercurrents that led to the former premier's outbursts. On 22 June 2002, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced his intention to resign as Prime Minister and UMNO President. On 1 November 2003, he was succeeded by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
That sixteen-month transition in premiership, carefully managed to keep UMNO intact, was delicately presented to soothe the post-Reformasi public. The public never knew what UMNO offered or what Mahathir wanted for him to remain in office until 30 October 2003. Lost in transition
Whatever their unwritten terms, Mahathir’s agreement with UMNO or perhaps his later ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ with Abdullah had become worthlessby 1 May 2006 when Mahathir called this a ‘half-past six country which has no guts’.
After that, the in-thing was to spill one’s guts, or maybe to threaten so. At one point Mahathir said that Abdullah wasn’t UMNO’s ‘first choice’ to be his successor. By implication – a critical one since Mahathir hinted at ingratitude and broken promises – Abdullah was Mahathir’s choice.
Mahathir alluded to being ‘backstabbed’ and ‘demonized’. In public, he posed more and more demanding questions and stronger and stronger criticisms of Abdullah’s administration.
The Abdullah side – some Cabinet ministers, UMNO leaders and senior media figures – responded with harsher and harsher tones. Mahathir himself was reminded he’d given his word not to interfere with the ‘new’ government. Soon salvoes of mutual criticism converged into a barrage of accusation.
Figures of dissent
Into the fray was drawn Tun Musa Hitam. He spoke painfully of this round of UMNO infighting as only he could speak of UMNO’s pains of the past 25 years. Musa, being no Reformasi diehard, didn’t say Mahathir was nyanyuk (senile). But he diagnosed the doctor’s condition as ‘post-PM syndrome’. Into the fight leapt an unlikely combatant – Matthias Chang, Mahathir’s former political secretary. On 18 April, Chang called Minister of Foreign Affairs Syed Hamid Albar an ‘incompetent’ ‘big Napoleon’ over the government’s decision to stop building the ‘scenic’ or ‘crooked’ – but definitely half – bridge to Singapore. On 13 June, Chang called Abdullah’s son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, and New Straits Times Deputy Chairman Kalimullah Hassan ‘corrupt’ and ‘cowardly’ and accused them of campaigning to ‘demonize’ Mahathir.
Suddenly half-forgotten figures with an axe or two to grind emerged, almost casually so. Following a police assault on demonstrators protesting electricity rate increases, former Tenaga Chairman Ani Arope spoke of Tenaga’s ‘unequal treaties’ with the Independent Power Producers (IPP). He revealed that the Economic Planning Unit had compelled Tenaga to accept a higher price for IPP-supplied power than the IPP had asked. Mana boleh? ‘Ask the former premier,’ Ani Arope said.
From the shadows appeared the author of a surat layang whose identity had been a poorly kept ‘official secret’ since 1996. There was an unpublicized investigation of Syed Ahmad Idid Syed Abdullah’s accusations of judicial corruption. It didn’t result in any action being taken against any judge but led to Syed Ahmad Idid’s ignoble departure as High Court judge. Now the media gave him a chance to revisit his old allegations. Two judicial developments were perhaps not irrelevant to what was happening.
First, the Court of Appeal granted Sukma Darmawan Sasmitaat Madja’s appeal for a new trial on old charges. In 1998, Sukma had been jailed after he pleaded guilty to letting Anwar Ibrahim sodomize him. Later, Sukma maintained his innocence, claiming he ‘confessed’ only because he couldn’t withstand the torture by his interrogators. Second, Anwar’s RM100 million ‘defamation and conspiracy’ suit against Mahathir wound its way through the judicial process, with Anwar’s registering a long reply to Mahathir’s statement of defence. Fathers and sons Within UMNO, Mukhriz Mahathir broke ranks with the Pemuda leadership to support his father. ‘KJ’, however, has not broken his silence, at least not in public, to defend his father-in-law. A rumour circulated that ‘September 2’ – the day in 1998 when Anwar was sacked – would return on 19 June. This time UMNO’s Supreme Council would expel Mahathir from the party. When that didn’t happen, the spin was Abdullah couldn’t pull it off, at least not yet.
Resourceful as ever, Mahathir discovered the utility of civil society’s limited instruments of expression. His statements and his allies’ commentaries were posted on websites and blogs. He gave a characteristically long and candid interview to Malaysiakini. He held a ‘dialogue with NGOs’ on 24 June. The dialogue was arranged by Malaysia Today and attended, among others, by some opposition figures. For ‘sleeping with the enemy’ thus, as the New Straits Times put it, Mahathir was jeered by Minister (PM’s Department) Nazri Aziz: if he was jantan, Mahathir should leave UMNO! Naturally Mahathir wouldn’t leave UMNO which he’d joined before ‘hatchet man’ Nazri was born.
Silence! Even as Mahathir’s manhood was challenged while the integrity of others was assailed, Abdullah stayed aloof. He maintained what Musa lauded as an ‘elegant silence’. Really, can Pak Lah’s silence be elegant? In a political system where the leader habitually has the last word on everything, for how long can he rely on his ministers to shield him from replying directly to Mahathir?
Let’s call a spat a spat. Melodrama, which Abdullah dampened with his anodyne talk of civilization and governance, has returned to Malaysian politics with a vengeance. Not since Anwar’s sacking has there been as tense an affair as this ‘tiff’ (to use Kalimullah’s language) between the Predecessor and his Successor.
However, ‘open war’ (Nazri’s term for a counter-attack against Mahathir) may not be an exaggeration for a tiff that may have become too deadly to produce a win-win situation.
How have the mighty fallen out so? Who's selling what?
Mahathir claimed he only wanted clear and truthful answers to questions regarding Proton, the half-bridge and Putrajaya. Each, however, was a complicated matter. First, Proton dragged in the Approved Permits, the sale of its subsidiary, MV Augusta, and the replacement of Tengku Mahaleel Tengku Ariff as Managing Director. The APs ate into Proton’s market share. MV Augusta was sold for one Euro although it was bought for 70 million Euros (RM315 million). Under Tengku Mahaleel, Proton had evidently been a business success.
The government’s replies were: the AP issue was already clarified last year; selling MV Augusta rid Proton of a losing, debt-ridden, motorcycle company marginal to automobile manufacturing; and Proton’s Board had a right not to renew Tengku Mahaleel’s appointment. At any rate, there was a new National Automobile Policy. Over sea to sky Second, the half-bridge was suspended between Johor’s sand and Malaysia’s airspace, not to say remote from ‘Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore’. Mahathir wouldn’t accept that Malaysia had to abandon the crooked half-bridge because Singapore wouldn’t cooperate to build a straight full bridge. He said he’d been assured days before the government’s final decision that the bridge construction would proceed.
The government’s answers were: Singapore wouldn’t cooperate unless it was sold sand and allowed to use Malaysian airspace. Since ‘the people’ were opposed to the sand and airspace deal, it made neither legal nor financial sense to proceed with the half-bridge. Then Mahathir charged that the sand-space ‘sweetener’ was offered to, not originally demanded by, Singapore. Selling the sand – which Johor protested – had become selling national sovereignty. Mahligai revisited
Third, the halt to further construction in Putrajaya cast an aspersion on Mahathir’s fiscal management. More than the TwinTowers or KLIA, Putrajaya – derided as mahligai by Reformasi dissidents – symbolised Mahathir’s readiness to ‘spend and spend’ on ‘mega projects’. Hence, it had long been hinted, Abdullah had to reduce the budget deficit and watch his own spending. He wanted to focus on the Ninth Malaysia Plan, not ‘tax, spend and build’ if that left a huge burden on the future.
But Mahathir denied that state funds were low. Petronas made record profits. The Employees’ Provident Fund had lots of money. The national reserves were piling up. How could money not be available? Why shouldn’t it be spent? Without state expenditure, how could there be multipliers and benefits to the economy? He despaired with a certain ‘Malay attitude towards money’. Money wasn’t just something lighter than a sack of padi to be carried about for barter. Money is for making more money!
Personalities and more Those have become highly emotional disagreements. They merge with other complications.
Mahathir’s not suffering a ‘post-PM syndrome’ as if his judgments and commitments are ruled by nostalgia. Some may admire Abdullah’s ‘sounds of silence’. Others hear grating moans and groans issuing from power shifts that have occurred at the highest levels of policy planning and decision-making. Of course, UMNO’s chronic infighting has always been coloured by personalities and styles but other matters have always been critical.
In 1987–88, Team A and Team B fought over ‘holding NEP in abeyance’, Malaysia Inc., privatization and the dislocation of the civil service. In 1997–98, Anwar’s fate was foreshadowed by behind-the-scenes battles over financial policies and the tools of crisis management.
What, then, is the present fight about? Imitations and appearances
One clue comes from what Mahathir stands for, what he’s always stood for. At first glance, it’s puzzling why there should be a Mahathir-Abdullah spat, least of all over basic policy differences. One might think Abdullah’s furiously de-Mahathirising.
Isn’t that a mirage, though? Isn’t Abdullah in fact imitating Mahathir? Abdullah’s initiatives for better governance and ‘GLC Transformation’ were anticipated by Mahathir’s bureaucratic reforms and taming of the state-owned enterprises of the 1980s. The ideological roots of Islam hadhari may be traced to ‘the assimilation of Islamic values’. Indeed, Abdullah was responsible for implementing Mahathir’s Islamization policies until Anwar joined the government.
And, truly, where would Abdullah’s ‘towering personalities’ come from if not Mahathir’s Melayu Baru?
Anwar Ibrahim, who isn’t caught between Mahathir and Abdullah, correctly remarked that Mahathir wasn’t pursuing a ‘reform agenda’. Mahathir was only adamant that the projects decided by his Cabinet shouldn’t be terminated by this Cabinet.
Even so, that’s not to say Mahathir’s agenda was merely personal. It was and it wasn’t. My way or no way
Abdullah’s ‘reform initiatives’ have been limited to urging better performances from the managers of the GLCs and improving the civil service and liberalizing certain sectors of the economy. Most people suspect he has no firmer vision to offer. In contrast, Mahathir’s policies girded a crucial project, once called Malaysia Inc., later named Vision 2020. It was a project inspired by a deep economic nationalism that drove his entire political career. He devotedly pursued it for 22 years as Prime Minister.
What do a weakened national car, an abandoned bridge and a diminished administrative capital signify? They are the brick-and-mortar symptoms of the demolition of that nationalist project. They are evidence of the dismantling of the one legacy for which Mahathir might want to be remembered. It’s one thing for Abdullah to express a general commitment to Vision 2020. It’s something altogether different when, in the name of better governance, liberalization or globalization, he unravels Mahathir’s project. To defend that project, Mahathir had risked everything fighting Team B in 1987–90, and sacking Anwar and imposing capital controls in 1998.
To that degree, he’d be enraged at a National Automobile Policy that wouldn’t protect Proton and a Free Trade Agreement with Japan that bartered our vegetables for their cars! Has this not become a ‘ country which has no guts’? And what dire trade-offs will result from the negotiations over an FTA with USA? Tiers of fights Believing there’s a campaign to reverse his policies, terminate agreed projects and rubbish his reputation, Mahathir might not stop short of ‘disuniting UMNO’ en route to lubang cacing (‘the source’). But can he win an ‘open war’? What can his prestige or reputation or charisma, each dented by previous crises, accomplish without the powers of incumbency and the instruments of rule?
Much, however, depends on whether or how the Big Spat coincides with other tensions and divisions ever present in UMNO crises. For instance, Mahathir said he wasn’t concerned with contracts and who got them. There were wrong things and wrong directions – and he wouldn’t be Mahathir if he didn’t ‘stick his neck out’ to set them right. Yet, the talk in KL, cyberspace and beyond is about how ‘KJ and his Oxbridge boys and their consultancies’ have monopolized policy planning and taken control of projects and contracts. That raises hopes or fears among different corporate interests and their political allies. After all, the economy, while growing, isn’t booming, and the 9MP projects are about to be awarded.
Rising sons There is envious talk that KJ’s political ambition goes way beyond putting together a football team. UMNO people look at Abdullah’s menantu (in-law) and think he’s rising too rapidly, rather like Mahathir’s protégé (Anwar) in the early 1980s.
Within UMNO are the sons of former Prime Ministers – Najib Tun Razak, Hishamuddin Hussein Onn and Mirzhan Mahathir – and older claimants to power. Mahathir’s openly derided the ‘5th Floor’ (Prime Minister’s Office) for operating at the behest of the ‘4th Floor’ where KJ’s Oxbridge-trained ‘special officers’ are located. Some, like Nazri and Hishamuddin, come to KJ’s defence. They sneer at insinuations of his boundless influence. Others are quiet, and no one knows what they think.
There’s also plentiful speculation that certain corporate manoeuvres profit ‘new cronies’ while the termination of specific projects harmed ‘former cronies’. Given the close links between business and politics, different teams of business and political figures would have jostled for position and favours ever since Mahathir stepped down.
No permanent friends Sometimes an unnamed ‘third party’ is said to be manipulating this clash between ‘No. 1’ and ‘Ex-No. 1’. There being no end to the creativity of Malaysian rumour-mongers, it’s even said that Anwar, with his law suits, will have to be factored in any all-out war. Right now there are many things we don’t know. But if this tiff descends into an ‘open war’, UMNO politics will head for turmoil, perhaps of the order of April 1987 or September 1998.
By next year, we’d know the political alignments within UMNO and the government better … unless UMNO postpones the party election scheduled for 2007. In any case UMNO has again reached a point where one values friends to the degree that they are the enemies of enemies.