Sticky succession for UMNO members?

Of late, the voices on the ground are unhappy. Anywhere, the ordinary man on the street is talking about increasing in cost of living and prices of goods, lesser opportunities for the many and amongst those who are political savvy; they talk about the leadership of the Government.

They bicker about so many issues and argue from so many angles. The legal, moral, ethical, political, politically-correct, politically incorrect, et al. The complaints are endless. They repeat the same old issues. The same issues former Premier Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad laid it out on the table when he met Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi two days before Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, last year.

Some internet savvy man on the street seems to have more to say about this. Obviously, they have more stories to ramble about. They discuss the intricate details that have been exposed.

The leadership of the Malaysian Government is very much the leadership of UMNO, the most senior partner in the 14 party coalition Government, which has ruled continuously since the first general elections in 1955. This round, it seems UMNO is the strongest ever. With 110 representatives out of 199 BN seats in the 219 seat Dewan Rakyat, for the first time, UMNO is actually able to from a Government, without the coalition partners.

UMNO President is the current Prime Minister. So many issues about him, his family and his administration that the common man talks about. The Scenic Bridge, ECM Libra – Avenue merger, Lock-up-naked-ear-squat episode, Scomi, “Oil for food”, Islam Hadhari, MAS Rationalisation, petrol price and tariff gone up, toll charges increased, holidays and trips abroad; the list is endless! The latest rumour is about him remarrying. Some liked the idea, some hated it. Many don’t even care.

Man on the street also talk about his family members nose themselves in Government affairs. His son, an upcoming business personality, his daughter, somewhat an upcoming name in the KL socialite scene and his son in law, also an important party official with the most to be talked about.

When he was elevated to the Deputy Prime Minister seat in January 1999, almost the majority was so bullish. His “Mr. Clean” image is the impression of many, although some thought he was just a mediocre leader. The same image also helped him, who took over the helm of the Federal Government, UMNO and Barisan Nasional on 31 October 2003, to win the thunderous landslide 12th General Elections on 21 March 2004.

So, theoretically, let’s say every single accusations about the Prime Minister and UMNO President Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is spot on and he is now detrimental to the leadership of Malaysia and UMNO. What options are left?

Like it or not, UMNO members can only make their decision about the party leadership every three years. Even that is through the delegates which represented 191 Divisions all over Malaysia. Last year, UMNO Supreme Council (SC) decided that the current office bearer period is being extended by another 18 months. It means, when the current term ends August 2007, it can be extended till April 2009.

Change Government at the next polls!”, many heard being said. Theoretically, of course. Practically, it’s almost impossible. BN controls 199 out of the 219 seats in the Dewan Rakyat. Current Opposition is not formidable enough to wrest the power from BN. The best PAS position had ever been was in the 11th General Elections, November 1999. PAS managed to wrest only 27 seats and PKN managed to get 5. That is undoubtedly the emotional affections of the Malay sympathy for Anwar Ibrahim and somewhat fury against Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. The best DAP ever got was in 1986. They managed to gain 24 seats in the times where so much fiasco in the many MCA promoted co-operatives and complex MCA internal leadership issues.

Many political analysts believe with the current 20 seats Opposition, at best, the can only do 55-60, in the next General Elections. 25-30 PAS, 5 PKR, 25-30 DAP, tops!

The next best thing available is for the UMNO members themselves to unorthodoxly demand a special delegates sitting. They can demand that the issue about the conspiracy to stop Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at Kubang Pasu Division’s meet last 9 Sept 2006, also presented by Malaysia Today’s “Dollahgate”, challenged and heard. Even till today, the Discplinary Board still have not concluded their findings on the five reports on the same 9 Sept issue.

So what if PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is shown the door and actually left? What’s next? Deputy UMNO President and Deputy Prime Minister Mohd. Najib Tun Razak takes over the Premiership?

That’s seems to be obvious solutions. That seems to be the traditional solution, when the UMNO President steps down, the Deputy President ascends. However, is Najib, as is, acceptable to the majority Malaysian, especially UMNO members?


Not quite, some will say. If people bickered about PM Abdullah and his personal issues cropping into his public capacity, so does Najib. By popular notion, especially amongst the educated lot and internet savvy, Najib is also bogged with personal issues, very much similar to those talked about pertaining to PM Abdullah.

Then there are other issues. There is much talked about the Mongolian model murder case, Altantuya Shaaribuu. The case has not gone to trial yet. However, one of the suspects charged was closely linked to Najib. Even when Najib is wholesomely can be distinguishably distance from the case, through the trial process or otherwise and/or the suspect has been freed by a court of law, the perception about Najib and the case still lingers. In politics, “perception” is the one single most important element.

So the baton is passed down the line. The leadership now would be looked amongst the three UMNO Vice Presidents. Tan Sri Mohd. Isa Samad, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Dato’ Wira Mohd. Ali Rustam. The problem is that Tan Sri Mohd. Isa Samad is suspended and many people said, Dato’ Ali Rustam is physically unwell. That only leaves the option to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin.

Muhyiddin is also a leader whose father was a respectable religious teacher. His track record of privatizing too many facilities all over Johor Bahru in the late 80s and booming early 90s didn’t really go well with the Johor people, especially 500,000 of the 3.2 million UMNO comes from the State.

Then the search has to go down further, between the Wanita, Youth and Puteri UMNO Heads. Wanita UMNO Head to ascend the Presidentship? Seriously? Not quite. Dato’ Seri Rafidah A Aziz is a very seasoned politician. Infact she has been in Government, uninterrupted, much longer than the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. Her recent AP and National Automobile Policy quango didn’t actually go well with the regular UMNO delegates. So is her arrogance persona. UMNO is too sexist and not ready for a woman President. At least, not soon enough.

Nothing can see said about the Puteri UMNO Head. She’s too untested, never been a representative, nor the Government. She’s too neglible in this analysis.

Lastly, we are left with Dato’ Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein. Son of a late UMNO President, grandson of the founder. However, many feel that he is not ready yet, to ascend to the next level, let alone the Presidency. No doubt he is hardworking and of course he is being given a very tough Ministry to be tested upon. Managing the resources which include 300,000 plus teachers over almost ten thousand school is definitely complex and horrendous. So many lives affected. The recent cancellation of the textbook program will not really go well with Hisham’s track record.

So there you have it. Not easy to unseat the Prime Minister a.k.a. an UMNO President. Even if it can be done, UMNO as the backbone of the 14 party BN coalition Government, it self has complicated leadership issues need to be resolved.


Published in: on March 4, 2007 at 20:05  Comments (7)