|Enjoyng good "gebang" during KKA|
Monday, April 06, 2015
Crystal-balling Malaysian Politics post-Mohd Najib
A Kadir Jasin
UPDATE, April 7 – THE Kedai Kopi Assembly (KKA) convened at Ratha Raub Restaurant in Damansara Utama this morning for roti canai and claypot ikan tenggiri curry.
Present were the usual gang (bloggers, journalists and a Eurasian lawyer). Blogger OutSyed the BOX was not present as he is cruising the Mediterranean.
Special invitees were Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Datuk Seri) Shahidan Kassim, PAS MP for Pokok Sena Mahfuz Omar, the PKR MP for Penampang Darell Leiking and PAS State Assemblyman for Batu Buruk Dr Syed Azman Ahmad Nawawi. An invite from DAP, Liew Chin Tong (Kluang MP) couldn’t make it as he is in Australia meeting Malaysian communities there.
More pictures at APANAMA.
IF the Prime Minister, (Datuk Seri) Mohd Najib Abdul Razak resigns or is replaced, who is the most suitable and most likely to succeed him and what will happen to Malaysian politics?
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These are among the many questions that have to be asked and answered.
But before that we will have to determine whether he survives the assault on him from within and outside Umno.
To begin with, doing away with Mohd Najib is not going to be easy. Certainly not as easy as forcing out (Tun) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2009.
In the wider context, we Malaysians could very well be approaching the hell gate of weak government. Both the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) have their own sets of issues to be able to offer a credible choice at the polls.
For now, the more likely scenario is Mohd Najib survives as Prime Minister, Umno President and BN Chairman but the BN could lose the next general election. The redrawing of election boundaries could be to the advantage of the BN in the rural areas but may no be enough to offset voters’ rebellion.
To help us find answers to the above questions, let us consider the following:
1. Mohd Najib isn’t Abdullah. Showing Pak Lah the door in 2009 was a lot easier. He did not have as many apple polishers and jemuan (to borrow Mohd Najib’s own words when opening Kedah Umno Convention on March 14) as the incumbent.
2. Pak Lah did not have an ambitious wife. He had health issues. His did not have a support base as strong as Mohd Najib. Umno divisional, state and federal leaders were then less hypocritical and there was still some “perjuangan” (struggle) left.
3. Mohd Najib might not have played a key role in forcing Pak Lah to resign. But he must have learned a few lessons to avoid Pak Lah’s pitfalls. Mohd Najib has an ambitious determined wife who would want him to stay at all costs. On the other hand, Pak Lah’s wife, (Tun) Jeanne, is not ambitious woman and it was said that she urged him to resign.
4. Pak Lah did not have too many people depending on him for favours – political, business and professional. Members of his kitchen cabinet numbered less than 10. Mohd Najib has hundreds. He built his influenced by dispensing favours to as many people as possible. He runs the biggest Prime Minister’s Office in history and controls the party chiefs with the gifts of golden eggs (to borrow the expression of the Umno Secretary General Tenkgu aka Teuku Adnan Mansor) and surrounded himself with quasi government agencies which are not under the control of the Public Services Department.
5. He may not be liked and loved by Dr Mahathir, Umno veterans and bloggers, but he is loved by the upper echelon of the business community. The Bumiputera businessmen get contracts and blessings from him. The Chinese also get contracts from the government while at the same time they take advantage of marketplace uncertainties to buy back their shares, doubles their profits and transfer their wealth abroad. The Indian tycoons too benefited by being close to him and his household. They enjoy preferential loans and plump business deals, contracts and concessions. One of them – T. Ananda Krishnan – went a step further by providing loans to the government to bail out the ailing 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
6. Assuming that there is a hidden widespread dissatisfaction among Umno leaders and this would soon boil over and topples Mohd Najib, who would then take over?
7. (Tan Sri) Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin is the natural choice. He is the Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Umno President.
8. For months the expectation has been that he will lead the charge. But he has been blowing hot and cold, and many observers think that he would not mount an open challenge. He has been speaking out against 1MDB but unless he states his stand openly, Umno is not likely to rally behind him to shoo Mohd Najib away from Putrajaya. Like the legendary Jebat he risks being done in by Mohd Najib’s "Hang Tuahs".
9. All said and done, he is still the best person to take over. He stands a good chance of consolidating Umno and bringing back the support of the Malays. He hasn’t been embroiled in a major controversy of the proportion of 1MDB, his wife is likeable and his children are rarely seen or heard of. The only one the public knows is Najwa Mahiaddin because she is a singer and songwriter. An added advantage is the fact that he comes of a religious Muar family.
10. But he may not be so dearly loved by the non-Malays because he openly acknowledged that he is Malay first and Malaysian second in relation to Mohd Najib 1Malaysia branding. So he may not get full backing from the non-Malay parties of the BN, but he can count on the support of the anak negeri parties in Sarawak.
11. If Umno becomes stronger in the post-Mohd Najib era, the BN stands a better chance of remaining in power after the next general election three to four years from now.
12. The PR would lose its silver bullet if Mohd Najib resigns. He is its biggest asset. Things would be worse for the opposition if Muhyiddin succeeds in improving the affairs of the state. 1MDB will remain a major systemic risk but the new Prime Minister stands a better chance of sorting it out because he is not directly involved in creating the mess.
13. The PR can hope to build upon its sterling 2013 performance only if it thinks and acts beyond (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim, and play down ideological differences among member parties and concentrate on issues that they can agree on, especially the economy.
14. What the PR has that the BN does not is the youthfulness of leadership. This is its advantage. It should build on this instead of being caught in the past. Veteran PR leaders should pull back a little and allow the younger ones to shine.
15, As I have told many PR leaders, if they really want to rule, they must have a comprehensive set of economic policies, plans and programmes. They cannot hope to win power by merely taking advantage of the BN’s weaknesses. They must develop their own strength.
16. If they fail to do so, they will disappoint their legion of young multi-racial supporters and, by default, will give back to the BN the advantage it lost during the 2013 GE.
- A KADIR JASIN
- I was born in 1947 in Kedah. I came from a rice farming family. I have been a journalist since 1969. I am the Editor-in-Chief of magazine publishing company, Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd. I was Group Editor NST Sdn Bhd and Group Editor-in-Chief of NSTP Bhd between 1988 and 2000. I write fortnightly column “Other Thots” in the Malaysian Business magazine, Kunta Kinte Original in Berita Harian and A Kadir Jasin Bercerita in Dewan Masyarakat. Books: Biar Putih Tulang (1998), Other Thots – Opinions & Observations 1992-2001 (2001), The Wings of an Eagle (2003), Mencari Dugalia Huso (2006), Damned That Thots (2006), Blogger (2006), PRU 2008-Rakyat Sahut Cabaran (2008), Komedi & Tragedi-Latest in Contemporary Malaysian Politics (2009) and Membangun Bangsa dengan Pena (2009).