Posted: 23 Dec 2012 09:00 AM PST
Raised eyebrows, annoyance, snorts and sniggers. Those were among the most common responses to a plan by Umno President and Barisan Nasional chairman Najib Razak to seek the help of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission to vet the ruling coalition's candidates for the forthcoming 13th General Election.
To make it worse, there has been nothing but an ominous silence to this proposal from the most powerful man in Umno today, Najib’s former boss and ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad, and with good reasons too.
Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz, is unlikely to make the grade given the father's reported US$ 44 billion in assets and the flight of US$ 200 billion in dirty money last year. In fact, few if any of the top leaders in Umno would be able to make the grade, with the entire plan already ridiculed by the public and tagged as an eye-wash to curry favor in a most childish way with voters.
Trying to scare the Devil or negotiating better exit terms
What is Najib trying to do? As far as the general perception goes, Najib along with Mahathir should to be among the first to be axed given the former’s humongous Scorpene corruption and Altantuya Shaariibuu murder scandals. Can the 59-year-old Najib really be so fatuous as to believe that by roping in the MACC, whose own integrity is in doubt, it will make things right with voters?
Come on, voters are already sick and tired of the Umno-BN’s never-ending story of bribery and plundering of the national coffers. So what is Najib after? Is he trying to warn Mahathir and his own deputy, the also corruption-tainted Muhyiddin Yassin, to back off? Red-hot on the Umno grapevine is talk that Mahathir and Muhyiddin have struck a deal to push out Najib before GE13. Is Najib trying to signal that he won’t be giving up so easily and if he has to, he will fight back?
Those who are watching the developments in Umno will know soon enough. However, given the strength of Mahathir’s sinister character and Najib’s weak indecisivness, few believe Najib can do much to scare Mahathir. That would be like a kitten trying to take on a wolf.
At the most, it might buy the PM and his wife Rosmah Mansor a few more months in power, allowing them to make a more advantageous and graceful exit. Instead of relinquishing the premiership before GE13 as Mahathir and Muhyiddin are said to have demanded, Najib might get to lead Umno-BN into GE13 before stepping down as Umno president at the party’s internal election due to be held later in 2013.
Mahathir conducted a purge of Umno, BN candidates
Mahathir is not an easy man to cross and few have survived doing so. His most successful opponent remains his chief thorn in the flesh – Anwar Ibrahim. Not Najib. For now until GE13, Mahathir may continue to say good things about Najib but this can change anytime. Author Barry Wain did not call Mahathir a maverick for nothing. Mahathir is indeed the power behind the throne and all eyes are now on the 87-year-old as he twists and turns to keep his grip on Umno and protect his family and their enormous wealth.
Upon assuming power in 1981, Mahathir decided, unilaterally, that his Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah (Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy) administration would not field undeserving candidates. Mahathir was judge, jury, and hangman in this case. No MACC or ACA for him! The candidates knew it had nothing to do with their being ‘undeserving’ but that this was his way of purging BN of candidates put up by his predecessors and bringing in his own faction members.
Many Umno and BN members who held party posts were not fielded as candidates in the General Election (GE) simply because they weren't with him or he simply didn't like their faces. To add insult to injury, they weren't compensated with other government posts either because his aim was to finish them off politically and bury them for good. Yet, his losing candidates in party elections were not only fielded as GE candidates but were rewarded with other government positions when they lost at the party and GE levels.
Ruthless, mean, vicious, vindictive – these are all words used to describe Mahathir, and another strongman politician in Malaysia – Taib Mahmud of Sarawak.
Najib is no better than this duo. He and Rosmah are just as controversial and unpopular. But for his own self-preservation, Najib should know why he must get Mahathir and Company out of the 13th GE.
Mahathir's regime was anything but clean, efficient and trustworthy as evident in, among others, Barry Wain's book, "Malaysian Maverick – Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times." According Wain’s research, during Mahathir’s administration US$ 100billion was lost from the Malaysian treasury.
Mahathir stabbed Hussein Onn in the back and betrayed Razak
If Malaysia’s third prime minister Hussein Onn, who was also Najib's uncle, had not selected Mahathir as his Deputy Prime Minister, Malaysia would have had a different history. Hussein erroneously thought that since Mahathir was a lone ranger in politics and did not have any grassroots support, he would not be a challenge to him. Mahathir, however, being the wily Keralan that he was, managed to outmaneuver Hussein out of office in what's seen today as virtually a coup d'etat.
This was how Mahathir repaid Abdul Razak, Najib's father and Hussein's brother-in-law, who brought him back to Umno after having being sacked by Tunku Abdul Rahman for being one of the three arch villains behind the May 13 race riots. The other two arch villains were Razak himself and then Selangor Menteri Besar Harun Idris who prevailed on the former to re-admit Mahathir into Umno.
The issue that Mahathir used against Hussein was the allegation that the latter's wife was virtually running Petronas from her house. The Dap mysteriously received, now believed to be from Mahathir, documents in the post on the allegation and on Exxon allegedly stealing Malaysian oil on the high seas unknown to Petronas. Then Dap secretary-general Lim Kit Siang ended up in Court as a result of the documents as Exxon fought back with a legal suit.
The story, as it goes further, is that Mahathir had Hussein's office completely cleared out when the Prime Minister was subsequently in London for medical attention.
He also reportedly spread rumours, in hinting at the allegations on Petronas/Exxon, that Hussein had a "terrible heart condition" and would be stepping down as Prime Minister upon his return "for health reasons". Mahathir's regime was a time of great rumour-mongering and all of which subsequently turned out to be true since they originated from the man himself.
It was Dap, albeit inadvertently, who helped put Mahathir in the Prime Minister's chair.
Now, Najib has the opportunity to settle scores on behalf of Hussein, his father and Tunku and embark on a real purge of Umno and BN members he shouldn't field as candidates. But will he rise to the occassion or is the latest MACC ploy just to negotiate better exit terms for himself and Rosmah?
If Najib had the guts …
But if Najib could summon up the courage to launch a fight-back, then his primary purpose of bringing in MACC would be to eliminate those who are not in his camp.
This would include Muhyiddin, who is in cahoots with Mahathir to undermine him. However, MACC or no MACC, it would be difficult for Najib to drop Muhyiddin and get away with it. He would need a more complex plot and there is no enough time to get one going. However, Najib can get poetic justice by fielding only Muhyiddin from the latter's and Mahathir's camp.
It would not be a good idea for Najib to pack the list of BN candidates with only his people. He should include some from the Tunku, Hussein, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Musa Hitam and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah camps as well. This is the time for them to make a comeback and help neutralise Mahathir who never really had any grassroots support in Umno.
Mahathir survived by first pitting Musa Hitam and Tengku Razaleigh against each other not once but twice. He himself was returned unopposed. This is a feat he stage-managed. If either Musa or Razaleigh had taken on Mahathir for the Umno Presidency then, they could have beaten him.
Mahathir used everyone and betrayed them
Mahathir, having used Musa to neutralize Razaleigh – hinting that Razaleigh won't be Deputy Prime Minister if he won — subsequently spread rumours that the Mahathir-Musa 2M Administration would henceforth be the Mahathir Mohamad 2M Administration. Musa resigned and played into Mahathir's hands.
Mahathir then brought in veteran Ghaffar Baba, a strong grassroots man who had the backing of Malay teachers who then formed the bulk of the Umno membership, as his Deputy Prime Minister. It was Ghaffar who helped to pull in votes for Mahathir as Umno president in the face of a combined assault by Razaleigh and Musa for the Presidency and Deputy Presidency. Even then Mahathir would not have made it had he not received the backing of votes from 30 illegal branches created by him.
As history has recorded, Mahathir used Anwar Ibrahim to ‘kill’ Ghaffar Baba. Subsequently, he had Anwar incarcerated on trumped-up sodomy charges because the latter realised that the former was a grave danger to Umno, the Malays and the country.
Mahathir's past will catch up with him in the present to haunt his future. It should be evident when Najib announces the list of Umno and BN candidates for the 13th GE and the Mahathir-Muhyiddin camps find they have been left out in the cold.
Even if Najib disappoints, even if he chickens out and submits to the older man’s will in exchange for more largesse, time has is running out. And it’s not just for Mahathir but for the bad brand name that Umno has become thanks to selfish leaders who through the decades placed their vested interests way ahead of the party’s.
It's highly unlikely that anyone dropped from the Mahathir and Muhyiddin camps would be fielded by Pakatan Rakyat, led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. If at all, Pakatan should only consider accepting candidates from the Tunku, Hussein, Badawi, Musa Hitam, Razaleigh and Najib camps who had expected to be fielded by BN but were not. The doors are fast closing even on this group. Brimming with young talent, Pakatan might not have space!
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