Thursday, March 15, 2007

Najib days are numbered, that soon?


That’s the topic of Raja Petra’s latest article, posted two days ago in his blog, Malaysa-Today.net (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad “accidently” calls it ‘Malaysia.com’, at Johor Bahru on Feb 10th!). Having to consider many issues put forth, somehow it seems convenient.

Even if the Altantuya Shaaribuu murder trial of Razak Baginda, CI Azilah and L/Cpl Sirul Azhar indirectly implicates the Deputy Prime Minister, can and will the Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi “replace” (in order words, “terminate” or grosser, “sack”) Dato’ Seri Mohamed Najib Tun Razak with another UMNO politician?

It would not be that easy. Too many considerations, at stake.

First of all, Najib Razak has strong Divisional leadership ties. He made a concerted effort to improve himself amongst the Divisional level, especially through structured PR job since his almost defeat at his family’s traditional constituency, Pekan, November 1999 elections.

Secondly, Najib is more exposed and experienced in UMNO and Government, compare to his nearest threat (at this point of time, UMNO Vice President and Minister of Agriculture, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin). Najib had been in Government, continuously since 1978 as compared to Muhyiddin, 1983. Najib also has been in more UMNO positions, which include UMNO Youth Vice Head (1984-1987), UMNO Youth Head (1987-1993) and UMNO Vice President continuously (1993-2004). Muhyiddin never made it past Exco at UMNO Youth level and as an UMNO Vice President, he held from 1993-6 and 2000 - present. Like Abdullah once, Muhyiddin experienced an interregnum, as an UMNO Vice President.

Therefore, Najib’s reach in UMNO middle management (Divisional leadership) is actually better than any of the current UMNO Vice Presidents.


Thirdly, Najib is without doubt more popular in UMNO compared to Muhyiddin. For the simple reason, Najib is his father’s son, the Mighty late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein. That actually goes a long way in UMNO (without saying!). Najib also is a much better orator than the shy Muhyiddin, both in charisma and skill and contents.

That is not anyone’s surprise, after understanding their different background. Najib had ‘public school’ and Univeristy of Nottigham exposure as compared to Muhyiddin’s Muar High School and University of Malaya. Najib is also groomed as a politician and leader, as early as 22 plus years old, becoming the youngest MP in history when he stood uncontested in Pekan 1976, when his father died. Muhyiddin is a son of respected religious school headmaster and he grew up with too many siblings in a modest setting. Najib, is in the true sense of the expression, “A leader is born AND made”.

Fourthly, Najib as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence is simply too valuable for PM Abdullah’s administration, at this point of time. At the moment, Najib chairs 31 Cabinet Committees of various sorts and responsibilities. So many decisions are undertaken and decided by him. He is also on the top of a lot the issues which he oversees, unlike his Boss. For example, the issues and policy matters in MINDEF are at his fingertips. His knowledge on military policies, strategies, tactics, technology, development and diplomacy related are actually impeccable. One might say, as if he is a career military man. He is also more known in the international scene, compared to Muhyiddin.

Fifthly, there is the factor of ‘family’ influence within the UMNO’s upper echelon. Najib hails from a very prominent family within UMNO as his father was once a long time UMNO Deputy President and later a very successful UMNO President. Currently, his two cousins hold prominent positions and influence in UMNO, namely Dato’ Seri Hishamuddin Hussein, UMNO Youth Head and the highly influential grassroot Education Minister and Dato’ Shahrir Samad, the highly controversial Johor Bahru MP. His family heritage is also earns a ‘position’ within the two most influential Malay Ruler in UMNO today, the Sultan of Pahang and Sultan of Johor. Najib’s, Hisham’s and Shahrir’s late grandfather, Tan Sri Mohamed Noah “Noah Beirut” Omar, a former Home Minister and later Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, is a very much respected UMNO man. UMNO people actually talk about these things.

The most important fact to be considered that the Prime Minister and UMNO President Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is not actually an ‘action oriented’ man. He is not known to make decisive conviction and landmark judgment call, unlike his predecessor. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dare to take the risk and face the consequences of making a judgment call like sacking his Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy UMNO President and apparent heir Anwar Ibrahim, even taking on much unacceptable justification to the Malays at large. We are talking about Dr Mahathir dare facing the wrath of the Malay race with ‘morality’ excuse of sacking Anwar for the infamous sodomy case.

Not many would even dare to think and imagine how Abdullah would stand up and face the wrath of the UMNO member at large if ever Najib needs to be sacked, even with the ’strong implication’ to Razak Baginda’s murder trial. The former simply don’t have the personality and right aptitude; neither the resilience nor charisma to face a tsunami force of UMNO resistance.

Therefore, to unseat Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak is actually a very big deal, a venture hardly anyone in the Prime Minister’s camp has the courage and dared enough to undertake, at this point of time. It takes a lot more effort than just RM 3 million per Division ‘gross bribe’ and time to invest on ‘soft campaign’, to make this well planned exit plan for Najib, to work.

So, at this point of time, maybe Najib should just focus in keeping up the pace of his good work, earn more respect and loyalty of mid-level UMNO leadership, maintain PR and popularity and avoid getting into collision with the Prime Minister’s camp.

That should keep his head above water, long enough until a worthy opponent of Khairy Jamaluddin is developed and ready to take on, the ’prodigal son’. By then, the takes of the game will be different.



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