Thursday, April 9, 2009

Minister Tormentor of Malaysia

Minister Tormentor of Malaysia
9 Apr, 2009

Would Najib dare offer the new Umno Youth Leader, Khairy Jamaluddin, a Cabinet post? Or would the Cabinet post go to Mukhriz Mahathir instead? By convention, Khairy, the winner, should get that post instead of Mukhriz, the loser. But Tun Dr Mahathir is not one to follow convention. He is one who breaks from tradition.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Dr M denies deal with Najib

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday denied making any deals with Datuk Seri Najib Razak to appoint his son Datuk Mukhriz as a minister. Dr Mahathir said it was entirely up to the prime minister to name his cabinet.

He spoke to reporters after launching an autobiography by the first director-general of the Malaysian Cocoa Board, Datuk Hashim Abdul Wahab, In Search of Happiness.

Dr Mahathir said Najib needed to have a corruption-free cabinet to avoid a Barisan Nasional loss in the next general election. He said Najib had a lot to do to change the mindset of the people who are now more inclined towards the opposition.

On BN's by-election loss in Bukit Selambau, Dr Mahathir said it was not caused by non-Malay votes, as the majority of voters comprised Malays. "There are a lot of Malays who are not happy with the government as well, not just the non-Malays." -- New Straits Times

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Jika Kerajaan pimpinan UMNO dianggotai ahli dan pemimpin UMNO yang perasuah, rakyat dan juga sebahagian daripada ahli UMNO yang kecewa akan tentukan BN dan UMNO akan kalah juga. Oleh kerana sebab-sebab ini saya berpendapat Najib akan cuba bersihkan parti dan Kerajaan daripada rasuah dan perasuah. Tanda-tanda ini akan diperlihat apabila beliau menubuh Kabinetnya pada 8 April, iaitu esok. Walaupun Abdullah tidak lagi memimpin UMNO, jika ternampak kuasanya keatas UMNO masih ada, saya akan anggap syarat saya tidak dipenuhi. -- Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

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Singapore has its Minister Mentor in the form of ex-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Malaysia has its Minister Tormentor in the form of ex-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. And who better to confirm this than Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who held onto power for a mere five and a half years and then had to relinquish his post to Najib Tun Razak after suffering a rain of torment from the very man who made him Prime Minister.

Walaupun Abdullah tidak lagi memimpin UMNO, jika ternampak kuasanya keatas UMNO masih ada, saya akan anggap syarat saya tidak dipenuhi,” said the Grand Old Man of Malaysian politics in his latest Blog posting.

Yes, Tun Dr Mahathir does not want any remnants or residual of Tun Abdullah Badawi’s era in Najib’s new Cabinet, due to be announced at 3.00pm today. That is his syarat (terms and conditions). And what Tun Dr Mahathir wants, Tun Dr Mahathir gets, as Tun Abdullah Badawi discovered the extremely hard way. Is this what will happen later today when Najib announces his new Cabinet line-up? Or will Najib make the same mistake as his predecessor in not listening to what Tun Dr Mahathir wants?

Make no bones about it. Tun Dr Mahathir is a survivor. He has bounced in and out of Umno many times. And he can continue bouncing in and out of Umno if required to do so. And each time he bounces in and out of Umno he has shaped the Malaysian political scene in the form he wants it to take.

Tun Dr Mahathir was the one who led the charge against the First Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, in the late 1960s. Of course, that resulted in him getting sacked from Umno. But that did not stop him. He just walked over to the opposition and for almost three years he worked with the opposition to force the Tunku’s resignation. Eventually, Umno had to invite him back just to silence him. He was more dangerous outside the party.

That was also exactly what Tun Dr Mahathir did in 2006 when he wanted to force Tun Abdullah Badawi’s resignation. Again, for almost three years, Tun Dr Mahathir worked with the opposition until Tun Abdullah Badawi threw in his resignation last week. Then Tun Dr Mahathir bounced back into Umno, yet again.

Twice in history Tun Dr Mahathir left Umno and worked with the opposition for almost three years. And twice in history Umno begged him to return like the prodigal son that he is just so that he would not damage the party from the outside. And every Prime Minister, except for Tun Abdul Razak who was ‘saved’ by death, found that their careers were in the hands of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Eventually, totally heartbroken and utterly devastated by the May 13 tragedy, the Tunku resigned as Prime Minister and handed the country to Tun Razak. But Tun Razak was fated to rule for just over five years. And that too was the fate of Tun Abdullah Badawi who also ruled for just over five years. But Tun Razak was overtaken by death while Tun Abdullah Badawi was overtaken by events, a political death of sorts if you like.

Tun Razak may not have made Prime Minister if not because of Tun Dr Mahathir. But Tun Razak did not choose Tun Dr Mahathir as his successor as he lay dying in the Harley Street clinic in London in 1976. He chose Tun Hussein Onn with instructions that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was to be his Deputy.

It was Tengku Razaleigh, however, who chose to forgo his turn. Next in line would have been Tun Ghafar Baba. But Tun Ghafar did not have the right academic credentials. So Tun Ghafar was bypassed in favour of Tun Dr Mahathir. Tengku Razaleigh would come into the picture once Tun Dr Mahathir takes over as Prime Minister.

After acting as the catalyst in forcing the Tunku’s resignation just six years earlier, Tun Dr Mahathir, again, became the catalyst in forcing Tun Hussein’s resignation. Of course, by then he was already the number two. So, in the event Tun Hussein resigns or dies, he would automatically take over. And he did take over when Tun Hussein resigned in 1981. But Tengku Razaleigh was not appointed as his number two even though this was the deal agreed upon five years earlier. Tun Dr Mahathir broke away from tradition and decided to allow Umno to choose its number two.

The contest for number two was thrown open. And both Tengku Razaleigh and Musa Hitam staked their claims. Let Umno decide, said Tun Dr Mahathir. But the Grand Old Man of Malaysian politics very cleverly and deviously let it be known that he favoured Musa over Tengku Razaleigh.

And Umno is such. Whomsoever the President backs will surely win. And since the President was backing Musa Hitam, then Musa Hitam it shall be. And Musa Hitam won. Tengku Razaleigh lost. But Tun Dr Mahathir very skilfully allowed Musa to become number two not because he was the better candidate but so that he could keep Tengku Razaleigh in check. Nevertheless, Tun Dr Mahathir allowed Tengku Razaleigh to remain in the Cabinet so that he (Tengku Razaleigh) could, in turn, check Musa.

It was a superb divide and rule strategy that Tun Dr Mahathir played.

Three years later, Tengku Razaleigh, again, made a bid for the number two’s post and, again, lost. But this time it was not two contenders fighting for a vacant post like the first time around. This time it was a bid to topple someone from his post. This infuriated Musa and he wanted Tengku Razaleigh punished. He wanted Tengku Razaleigh sacked from the Cabinet.

But that would just make Musa very powerful and, therefore, a threat to Tun Dr Mahathir. Tun Dr Mahathir needed Tengku Razaleigh around so that he could continue to keep Musa in check. So, Tun Dr Mahathir did not sack Tengku Razaleigh as what Musa wanted. He just demoted Tengku Razaleigh. The Finance Minister was now the Trade Minister. This can be considered a turun pangkat of sorts. And that meant Tengku Razaleigh would still be around to ensure that Musa would not be strong enough to make a bid for the Umno Presidency and, in that same context, a bid for the Premiership of Malaysia.

Tunku Abdul Rahman, Hussein Onn, Musa Hitam, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Ghafar Baba, Anwar Ibrahim, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and many other lesser mortals learned the hard way as to who the Boss is. And the Boss is none other than the Grand Old Man of Malaysian politics, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Would Najib Tun Razak dare forget this? He forgets this at his own peril.

Would Najib dare offer the new Umno Youth Leader, Khairy Jamaluddin, a Cabinet post? Or would the Cabinet post go to Mukhriz Mahathir instead? By convention, Khairy, the winner, should get that post instead of Mukhriz, the loser. But Tun Dr Mahathir is not one to follow convention. He is one who breaks from tradition.

Rosmah Mansor would like to believe that she is the new Boss and that she decides what the Prime Minister does. Well, Khairy Jamaluddin thought so too back in 2003. And yesterday’s Khairy Jamaluddin can easily be today’s Rosmah Mansor. Would Rosmah Mansor also like to be as history as Khairy Jamaluddin?

That is a most interesting question indeed. As the Chinese say, there can be only one tiger on the mountain. And that tiger is Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Rosmah can be the feline that she wants to be. But it would be safer for her if she chose to meow rather than roar like a good little pussy that she is. Okay, maybe not little. But fat cats too must learn how to meow like pussies and not roar like their cousins.

Anyway, we shall talk more about that later on. So stay tuned for the continuation of this story about what goes on in the corridors of power.


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