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In search of a successor (UPDATED with Chinese translation)

Posted: 16 Jun 2013 05:49 PM PDT

Therefore, for all intents and purposes, it was Dr Mahathir who appointed Najib as the Deputy Prime Minister and not Pak Lah who did so. Pak Lah did not 'confirm' Dr Mahathir's announcement until the following day. Pak Lah really had no choice in the matter after Dr Mahathir had publicly 'thanked' him for 'agreeing' to appoint Najib as the Deputy Prime Minister.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

It appears like we will not be seeing a contest for 'number one' and 'number two' this coming Umno general assembly. Of course, this is not the first time this has happened. Since the historic 'Team A' versus 'Team B' tussle of 26 years ago -- when the Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah-Musa Hitam team took on the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad-Ghafar Baba team -- Umno has not tolerated any contest for the top two posts.

This is mainly because of two reasons. Firstly, the 1987 contest split Umno into two and resulted in Umno getting deregistered (followed by the fall of Kelantan in the 1990 general election). Secondly, the President and Deputy President of Umno will become Malaysia's Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister respectively. Hence Umno would not just be choosing its top two party leaders but the top two leaders of the country as well.

No doubt this 'no contest' ruling can be considered as technically illegal because all party posts should be open for contest. But then Umno's 'system' allows for the party's supreme council to make rulings that are final and that cannot be challenged in court or overridden by the Registrar of Societies. Therefore democracy can be suspended for the sake of 'stability'.

This may appear strange and even undemocratic to the uninitiated. However, Malaysia is full of contradictions and these contradictions have been accepted as necessary for the sake of 'peace and stability'. I mean, while the Federal Constitution says that there is freedom of assembly, the police can still arrest you for organising and attending an 'illegal assembly'. And while the Constitution says you cannot be detained without being informed of your crime and that you must be brought before a magistrate or released within 24 hours, you can still be detained without trial and without legal representation for an indefinite period of time.

Many say that Malaysia does not allow freedom of speech or freedom of assembly and so on. I would disagree with that, though. Malaysia does allow freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. It is freedom AFTER speech and freedom AFTER assembly that you do not have. Hence you do have freedom to do what you want to do. It is whether you will still enjoy this freedom after you do it that is the issue.

Anyway, many think that the 'no contest for number one and number two' is aimed at saving Najib Tun Razak. They think that to allow a contest would mean that Najib might be challenged and would possibly be ousted. I have a deep suspicion that this is not about saving Najib but about saving Muhyiddin Yassin.

If there is a contest for number one and number two, two things may happen. One would be that Muhyiddin takes on Najib. Muhyiddin might win or he might lose. However, taking Malay sentiments into consideration where challenging the boss is seen as biadap (insolent), the chance of Muhyiddin losing is stronger than the chance of him winning.

The second scenario would be that no one might challenge Najib but someone might challenge Muhyiddin instead. And if Muhyiddin loses, then Najib would be very secure and unshakable -- as the only alternative for successor, Muhyiddin, would now be out in the cold.

That is a risk they would not like to take. And you cannot say that the number one post is open to challenge while the number two is not. Either both posts are open to challenge or both are not. So better they do not open any of the posts to a challenge, just in case.

Their main worry is not so much about Muhyiddin taking on Najib (in fact, many are hoping he would). If Muhyiddin does take on Najib that would mean the number two post would now be 'vacant' (since Muhyiddin is going for number one) and it would be open season for the number two post.

Let's say Muhyiddin takes on Najib and wins. Najib would now be out and Muhyiddin would become the new Prime Minister. That would mean Malaysia no longer has a Deputy Prime Minister. But who is going to become the new Deputy Prime Minister, one of the three Vice Presidents? Bloody hell, you know who they are, right?

That is the crux of the matter. Who is going to take over as Deputy Prime Minister if Muhyiddin takes over as Prime Minister? That is a thought that is sending shivers down the spine of the behind-the-scenes 'kingmakers'. Hence it is a risk they would not like to take.

They faced this same dilemma when Dr Mahathir handed the reins to Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Pak Lah) on 1st November 2003. For 15 months from mid-2002 Dr Mahathir and Pak Lah hammered out a deal on what will happen once Pak Lah takes over. And one of the terms of this deal was that Najib would be appointed the Deputy Prime Minister.

However, once Pak Lah took over, he dragged his feet and refused to confirm Najib as his Deputy. It was not until Dr Mahathir put a gun to Pak Lah's head that Najib was appointed the Deputy Prime Minister on 7th January 2004 -- more than two months after Pak Lah took over as Prime Minister. 

Pak Lah's choice for Deputy was actually Muhyiddin and not Najib. Najib was Dr Mahathir's choice. But Dr Mahathir shoved Najib down Pak Lah's throat and he (Pak Lah) was powerless to say no mainly because the 'Old Man' publicly announced Najib's appointment even though Pak Lah had not said anything.

Therefore, for all intents and purposes, it was Dr Mahathir who appointed Najib as the Deputy Prime Minister and not Pak Lah who did so. Pak Lah did not 'confirm' Dr Mahathir's announcement until the following day. Pak Lah really had no choice in the matter after Dr Mahathir had publicly 'thanked' him for 'agreeing' to appoint Najib as the Deputy Prime Minister.

That was basically the beginning of the end for Pak Lah. Dr Mahathir realised that the 15 months of 'sorting out the issues' from mid-2002 to 1st November 2003 between him and Pak Lah was a deal gone sour. After that Pak Lah cancelled the Crooked Bridge, the Double-Tracking Project, and so on. That further infuriated Dr Mahathir.

The straw that broke the camel's back was on midnight of 2nd September 2004, a few hours after Anwar Ibrahim was released from jail on the charge of sodomy. Unknown to most, Pak Lah's son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddiin, sneaked into Anwar's house through the kitchen to meet Anwar. This meeting was arranged by the then PKR Youth Leader, Ezam Mohd Nor.

When I found out about this clandestine meeting I immediately wrote about it in Malaysia Today and the next morning there was a lot of brouhaha when Umno demanded an explanation. Pak Lah then explained that Khairy went to meet Anwar to hand him his international passport.

But Khairy was not the Minister of Home Affairs or the head of the Immigration Department. So why should he go to meet Anwar to hand him his passport? Nevertheless, Umno gave Pak Lah the benefit of the doubt, never mind how incredible the explanation may have sounded -- until the following day when The Star published a photograph of Anwar going to the Immigration office to collect his passport.

Pak Lah had lied. Khairy's midnight visit to Anwar's house was not to hand him his passport, as what Pak Lah had said. The Star had revealed this lie. Hence what was the purpose of Khairy's visit?

Later it was revealed that Pak Lah was in discussion with Anwar, through Khairy, for his (Anwar's) return to Umno. Pak Lah knew that Dr Mahathir was after his balls and he thought that an alliance with Anwar (if Anwar returns to Umno, of course) would be the sensible strategy to adopt.

Pak Lah admitted that there actually was such a negotiation. However, since Umno was bitterly opposed to this move, he had no choice but to abort the plan -- and Anwar went on to become the de facto head of PKR, and the Opposition Leader in Parliament in September 2008, four years after he was released from jail.

And is this why Najib allegedly met up with Anwar in Indonesia, a meeting that was allegedly arranged by Pak Lah (and a story that has been denied)? Does Najib know that his time is up and he, too, is seeking an alliance with Anwar to fend off any possible onslaught from Dr Mahathir?

Well, that issue will have to be addressed in part three of this series -- so stay tuned.





















压垮骆驼的最后一根稻草终于在0492日发生了。就在安华被释放的数个小时后,伯拉的女婿,凯利,在通过当时公正党青年团长伊占Ezam Mohd Nor的安排下漏夜前往安华住所,偷偷摸摸地绕过厨房和安华会面。









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