The long awaited decision is finally known i.e. Pak Lah has conceded not to contest for UMNO's Presidency in the up coming party election scheduled March 2009, and will remain PM until that time, before he finally hands over to his present deputy, Najib Tun Razak. Pak Lah claims that there are a number of unfinished work to be done by him, from now until he relinquish his job in March next year. Whether he could effectively implement the unfinished work within the next 5 months, is left to be seen. But what is more important is whether Najib (or whosoever takes over as PM) wants to seriously continue with what is left by Pak Lah. We have seen what had become of the projects left by Tun Mahathir soon after Pak Lah took over as PM, and the same can happen this time around. What guarantees does Pak Lah have......virtually nothing.
With this development, Najib is now placed in a predicament i.e. should Tengku Razaleigh insist upon his bid for the number one spot by securing enough nominations, which will then force Najib to challenge the former's bid. However, should Tengku Razaleigh decides not to contest, and assuming that there are no other contenders for the number one spot, then can we only say that Najib's position as the PM designate is firmly secured.
However in politics, and in particular the party elections, nothing is firmly decided until the very last moment. What if out of the blues, some aspiring and ambitious senior UMNO member decides to adopt the 'shock and awe' rhetorics of US President George Bush, and throws in his challenge for the number one party post? Realistically, there is nothing to stop, Muhyiddin Yasin, Rais Yatim, Ali Rustam or even for that matter, Muhammad Muhammad Taib aka Mike Tyson, to suddenly declare himself a candidate for the number one spot. Isn't this exciting, if this is to happen, because it is well known that Ali Rustam and Muhammad Taib are the two closest allies of Pak Lah.
With regards to the number two post, and in the absence of an official announcement from any of the potential candidates, the fight therefore is left open to all three Vice Presidents, as well as to any aspiring party member. We have seen how an 'obscure' party member from Johore had voiced his intention to bid for the number two post. And there is nothing sinister or odd about this challenge, since the talk in the party has always been to draw young blood into the party's leadership. And wasn't Najib thrown into the party leadership at an early age?
This year's party elections, which will culminate in the general assembly scheduled in March 2009, will determine the new line up for the party's leadership, which includes members of the supreme council, Vice President, Deputy President and finally the President. Other equally important party posts that will see intense lobbying will be the UMNO Youth chief and Wanita UMNO posts.
In the case of the post of Wanita UMNO chief, it is unlikely that the incumbent chief, Rafidah Aziz will be challenged. Rafidah like Pak Lah, has made it known that she wish to retain her party post till March 2009, and to hand over to Sharizat thereafter. This request by Rafidah may appear unusual, but in Malay politics, compromise and not to offence others, is an honourable thing to do. However, it is also rumoured that the former Puteri UMNO chief, Azalina Othman (who is not recognised a Wanita member, although she is physiologically and physically a wanita) has been persuaded by her supporters within Wanita, to throw her bid for the Wanita UMNO's top post. Should this happened, Rafidah like Najib, will be forced to contest, and this challenge could be an exciting one i.e. youth versus age.
With all this maneuvering and lobbying by candidates and its supporters that precede the elections, the major concern will be on ensuring that the party members abide by party discipline, particularly money politics, also known as bribes to others outside politics. This has been an apparent weakness in UMNO, and despite repeated warnings by the party's disciplinary chief, money politics is not likely to be undone in UMNO. And wasn't Tun Mahathir deprived of being nominated a representative of his division to the previous general assembly because of a mere RM200? I hope this time around, UMNO members worth are more than that.
With Najib being the most likely person to be hailed the 6th PM of this country, the kissing of Najib's hands by party members is set to begin in earnest and for this, former Perlis MB, Sahidan Kassim had shown them the way. But please don't you also forget to kiss the hands of Rosmah.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION
Posted at 0600hrs Oct 9th 2008