Tomorrow, April 3, 2009 at 10 am, Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak will be sworn in as the 6th Prime Minister of Malaysia, in a ceremony to be held at the Istana in Kuala Lumpur, in the presence of the King, thus ending all speculations and rumours regarding the succession to Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Never has Malaysians been so divided in their choice as to who they prefer as the next Prime Minister after Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Even from among the ranks of UMNO itself, there has been uneasiness and uncertainty as to the choice of Najib, who had over the last few years been severely criticized by the opposition for allegations of corruption, sexual escapade and even murder. Such allegations though not brought before the courts has somehow affected Najib’s standing in the eyes of the Malaysian public.
It is only Najib who knows the entire truth, and he cannot lie when he is brought to face the Almighty in the hereafter. That will be everybody’s fear, but how many amongst us really fear the hereafter?
And any amount of swearing by Najib will not convince anyone with a fixed negative perception of him, that he is innocent of all the allegations. It is for this reason that many have suggested that Najib clears himself of all allegations first, before he becomes the Prime Minister. Some have even suggested that Najib brings to court those who deliberately demonized him. But Najib had all along preferred to be defensive with his ‘enemies’, and this has made them even bolder.
I think, the most challenging task for Najib upon his succession as the newly anointed Prime Minister will be the choice of his cabinet ministers and deputy ministers. I believe Muhyiddin Yassin is the obvious choice as the Deputy Prime Minister, and for Najib to disregard this choice will incur the wrath of many from within the party. This is the least that Najib wants to be burdened with at the start of his premiership.
I also believe that Najib would want to ensure the highest level of loyalty from among his most senior party leaders, especially those who were elected to the three posts of the party’s Vice President, and the Deputy President.
To ensure loyalty and unbridled support, I believe all the four senior party leaders i.e. Muhyiddin Yassin, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Hishamuddin Hussein and Shafie Afdal, to my mind will be offered the ‘command’ of important ministries such as Finance, Defence, Home Affairs, Education, Foreign Affairs and possibly International Trade.
Allow me to hasten a guess as to how I think Najib’s would want to ‘deploy’ his four top senior party leaders, and with himself as the Prime Minister and Finance Minister. The four others as follows:
1. Defence - Hishamuddin Hussein
2. Education - Ahmad Zahid Hamidi
3. Home Affairs - Muhyiddin Yassin
4. International Trade - Shafie Afdal
It is most likely that Rais Yatim, through having lost in his bid for the Supreme Council seat will retain his Foreign Ministry portfolio. He articulates well in the international arena, and to replace him now will not be a good for the country.
I also sense that several ministers will lose their job as they are seen as non performers. My intuition tells me that the likes of Muhammad Muhammad Taib, Azalina Othman,Noraini Ahmad, Mohd Noor Yacob and Syed Hamid Albar will be told to take their leave.
It will also be interesting to see whether Najib will offer Shahrizat Jalil and Khairy Jamaluddin a ministerial post; they having won the Wanita and Pemuda top post respectively. I have my qualms concerning Khairy because of the controversies surrounding his qualification as a candidate for the Pemuda, despite being found guilty for money politics by the party’s disciplinary committee. And he is also not a popular person among the grassroots, as seen during the recent UMNO General Assembly.
One person that I have my highest regards is Mustapha Mohamed who won the highest vote for the Supreme Council. He should be considered for an important cabinet post; like taking over the post of Finance Minister. This will relief Najib of the post, and to allow him to concentrate on his Prime Minister’s portfolio which is ever encompassing.
In deciding his final line up of his cabinet, Najib must be weary of those who are known to have been involved in corruption in the past, and they should not be considered at all, if Najib is indeed serious in wanting to eradicate corruption among his ministers.
We have heard how power have corrupted politicians, and the Khir Toyo's on-going case is one obvious bad example. There are still many others, but time will tell the extend of corruption that has permeated the ranks of ministers and politicians in the past.
The nation demands the best of its ministers, and Najib has in no uncertain terms promised that his priority lies in the people first, before self. And will this promise be kept?
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION
Posted at 11 pm on April 2, 2009