February 6, 2016
UMNO: Three Down but more problems ahead for Party President
by Scott Ng
And so Mukhriz Mahathir, a son of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s greatest enemy, is no longer in the hallowed halls. All is well in the UMNO camp once again. But is that so?
As perfect as the situation may seem for Najib and his supporters, the reality is that Mukhriz’s ouster has only deepened the divide between UMNO’s leadership and its grassroots.
Mukhriz’s replacement, Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, is a proven weakness. Kedah would still be a Pakatan-held state if not for Mukhriz and the bigwigs who campaigned for him in the last general election. And while he may have preferred spending time in the big city to staying put in largely rural Kedah, he nonetheless ran the state credibly.
As a son of Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Mukhriz’s pedigree would have been unquestioned in any other period of our recent political history. But these are times when Najib holds unchallenged power.
Mukhriz nonetheless went down swinging. He told the press that the true reason UMNO wanted him gone was that he had the gall to criticise the PM over the 1MDB scandal and the issue of the RM2.6 billion donation. In doing so, he affirmed the belief of thousands of supporters, as well as many other Malaysians, that Najib Razak cares only for Najib Razak, and that there will be hell to pay if any UMNO leader dares to step out of line.
Even the opposition members of the Kedah state assembly went to bat for Mukhriz, with all 15 of them endorsing a statement calling for Najib to step down instead. They said the removal of the Menteri Besar must be done according to the law. Far from merely attempting to drive a wedge between the ruling party and the people, the opposition here voiced out what many Kedahans have been saying — if there really is a crisis of confidence, put it to a vote and show the people that Mukhriz really has lost the support of the state assembly.
Maybe this Bomoh can save UMNO
These shenanigans and ground shifts no longer confuse the people or make them fearful. They make them angry instead, and UMNO is deluding itself if it thinks that the voices that swelled in song at Stadium Darul Aman belonged only to Mukhriz’s political camp. The truth is that the rakyat in Kedah and elsewhere are fed up with the actions of the ruling party and they are no longer content to be silent about it. This certainly is not something any ruling party would want as it prepares for a general election.
UMNO must know that it may have gambled Kedah away unless it has a strikingly brilliant plan for regaining the trust of voters before GE14. But appearances thus far indicate that the party is playing a dangerous game of touch and go. If the clashes currently happening between Mukhriz’s supporters and detractors are any indication, it is likely that the Kedah situation is far from over.
The nation will be watching closely, and the Prime Minister must choose his next move wisely or bear even more open derision in the face of his efforts to turn public opinion around. Where Kedah goes from here, there too may go the rest of the country. Q.E.D