February 28, 2016
UMNO after Muhyiddin’s suspension–Leadership Crisis
Muhyiddin Blew his Chances by being Cautious–Not Prime Minister Material
COMMENT: The suspension of former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin brings reminiscences of Musa Hitam’s removal back in 1986.
Despite being an UMNO stronghold, both Johoreans suffered the same fate and lost their positions to fellow UMNO members from another state.
In an immediate response, Gerakan Ketua Cawangan Malaysia (GKCM) President Kamarulazman Habibur Rahman has warned that Prime Minister and UMNO President Najib Abdul Razak will have sleepless nights following Muhyiddin’s suspension.
The rebel UMNO group has warned that it will continue to expand its influence throughout the country.
At the same time, Pagoh UMNO Deputy Chief Ismail Mohamed has lambasted former UMNO Johor leader Hishammuddin Hussein for his role in chairing the committee to expel Muhyiddin as UMNO Deputy President.
Kamarulazman is right in that the suspension of Muhyiddin will see further infighting within the party, as currently, there are rumours that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is aiming for Najib’s position.
Unless Hishammuddin’s faction fights back, the more gentlemanly MP of Sembrong, who is also grandson of the founder of UMNO, Onn Jaafar, and son of former prime minister Hussein Onn, will be the next sacrificial lamb from the state of Johor.
Unlikely to remain quiet
After a brief stint of silence, Muhyiddin has turned on the heat on Najib lately. After his suspension, it is unlikely that he will remain silent.
While still holding the post as UMNO Deputy President, Muhyiddin would be careful not to cause any damage to UMNO; now that he has been suspended from UMNO, and his entire career has been ruined, Muhyiddin will be likely to fight back.
His struggle is not alone, as there are veterans such as former international trade and industry Rafidah Aziz who will continue to speak up.Other veterans may also join in the foray after seeing Muhyiddin being suspended, without even Muhyiddin being called to defend himself.
Under normal circumstances, such a suspension should have been carried out by the disciplinary board, but in this instance, its chairperson Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen Tengku Ismail has remained silent.
A fellow disciplinary board member, Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas has previously weighed in on Saifuddin Abdullah’s attendance at a Pakatan Harapan event in September last year.
It is unclear whether Megat Najmuddin or Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen is the current chairperson of the board, as various news reports quoted Megat Najmuddin as the chairperson, although UMNO legal adviser Hafarizam Harun later clarified that Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen is still the chairperson.
Mahathir’s faction beefing up
Getting stronger by the day
It appears that after the expose, the 1MDB scandal has contributed to the animosity within UMNO more than before.
When former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad also started asking critical questions, and Najib remained silent, all hell broke loose for Najib. Few may agree with Dr Mahathir, but when the octogenarian started throwing mud at Najib, the 90-year-old former UMNO President suddenly became a hero once again.
Even I am inclined to think that he is trying to dismantle the fortress that he had built over the years, which keeps Najib’s position secure despite being a weak leader himself.
Dr Mahathir’s camp, especially former New Straits Times group editor-in-chief Kadir Jasin, will surely not cease from harping on Najib.
One of Dr Mahathir’s henchmen, Matthias Chang, has predicted that there will be a change of guard soon, when he asked, “The next Deputy Prime Minister – will he be Nazri, Hishammuddin or the outsider Tengku Adnan?”
Chang has put together several scenarios, one of which is for Zahid to “execute a coup d’etat against Najib before he is disposed because Najib realises that with each passing day, Zahid Hamidi can only get stronger and stronger and gather his palace guards for the coup d’etat.”
There is more to come, but the situation can only get worse. Meanwhile, the country’s economic slowdown will take the bite as investors’ confidence has dropped.
Umno Team B’s other alternative
Unlike the 1987 split in UMNO, where team B led by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah later formed Semangat 46, now UMNO’s team B has in place a much stronger opposition.
The question of loyalty to UMNO will once again be raised, especially since the infighting within UMNO can only mean either Tourism Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz, Hishammuddin or Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor becoming Deputy Prime Minister.
UMNO will not change very much in its culture, until it has been brought to its heel. As pointed out by former Bersih 2.0 co-chair, Ambiga Sreeneevasan, corruption at the highest level carries on regardless of the exposes.
UMNO has become indifferent to the people’s suffering as highlighted by Bukit Lanjan state assemblyperson Elizabeth Wong during her recent Chinese New Year speech.
UMNO, as it is, even with a new line of leadership under Zahid, will not be able to win a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
If going by Kamarulazman’s statement that the group will cooperate with anyone to achieve its mission, perhaps it is time for re-alignment of forces to start a new Malaysia, where people of all races and religions will work side by side as fellow Malaysians, and the poor will not face discriminated due to race, religion or creed.
STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.