Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dr M will keep pushing

April 21, 2009 Tuesday, 03:02 PM

Reme Ahmad says after sinking Abdullah, Dr Mahathir now rocks PM Najib's boat.

WHEN Datuk Seri Najib Razak was installed as Prime Minister just over two weeks ago, many people in Umno  really hoped for a new beginning after the disastrous 5-1/2-year rule of his predecessor.

Part of the new hope was fired up by the return of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad into the Umno fold after years of bitter attacks against the government of Tun Abdullah Badawi.

Pictures of Dr Mahathir attending Mr Najib's installation and going around campaigning for Barisan Nasional in Bukit Gantang warmed many Umno hearts (although BN still lost badly).

The big hope was that the Old Man would now stop attacking the party and the coalition and help the government restore confidence in Umno and BN.

The big hope was also that Dr M (and perhaps a retired Daim Zainuddin) would be roped in to help steady the unsteady economy. Now, it seems those hopes are fast dissipating.

Guess who said these great sound bites in just one week:

1. The Malaysian Cabinet just appointed by Mr Najib has "unsavoury characters" as ministers.

2. BN should not be afraid to contest the Penanti by-election in Penang.

3. The Malaysian government should go ahead with the crooked bridge in Johor.

For No.1, it was PM Najib's big hope that Malaysians would accept his 28 ministers and 40 deputy ministers.

But no, Dr M is not pleased. A premier for 22 years, he seems to have forgotten that in appointing a new Cabinet, PM Najib had to make the 13 BN coalition partners happy and ensure that there is at least one Umno leader as minister or deputy minister from all the states (except Sarawak where Umno does not exist).

Do otherwise and the PM could face revolt within its ranks.

For issue No.2 - sure, BN and Umno will look like cowards if they say 'No' to Penanti: An unprecedented retreat by the Grand Ole Party of Malaysia's independence.

But the calculation of PM Najib could have been that better be called coward for a week, and then people will move on to other issues.

But to agree to a by-election would be worse. It is bad for his standing, as the opposition will keep up their attacks against him and the government for a week or more during the campaigning.

And then, after the expected win in Penanti, the opposition and the many blogs supportive of it will celebrate loudly for at least one more week.

The opposition will shout loudly from the rooftops that Umno-BN's loss of Penanti is another indication that the people have rejected the coalition.

A fresh rejection of him and his Cabinet too.

And this time there is no excuse to say - as Deputy PM Muhyiddin Yassin said after losing the recent by-elections - that the ‘fact of the new PM has not been absorbed by the rakyat yet’.

Issue No.3 is a hot potato for PM Najib. Should he agree to a crooked bridge, Singapore could be expected to once again raise its legal objections.

Meaning, he could be tied down with rhetoric within Malaysia (Umno leaders will line up to attack Singapore) and with the Republic over the issue.

Yes indeed, he could ignore the Singaporeans perhaps, but he would still be faced with a sceptical rakyat, because not everyone liked the idea of a crooked bridge - as opposed to a nice straight bridge.

The half-bridge, covering only Malaysia's side of the Causeway, would be a permanent ugly symbol of the type of relations Malaysia has with Singapore.

And since compensation has been paid out to developer Gerbang Perdana and others involved in the contract, does the government now ask  for the money back? And then ask them to re-start the project? What if they don't want to and ask for more money?

But on the flip side, if PM Najib keeps quiet over the issue, he can be sure that Dr M will keep pushing and pushing.

[The indomitable Dr M. The Incredibly huge ego of Dr M. The stupidity of Dr M. The Blindness of Dr M. The arrogance of Dr M. The Presumptuous Dr M. The stubborn Dr M. The undignified Dr M. The persistent Dr M. The Clueless Dr M.

Give the PM a chance. I don't like him, but he's winning me over. I thought the "by-elections are a waste of money" was an incredibly astute move. Then Dr M puts his foot in Najib's mouth. Idiot. You give him no face, you paint him into a corner, and you leave him with little choice. You sabotage him and undermine him. If you wanted to be PM, you should have just continued. Stepping down, only to cut the legs off all those who step forward is ungracious, and serves only UMNO detractors. I think UMNO is wrong and needs to be revised, but you are making it incredibly irrelevant.]

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