It’s People Power.
Exactly seven months after the 8 March political tsunami swept the land, Abdullah has announced that he will not be defending his Umno presidency. Consider it a delayed reaction to the stunning setback suffered by the Umno-led ruling coalition in the general election and the further erosion in support evident in the 26 August Permatang Pauh by-election.
Abdullah is the biggest casualty of the ‘tsunami’.
“It’s very disappointing,” said a Penang-based activist. “He was pushed out and he went away like a mouse.”
But before anyone celebrates, mull over this: it leaves the door open for Najib to take over, though he first has to navigate past Razaleigh in the party elections before Abdullah will hand over power. If he does, are we in for another round of repressive rule ala Mahathir?
Many Malaysians will be disappointed that Abdullah, who promised so much when he won the 2004 general election with a big bang, now appears to be going out with a squeak.
With nothing to lose now, Abdullah plans to push through some of his reforms – making the judiciary and the ACA more independent and reforming the police (what about abolishing the ISA?) – and shore up a little of his legacy. But if he couldn’t do it at the height of his popularity, how will he do it now as a lame-duck premier – without Zaid Ibrahim – and with Najib breathing down his neck?
Reforms that could have be carried out in the last five years now to be completed in five months (until March)? Unlikely.
Several questions now arise:
- How will Razaleigh fare against Najib?
- Will the BN component parties suffer a further erosion of support if Najib takes over?
- Will Mahathir and company be back? (Oh no! God help us…)
- How will Khairy fare against Mukhriz?
- What will be the fate of Muhyiddin? Will Abdullah still want him in his cabinet?
- Does any of this really matter – will Pakatan succeed in its motion of no-confidence? (Next show begins on 13 October!)
But Abdullah could have the last laugh. He can now just sit back and watch the fun as Najib tries to manage the Malaysian economy at a time when global markets are tumbling all over.
More damaging information could be “leaked” about Najib.
The RPK trials could take a dramatic turn, who knows. What happens if RPK is released from ISA detention and then gives Najib a hard time?
It’s not over till the fat lady sings… (no, I am not referring to anyone in particular! It’s just a saying-la).