Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is Abdullah buying Najib's loyalty?

YESTERDAY's announcement made PM Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that he has passed the Finance Ministry to his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, is being discussed almost everywhere today.

Najib is generally seen as a better choice to head the ministry. He may not win any award like Abdullah did when the latter took over in 2004, but Najib appears to have a better grasp of economic and financial issues compared to many of his cabinet colleagues.

On the ground, the Pak Lah-Najib watchers have analysed the swap deal and came up with all sorts of interpretations. The UMNO chaps particularly see the move as a step in the right direction, but maintained a rather cynical view of the PM's real intention.

An Umno member in his late 30s said: "I think the PM is trying to buy Najib's loyalty. By giving Najib the finance ministry, the PM hope Najib will not challenge him at the Umno election in December."

Another young member who holds a junior post at the branch level said: "This is a half measure. Pak Lah should get it over and done with by passing the baton to Najib as the PM."

If the PM had thought that the move would quell the unrest of many Umno members, he would be surprised to see that it's not as simple as that. When the PM made the announcement he insisted that the transition plan made by him and Najib remains as it is - that he quit in June 2010 and pass the baton to Najib.

He did say that he may quit earlier, but gave no details as to what would compel him to do so. Mubarak president Tan Sri Abu Zahar remains adamant that the hand over should be now and not in 2010.

Everyone now wait for today's Supreme Council meeting. Many expect the transition plan be discussed again. Vice president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has openly demanded that the changeover be made sooner than 2010.

What will be Najib's reaction to all this? Will he stand solidly with his boss and not budge from June 2010 regime change deadline? An intriguing piece of news reporting on the NST Online has triggered much discussion.

NST online carried one line quoting Najib that he would not want to accept any nomination from divisions for the post of Umno president. The online version had added this one liner to the rest of the story which, in actual fact, is picked from Bernama.

The original Bernama version made no mention of the one line! Is someone trying to pull a fast one on Najib? Or is someone trying to make Pak Lah look bad?

Judging from statements made by the majority of the PM's Cabinet colleagues on this latest move, they are all in support of Najib's new post. But in private, a good number of them continue to express dissatisfaction with Pak Lah's brand of leadership.

As it is, a good number of them have already begun to gravitate around Najib, knowing that that Pekan MP will be the one calling the shots from 2010 onwards, or even earlier as some suggests.

An iftar at Najib's official residence on the past two consecutive nights show just how much gravitation is going on. Some guests had to turn away because they couldn't find seats. Blogger Ahirudin "Rocky Bru" Attan is one of them, I'm told.

The Umno grassroots may have very little say in Cabinet appointments. But they seemed to have found their voice and now have a substantial say as to who they want to be their party leader.

The supreme council may have endorsed the transition plan but there is a growing belief that this may not tally with what the grassroots want. Today's supreme council meeting is expected to be heated.


TPJ said...

Pak Lah buying Najib now is like Pahang buying Man United to sell the game.

Although I can't see Man United taking the offer looking really silly not scoring goals even when they can, Najib is trying hard to dance around direct questions about snatching what's already his for the taking.

MZ said...

who knows muhyidin out of sudden will come on top? :D

MalayMind said...

In the exchange of these portfolios, I see it as a win-win situation.

Pak Lah is getting the MOD - that handles security and Najib is getting the MOF - economic power.

At this verge of transition and having no one he can trust, getting the army is the best option for Pak Lah. After all, he had been using MOF for quite some time and still, he can't influence UMNO leaders to back him up.

MOD will enable Pak Lah to sleep calmly at night and Najib will have big tasks to handle to prove that he's worth it.