DATUK Zaid Ibrahim, a first-timer in the Malaysian Cabinet, has 'advised' his senior colleague, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, to resign from his portfolio if he's unhappy with his boss, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The defacto Law Minister also 'advised' Abdullah to sack Muhyiddin, an UMNO vice president, for publicly suggesting that Abdullah should not wait till June 2010 to put into effect the Umno transition plan which has been endorsed by the party supreme council and subsequently by the Cabinet.
Zaid's comments were carried in today's newspapers. I scanned the newspapers but didsn't see if Zaid had also commented on deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who suggested that the transition be put to Umno members for their views.
Najb's statement is a departure from his previous stand that the transition plan should be supported. Today, Najib's statement had emboldened other Umno leaders to also suggest the plan be tabled at divisional meetings which begin next month.
If this is done, there is wide speculation that the plan could be abandoned in favour of an earlier deadline, preferably in December when the party holds in election of office bearers.
Zaid made no reference to Najib's statement which is also a clear sign that the latter is having second thoughts about the transition plan. Bear in mind that Najib is the immediate beneficiary if the plan is executed.
Zaid's inclusion into the Cabinet into the Cabinet was not via the electoral process. Instead, he was made a Senator and was later appointed to the Cabinet, much to the chagrin of other UMNO MPs who feel that they have a genuine claim to the Cabinet.
Zaid and Muhyiddin had a previous running in. Earlier this year, Muhyiddin had questioned the wisdom of Zaid's reforms of the judiciarty without first of all briefing the Cabinet.
It remains to be seen if Zaid's comments would encourage Cabinet ministers to echo the same sentiments. It looks like the demarcation line is being drawn within the Cabinet, and this may not necessarily be good or productive.
Abdullah, using his prerogative, can terminate Muhyiddin's position quite easily. But would that be a wise thing to do? And would he take the same route regarding Najib? Would the PM kick these two out from their portfolios and set an example to others who may offer another view, and not necessarily a dissenting one?
Judging from today's sentiments from ordinar members after they had read the reports, sacking Muhyiddin can be costly to the party and it's top leader. Divisional heads will certainly be reviewing their position in the wake of the development in the last few days.
I expect other Cabinet members and Menteris Besar or chief ministers to also be giving their 2-sen worth of views on this matter. Are they with Abdullah, or are they with Muhyiddin and Najib.
Whatever their choices, the battle lines are being drawn. This time, it could have a telling effoct not only in Umno but in the country as well. The Umno party leadership
could very well be 'decided' at the divisional meetings which begins next month rather than in December.