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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

UMNO Johor stepping the way?

It appeared recently in Malaysian Insider, but of course, according to the papers, "who cares?"

Johor Umno lobby in move to call for Abdullah's exit
Singapore Business Times - 08 Apr 2008

PRIME Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will probably not serve out his
full term as he is likely to be persuaded to step down in a managed,
but dignified, exit.

According to officials of the ruling United Malays National
Organisation (Umno), of which Mr Abdullah is president, a Saturday
meeting of the Johor Umno liaison committee, the state's highest
policy making body, resolved that Mr Abdullah should step down but in
a manner that should not humiliate him in any way.

'The anger on the ground is just too strong for him to stay,' one of
the officials said, 'but it must be done in a courteous manner.'

On a timetable for succession, the official was less clear, implying
there was either no clear consensus or that Mr Abdullah could map out
his own schedule if he so wished. Umno has decided to hold party
elections in December.

The Johor lobby is immensely powerful in Umno as the state is not only
the historical birthplace of the party but has the most senior office
bearers within Umno so the resolution is significant and carries

There are six ministers in the Cabinet from Johor, the most from any
one state, and at least one serving Umno vice-president -
International Trade Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

If it pans out, Mr Abdullah's long goodbye will have striking
parallels with the ouster of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the country's first
prime minister, who saw the writing on the wall not long after the
1969 elections when his then ruling Alliance coalition fared dismally
and announced that he would step down in September 1970, a year after
the elections.

It isn't clear if Mr Abdullah can hold out for that long. In addition,
in the Tunku's case, the country was already being led by Abdul Razak
Hussein, his deputy then, in the capacity as head of the National
Operations Council.

Malaysia was then administered by the NOC because an emergency had
been declared after racial riots broke out in the aftermath of the
election. In yet another parallel, Mr Abdullah's current deputy is
Najib Razak, the eldest son of Mr Abdul Razak.

Mr Abdullah is expected to be told formally of Johor Umno's decision
by Umno liaison chief Ghani Othman, the state's Chief Minister, this
Friday when the prime minister makes an official visit to the state.

It isn't clear how he will react as Johor Umno has traditionally been
among his strongest supporters. Indeed, in recent days, Mr Abdullah
has repeatedly vowed that he would not resign, insisting that he
'would stay and fight'

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