by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on
Friday, 17th October 2008:
Can Abdullah last as Prime Minister till
next March and is Mahathir orchestrating Abdullah’s earlier exit in
At the DAP Bagan 6,000-People Solidarity
Dinner in Penang last night, I said I did not know whether Datuk Seri
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will continue to be Prime Minister by next March,
although Abdullah has said that he wanted to devote his last five months
as Malaysia’s fifth Prime Minister to accomplish some of the reforms
which he had failed to honour – in particular, the judiciary,
anti-corruption and the police.
I told the dinner crowd that a campaign was afoot inside Umno to force
Abdullah to leave the Putrajaya corridors of power earlier than the
This pressure has now surfaced publicly with UMNO Vice President Tan Sri
Muhyiddin Yassin again playing the “stalking horse” in suggesting a
scenario which will see another modification of Abdullah’s original but
tattered mid-2010 power transition power and his earlier exit as Prime
Minister in December this year.
Muhyiddin’s call is deliberately timed so that it could be endorsed by
the Umno divisions holding their meetings this weekend as to create a
“popular” momentum which could justify a further UMNO Supreme Council
modification of the power transition plan.
The question that is uppermost in many minds is whether former Prime
Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is now back “in the saddle”, although
has quit Umno, and orchestrating Abdullah’s earlier exit in December?
Mahathir had denied that he will be the “de facto” PM and the power
behind the throne when Datuk Seri Najib Razak becomes the sixth Prime
Minister, dismissing as nonsense talk that Najib was his man and that he
(Mahathir) could influence Najib.
But who would believe Mahathir? It would be interesting to put this
question to a public opinion survey and see the results.
What Malaysians are interested in hearing from Abdullah tomorrow in his
last official opening of the MCA General Assembly as Barisan Nasional
Chairman is how he proposes to fend off mounting pressures in UMNO for
his earlier exit as Prime Minister than next March and how he can
definitely ensure that he could salvage and implement his minimal reform
programme before he steps down as Prime Minister.
Surely the question as to when the Prime Minister should retire from
office should not be sole prerogative of Umno, with all the other
Barisan Nasional component parties completely excluded from the
decision-making process – as Abdullah is the Barisan Nasional Prime
Minister and not just Umno Prime Minister!
It is most regrettable that no single MCA leader, regardless whether
incumbents or contestants for high MCA office – and this goes for all
the other Barisan Nasional component parties whether Gerakan, MIC or
SUPP - had dared to say a single word on the issue of the tenure and
appointment of a Prime Minister as well as how they could provide
support to Abdullah to ensure that his final minimal reform programme
could be salvaged and implemented before Najib takes over as the sixth
Kit Siang, DAP
Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor