Media Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 19th October 2008:
Can Abdullah's last five months as PM
survive the return of Mahathirism?
“Who is he, asks Abdullah” is the New
Sunday Times headline for the report of what it described as “The gloves
came off yesterday.”
The New Sunday Times reported from Kota Kinabalu yesterday that the
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's “patience finally wore
off and he lambasted his predecessor, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad”, viz:
Abdullah said Dr Mahathir was acting as if it
was he (Dr Mahathir) who should determine who played what role in
"Who is he ? He has left Umno but he still issues orders to members
of Umno. The party does not need to take orders from anyone who is
no longer a member of the party," said Abdullah who was here to
attend the Hari Malaysia and closing of the Merdeka month
"He is trying to create a rift and (incite) anger and hatred. What
is wrong with people who work with me? He is trying to teach people
to hate one another."
The Umno president said this in referring to a posting on Dr
Mahathir's blog, calling on Umno to rid itself of all those who
supported Abdullah, referring to them as "toadies".
“Who is he when he is no longer a member of UMNO?”
Abdullah cannot be naïve in not knowing the
answer to his own query, although his rhetorical question is meant to
convey his frustration, impotence and bitterness than to elicit a real
The answer is clear for all – the country is witnessing the return of
Mahathirism with the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
seen as having become the single most powerful and influential
individual to UMNO although he is “no longer a member of the party”.
In fact it would be more congruent with the power reality for Mahathir
to ask, “Who is he” when referring to Abdullah, than for Abdullah to
pose this question vis-à-vis Mahahtrir.
This is because Mahathir was transformed from
a gadfly into “king-maker” on October 8 the instant Abdullah announced
that he had buckled down to pressures in Umno Supreme Council for an
early exit as Prime Minister next March and would not defend the post of
This is obvious from the following incidents:
• Cabinet Ministers beginning to distance
themselves from Abdullah after the Oct. 8 announcement as observed
and deplored by the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s
Department, Datuk Johari Baharom earlier this week;
• Overnight reversal of role with Abdullah’s son-in-law transformed
from “top dog” to “underdog” in Umno Youth chief election – while
Mukhriz Mahathir swept nominations including securing the requisite
39 nominations to contest Umno Youth chief in the first of four
weekends for nominations while Khairy is still struggling to get his
“passport” to contest even after a second weekend of nominations.
Mukhriz would be in Khairy’s shoes, struggling to get the requisite
39 nominations, if not for Abdullah’s Oct. 8 announcement.
• The landmark Hari Raya Open House of Umno stalwart Rauf Yusoh on
Tuesday evening, where the guests and guests-of-honour signal the
real wielders of power in Umno and Barisan Nasional government today
– Najib Razak, Muhyiddin Yasin, Syed Hamid Albar, Shafie Apdal
together with Mahathir.
Abdullah also zeroed in on Muhyiddin in his
lambasting in Kota Kinabalu yesterday, as the International Trade and
Industry Minister had called for the Umno party elections to revert back
from March next year to December, as it is also tantamount to forcing
Abdullah to an earlier exit as Prime Minister in December as well.
In fact, Mahathir had never hidden his position that he wants Abdullah
to step down immediately, claiming that there is nothing Abdullah could
achieve as Prime Minister in the next five months.
Abdullah should know that his writ has now shrunk to very limited power,
scope and effect – whether in government or even in Cabinet.
Although in response to Abdullah’s uncharacteristic outburst, Muhyiddin
has backed off and denied that his call for early Umno party elections
meant that Abdullah speed up the transfer of power to Najib, Abdullah
should have a healthy cynicism and skepticism when his original June
2010 power transition plan had been scuttled repeatedly by the same
The question Abdullah faces is: can his last five months as Prime
Minister survive the return of Mahathirism?
Will the Umno Supreme Council meeting tomorrow decide another
modification of the power-transition plan, reverting the Umno party
elections to December and shortening Abdullah’s five-month exit as Prime
Minister by another three months?
Even if Umno Supreme Council just decide on reverting back the Umno
party elections to December without any mention about the
power-transition plan, what is there to stop a resolution by acclamation
at the Umno General Assembly in December demanding the immediate
transfer of power for Najib to take over as the sixth Prime Minister
instantly after the Umno general assembly?
Kit Siang, DAP
Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor