(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Former Wanita UMNO chief Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz said yesterday that Tan Sri Muhammad Taib should relinquish the post of UMNO Vice President as it was also an elected position.
She said: "He should resign as vice president. However, he may have reasons to retain the post and maybe resign later".
Yesterday, in his press conference, Muhammad Taib said that it was necessary for him to resign as the post of Mentri Besar of Selangor is a public office, and as a 'responsible UMNO leader, I cannot allow my case to be linked to the party and the Government'.
Muhammad Taib is intelligent enough to know that so long as he retains the post of UMNO Vice President, his case would be linked to UMNO. For this reason, Muhammad Taib should heed the advice of Rafidah Aziz to resign as UMNO Vice President. In fact, this has also been the underlying though unstated message of many other UMNO national leaders in their public reactions to Muhammad Taib’s resignation as Selangor Mentri Besar and also from the posts of Selangor UMNO Liaison Committee Chairman and Federal Territory Barisan Nasional Chairman.
There is no doubt that Muhammad Taib’s resignation was caused by two events, firstly, the revelations in the Brisbane Courier-Mail of over RM25.4 million worth of various expenditures and properties in Australia linked to him and for which Muhammad Taib had not been able to publicly rebut and give a satisfactory explanation when these were highlighted in Parliament and secondly, the motion of no confidence which the Selangor State Assembly Opposition Leader and DAP Assemblyman for Bukit Gasing, Teng Chang Khim, had given notice to move against Muhammad Taib in the Selangor State Assembly meeting yesterday.
For the past week, there had been intense interest among UMNO Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and MPs in Parliament as to what would happen in the Selangor State Assembly when the motion of no confidence is moved against Muhammad Taib.
Of course, no one - whether in UMNO or DAP - had expected Teng Chang Khim’s no- confidence motion against Muhammad Taib as Selangor Mentri Besar to be carried. Muhammad Taib would have suffered a catastrophic defeat in the DAP no-confidence motion vote in the Selangor State Assembly yesterday in his failure to marshall full support of UMNO Exco and State Assemby members
The important question is not whether the motion of no confidence against Muhammad Taib would be carried - as it was a foregone conclusion that the motion of no confidence against Muhammad Taib would definitely be defeated - but how many UMNO Exco members and Assemblymen would find excuses to stay away from the State Assembly meeting so as not to have to vote in support of Muhammad Taib in the no-confidence motion and in this manner to express their dissociation from Muhammad Taib and their lack of confidence in him.
Yesterday, only 32 out of 48 State Assemblymen were present, with 15 (excluding Muhammad Taib himself), having found excuses earlier to stay away from the State Assembly, as going overseas. This means that in a vote on the no-confidence motion, the result would have been three votes in support while 28 votes in opposition (as the Speaker would not be able to vote).
This would have been a big loss of face and a major political setback for Muhammad Taib, as in a crucial debate like a no-confidence motion on the Mentri Besar, there should be a 100 per cent attendance and support by all Exco members and government assemblymen for the head of government, i.e. a decisive and overwhelming 43 - 3 division (with Speaker and the Mentri Besar abstaining), and not a ignominous 28-3 division if the no-confidence motion had been proceeded to a vote yesterday.
Muhammad Taib is a shrewd political leader and must have seen the 'writing on the wall' that he could not marshall full support of UMNO Exco members and assemblymen in the no-confidence motion against him, although he could always depend on the support of the members from the other Barisan Nasional parties, like the MCA.
He is also shrewd enough to know that a 28-3 vote victory in the no-confidence motion in the Selangor State Assembly yesterday would be no victory, but a catastrophic defeat as his failure to secure a 43-3 vote landslide victory would completely undermine his credibility inside UMNO, the Barisan Nasional and in the country.
If Muhammad Taib wanted to avoid a political disaster, he had no choice in the circumstances but to resign as Selangor Mentri Besar, although he had tenaciously clung on to the post for three-and-a-half months when he should have resigned the instant he was arrested and charged in the Brisbane court on December 23 last year.
I do not see how Muhammad Taib can continue to retain his post as UMNO Vice President if he is serious and sincere about wanting to introduce the 'new culture of accountability' as to be found in Japan and South Korea where government and political leaders resign their various posts when under investigations for being involved in scandals of corruption, gross negligence or incompetence.