Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling
Jaya on Tuesday, 23rd September 2008:
Abdullah fights for his political life –
will Najib "sink or swim" with him?
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has decided to fight
for his political life.
The question is who will be the protagonists in the looming royal battle
in UMNO – and what are the stakes involved.
Will the protagonists in the Umno Presidential battle be Abdullah vs
Najib, or will Najib "sink or swim" with Abdullah in a Abdullah-Najib
battle against the rest?
What are the stakes involved? This question would be obtuse or even
stupid in the past five decades when whoever is Umno President is
automatically the Prime Minister.
But this is no more the case after the two political tsunamis in the
past six months - the first in the general election of March 8 and
second in the Permatang Pauh by-election on August 26.
As a result, the battle to be the Umno President at the end of the year
is no more automatically about who is to be the next Prime Minister but
probably the next Parliamentary Opposition Leader.
Although Umno Information Chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib Monday
yesterday slammed as "opportunists" those who leaked information on
matters discussed in the party's supreme council meeting (which includes
Muhammad himself), the facts remain uncontradicted that at last
Thursday's Umno Supreme Council meeting, Abdullah was pressured to have
a quicker exit plan and not wait until mid-2010 according to his earlier
power transition plan with Najib.
Rafidah (who joined Muhyiddin Yassin, Hishammuddin Hussein and Shafie
Apdal to pressure Abdullah to fast-forward the transition plan to hand
power to Najib) even warned that Abdullah might not even be able to
secure the minimum 58 nominations (i.e. 30 per cent) required to defend
his Umno presidency.
Abdullah was openly pressured to make known his intentions by October 9
when Umno divisions begin nominating candidates for the Umno polls in
Two events yesterday marked the Abdullah decision to go for broke in the
Umno party polls after a three-day panic of the Abdullah camp over the
"palace revolt" at Thursday's Umno Supreme Council meeting.
The first was the public pledge of support for the beleaguered Abdullah
by Penang Umno, calling on all the 193 divisions not to rock the boat
and honour the 2010 power transition plan.
This is most ironic as it was the Penang Umno which had done the most
damage to the credibility, authority and legitimacy of Abdullah as Umno
President and Prime Minister with its open defiance and contempt of the
Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in giving full backing to Datuk
Ahmad Ismail in the "Chinese are penumpang" furore – which has now been
aggravated by the presence of Ahmad Ismail at the Penang Umno meeting
and press conference as "UMNO Bukit Bendera adviser" although suspended
for three years as Umno member.
Abdullah's statement in Kota Baharu yesterday that Umno grassroots
members want the strengthening of the spirit of consensus in the party
in line with the leadership transition plan in 2010 was the second
indication of his decision to go for broke in the Umno party polls.
Hence, the Singapore Business Times report "Abdullah may seek
re-election as Umno chief", viz:
MUCH to the surprise of political pundits
here, Malaysia's embattled Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is
likely to seek re-election as president of the United Malays
National Organisation (Umno) - the position that carries the prime
Party officials say Mr Abdullah, 67, made the decision at the
weekend after huddling with party allies and family members
including his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin, the deputy chief of
Umno's youth wing.
'OK, we won't get that many nominations,' an Abdullah ally told BT.
'But I think we should be able to get 70 to 80 with some work.' A
challenger for the presidency needs at least 58 nominations from the
party's 191 divisions nationwide.
But not all Umno officials think that Mr Abdullah can pull off
re-election. At a meeting of Umno state liaison chiefs last
Thursday, at least two of his loyalists - Johor Chief Minister Ghani
Othman and his Pahang counterpart Adnan Yaakub - told him they can
no longer control their divisions, which are likely not to nominate
And at an Umno Supreme Council meeting later, at least four senior
members suggested in strong language that Mr Abdullah not seek
re-election lest he be humiliated by a lack of nominations.
The meeting ended abruptly after Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak
said he would settle the leadership transition in talks with Mr
Malaysianinsider has its report
"Pak Lah set to defend Umno presidency" :
Barring a last-minute turnaround, Datuk Seri
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will go ahead and defend his position as Umno
party president, despite some pressure from the ground for him to
short-circuit his transition plan.
Sources told The Malaysian Insider that the Prime Minister reached
this decision after meeting several Umno supreme council members,
state liaison chiefs and political operatives over the weekend at
his official residence Sri Perdana.
The consensus among this group, which includes Umno
secretary-general Tengku Adnan Mansor, is that Abdullah should be
able to garner the minimum 58 nominations needed to contest the top
post. Abdullah's supporters said that with the green light from him,
they will hit the ground and conduct a no-holds-barred campaign for
the next few weeks to ensure that he gets the nominations when Umno
divisions begin their divisional meetings.
This decision by Abdullah to defend his party president's position
will come as a surprise to many, especially those in Datuk Seri
Najib Razak's camp. During the supreme council meeting on Thursday,
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein, Datuk Rafidah
Aziz and Datuk Shafie Apdal urged Abdullah to hand over the reins to
Najib soon, with Rafidah saying that the PM will face difficulty
getting the minimum number of nominations.
Hearing this feedback, many party officials and political pundits
expected him to announce that he would not contest the party
But instead of demoralising Abdullah and his supporters, the attack
by Hishammuddin and others had the opposite effect. Abdullah's camp
felt that despite being magnanimous by handing over the Finance
portfolio and even suggesting during a press conference that he
would hand over power to Najib much earlier than 2010, he was being
pushed to the wall.
A senior party official told The Malaysian Insider: "You can push
someone up to a point only. After that it becomes humiliating. So it
is rubbish to say that Pak Lah will be humiliated if he contests the
party elections. Some people are already trying to do this. He has
nothing to lose by keeping to the original transition plan.''
This decision will spook the DPM and his supporters. Najib can
ill-afford an all-out battle for the party presidency. With his
strong support base on the ground he will be the favourite to get
more nominations than Abdullah but it will come at a great cost to
him and his desire to lead a united party.
As such, Najib is likely to support Abdullah's desire to contest the
party elections, knowing that a no-holds-barred contest will damage
both of them badly.
Where does Najib really stand in the UMNO
Clearly the affairs of state and the worsening multiple crisis of
confidence which had been neglected for more than six months since the
March 8 political tsunami will have to continue to occupy peripheral
attention while the Umno leaders slug it out for the next three months -
whether for Prime Minister or Opposition Leader.
Kit Siang, DAP
Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor