Will Najib survive the March 8 Umno divisional leaders’ solidarity meeting?

The single political issue in the country after the Federal Court’s 5-0 dismissal of Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal in Sodomy II on February 10, resulting his fourth incarceration in his 47 years of public life and struggle for freedom, democracy, human dignity and good governance should be: “Quo Vadis, Anwar?”

Instead, the question has swiftly become “Quo Vadis, Najib?”

National focus should be on the “March to Freedom” ceramah to restore freedom for Anwar Ibrahim on March 7, but attention has now suddenly swerved to whether Najib could survive the Umno divisional leaders’ meeting on March 8.

This is most extraordinary as the UMNO Division Meeting of March 8 is being called to show solidarity and support for Najib and not to ditch him.

Why is there such sudden change of political focus and climate in UMNO?

This is a reflection of the turbulent times in UMNO.

For some time, there had been great pressures on Najib to resign, and the former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad cannot make it clearer when he said in the middle of the month: “If I were PM now, I’d resign”.

However, Najib had ignored these pressures as he seems to be a real paradox – one of the weakest Prime Ministers in Malaysia but a strong UMNO President.

Najib’s weaknesses as Prime Minister are evident from the fact that all his major policy initiatives have proved to be failures, whether 1Malaysia policy, the New Economic Model, National Transformation Programme or the Global Movement of Moderates.

But he has been quite invincible in his power position in UMNO – and there is no way the Prime Minister of Malaysia could be toppled unless the UMNO President could be removed.

So long as he remains untouchable as President of UMNO, he remains untouchable as Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Is there a sudden sea-change in UMNO politics that Najib’s position could suddenly be so vulnerable at the UMNO Divisional Meetings on March 8?

There is no doubt that Najib is facing unprecedented siege, both locally and internationally.

I have never seen an ASEAN mainstream media which had carried such a dismissive and contemptible article about another ASEAN leader as appeared in the recent issue of The Myanmar Times which carried a write-up entitled “Najib’s slow death”, ending with the foreboding forecast that the “omens” for Najib are not good.

Najib’s host of problems, old and new, seem to have come together in a boil, whether the “mother and mother of all financial scandals”, RM42 billion 1MDB scandal; the nine-year-old Altantunya Shaariibuu murder which has returned to haunt Malaysian politics with Sirul at large in Australia ; the fourth-incarceration and five -year jailing of Anwar Ibrahim which has made Malaysia again an international “bad boy” or the embarrssing controversy over Tun Razak’s “inheritance” which has seen public differences between the Prime Minister and his four brothers.

Political developments in UMNO and Malaysia can change so far that what was unthinkable only a month or a week ago could suddenly be possible, as for instance, however improbably as it may seem, the sudden posingn of the question: will 8th March be the Ides of March for Najib?

UMNO is in deep political trouble and this is further reason why UMNO strategists are trying to distract attention from Najib’s and UMNO’s troubles by stepping up their plots to destabilise, divide and destroy the Pakatan Rakyat with the false lure of “UG” (Unity Government between UMNO and PAS) and hudud implementation in Kelantan which explains for the UMNO decision to stay out of the Chempaka state assembly by-election in Kelantan caused by the death of Tuan Guru Nik Aziz.

All Pakatan Rakyat parties must be on the look out for these UMNO plots and counterplots to destabilise, divide and destroy PR for they are only tactics and strategies to save Najib and UMNO and not in the best national interests.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah