JUNE 15 – Umno’s party election is around the corner and rumour is swirling that Najib Razak presidency might be challenged this time by the prominent Tengku Razaleigh who once almost defeated Mahathir Mohamad - a turn of event which would have definitely rewritten the history of Malaysia. Prior to the emergence of the Tengku Razaleigh’s rumour, there were already rumours that there might be a symbolic challenge for presidency among lesser known candidates and that Muhyiddin Yassin might also mount a challenge against his boss when he refused to deny his ambition for the Umno’s leadership.
Unsurprisingly, it was Mahathir who started the ball rolling by casting doubt on the leadership of Najib immediately after the GE13 by suggesting that Umno would have to make a stand to decide the fate of Najib. Subsequently he opined that Najib’s leadership might not be challenge because there was lack of alternative within Umno. The “lack of alternative” insinuation by Mahathir highlighted the massive gap of influence between Najib and the rest of the probable candidates in Umno which in turn shed some light on how Najib strengthen his own influence in the past couple of years.
One of the most interesting points on the GE13 was how Najib Razak ran the BN campaign in the manner of the US presidential election. The whole BN campaign was almost entirely on him. His popularity had consistently exceeded that of BN by almost 20% throughout period polled up to the election. The more interesting question is - was the style of general election campaign ingeniously planned to strengthen Najib’s own position in Umno too?
It is noteworthy in the GE11, Abdullah Badawi’s election performance was one of the best in BN’s history, having won 198 out of 220 seats in parliament but come GE12, he made history again by leading BN to the worst election results. It is plausible that the huge swing of vote within just two elections was due to the devastation of hope of the people for real reform post Mahathir era. Bear in mind that Mahathir’s skin was saved by the Chinese in the GE10 election when the Malays revolted against BN due to the Anwar Ibrahim saga. Consequently, Mahathir was forced to step down due to the immense pressure from within Umno after losing the Malay base. He also lost the trust of the Chinese immediately after the GE10 when he betrayed his promise on Suqiu and attacked the Chinese as communists.
When Abdullah took over, it was akin to a new dawn for Malaysia after Mahathir outstayed his welcome. At last, new dawn was proven to be a false dawn when no real reform was enforced. The rest for Abdullah was history. When Najib took over the helm from Abdullah, he was inherited with the weakest BN coalition in the history. There was no guarantee that he would perform better in the GE13. Keeping that in mind and the tendency of the hawking disposition of the Unmo warlords who would not bat an eyelid in doing a Brutus when they scent blood, Najib, a good salesman of perception himself might have decided to fortify his position by creating an icon of himself, camouflaged with a general election campaign ala the US presidency campaign style.
During the Mahathir era, all the 3 presidents of BN largest component parties namely Umno, MCA and MIC had owed their longevity in grip on the presidency by evolving everything around themselves and systematically obliterating the influence of their second-in-commands. The rise in influence of Anwar proved to be the catalyst to Mahathir’s downfall and Abdullah had probably failed to consider a contingency plan for his own survival as Umno president before GE12.
The preposition of Najib’s campaign style is merely hypothetical but one fact that is casted in stone after the GE13 is the demise of Mahathir’s influence in the eyes of the voters. His influence perhaps is only prevalent within Umno now. Most observers conveniently forgot the chronicle of events that led the longest serving prime minister of Malaysia to voluntarily relinquish his position a decade ago – a very uncharacteristic decision considering his love for power.
Mahathir on the other hand had skillful played along with the general misreading. When BN lost unprecedentedly under Abdullah in GE12, Mahathir took all the credit as the kingmaker for his public disapproval of Abdullah during the election campaign. Curiously, no one considered how the stepping down of Mahathir had actually contributed to Abdullah’s landslide in the prior election. Now that the GE13 in which Mahathir campaigned rigorously had yielded the worst results for BN, it is much clearer that he was a liability to BN all along more than he wished to admit.
* conspiracytheor1st reads The Malaysian Insider.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.