Tuesday, July 25, 2006

UMNO Leadership Split?

I suspect either Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang or some reporter in Malaysiakini has been reading KTemoc Konsiders ;-)

Yesterday I posted Defiant Sports Minister Snubbed PM?, where I mentioned that Azalina Othman Said, Sports Minister had rudely snubbed PM AAB’s diplomatic hint to her to drop off the proposed sports complex in UK.

AAB stated that the Brits weren’t going to let any new infrastructure development occur at the TARRC site because it was gazetted as a heritage site. But she was defiant in pursuing the formation of the sports centre outside London.

What could possibly lead a junior minister to snub and defy the PM?

Then this morning I read another news item (I’ll discuss below) that I believe might just explain the deliberate sign of rebellion by Azalina. But before I could leave the office to indulge in a bit of blogging, Malaysiakini jumped ahead of me by publishing a statement by Lim Kit Siang who analysed the why’s and wherefore’s of the politically-rambo Azalina.

Lim said Azalina’s behaviour raised eyebrows as it is an ‘open defiance’ of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Sheesh, Lim even used my word ‘defiance’. Lim sinseh, this is sheer plagiarism ;-)

Then Lim said what I said, that AAB was dismissing the project in a diplomatic manner. Lim described it as a “very diplomatic face-saving way out”.

Well, we know from my posting yesterday that Azalina said her ministry will pursue the project despite the objections because blah blah blah … and that the Finance Ministry has the last say on the matter as it is a government project. By the by, isn’t AAB also the Finance Minister?

Lim asked “why was such public disassociation from the prime minister’s statement so urgent that Azalina could not wait until the next meeting of the cabinet committee on sports in September to seek guidance?”

He suggested: “Very complex factors and forces, which have nothing to do with raising Malaysian sports to international standards, seem to be at work.”

“In fact, there are those who wonder whether the sports complex will mark the first cabinet split and revolt in the Abdullah premiership.”

Then Lim went on to demand that Azalina come clean with the cost and the money already spent in the feasibility and other studies, and what have been planned for the short, mid and long term developments, and how the eight ‘core sports’ - squash, hockey, badminton, football, aquatics, athletics, bowling and gymnastics - will benefit Malaysians.

Remember I had averred that Azalina’s plan to ‘share facilities’ with the rubber people would only satisfy the administrative aspects of the complex. Those 8 core sports would require training facilities like swimming pools, athletic and football fields and ball courts, etc. How would these be achieved if the Brits say bugger off?

But Lim missed a very important news item in this morning’s Star Online, where none other than DPM, Najib Razak, who chairs the Cabinet committee on sports, spoke out in support of Azalina. He stated that the concept of the centre had been approved but details have yet to be worked out.

He said: “The proposal is under the 9th Malaysia Plan. No amount has been approved by the Cabinet committee pending our discussion with the Finance Ministry.”

“We will only allow an amount that is considered reasonable. Don’t worry, when we decide, we will take into account the people’s views.”

However, to be fair, Najib reiterated the PM’s statement last week that the Government would wait for the decision of the British authorities before making a decision.

While this seems logical, the fact that he supported Azalina who defied the PM would be read as a subtle split in cabinet solidarity. In traditional Malay court verbal manoeuvres, a hint is as solid and pointed as Hang Tuah’s Taming Sari. Then, there’s the 'Najib' known for his soft and ready compliance with his boss. His open support of Azalina against the PM has been unprecedented.

Read it anyway you like, but what we have here may be the first sign of an UMNO top level rift, in all the traditional subtle shadow play of Malay court intrigues.

High Noon for AAB?


  1. This is not the matter of RM 490 Million. It is the sign of retaliation of NTR already. He wants to crush agriculture, i.e rubber (Lah's pet project) and build his legacy (under his father's name) overseas.

    Those Brits must be in a dilemma now. Like their Malaysian counterpart, they are not sure which horse to bet . But with the headlines such as 'Half-past-six', 'No guts' and 'He is not my first choice', I guess you pretty much know the answer already. ;)

    Will the 'whom-shall-not-be-named' stand up?

  2. all 4 threads coming together - let's hope they don't burn the country in the process