More than two years ago I posted The real Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, where I wrote:
I believe there’s an unjustified dismissal of Badawi as a weak and indecisive leader, one not in commanding control of UMNO. This is unfortunately an incorrect and dangerous perception of him, of which I too had been equally guilty of. Many merely consider him as an interim UMNO leader of limited tenure. I am not an expert on UMNO but as an interested observer I have since changed my mind about Badawi after some reflection. I now entertain an entirely different impression of him as PM [and UMNO No 1].
I went on to described AAB as a shrewd cunning person who says little but achieves much for himself. I wrote:
Rather than just dismiss his decision to remain in UMNO as typical of a passive bloke - instead of joining the disastrous Ku Li’s Semangat 46 - …….. one should actually consider that as due to his brilliant strategic assessment.
Sitting there patiently in unobtrusive manner he inched his way back into Mahathir’s favour and actually won one of UMNO’s Vice Presidency positions. That could only have come about as a result of his developing and consolidating a strong power base and factional alliances in UMNO. It must be all that more striking when we consider he achieved such a power base during a period of Anwar Ibrahim’s expanding influence and ascendancy in UMNO.
… it … highlighted … Badawi’s amazing political resurrection to become the Prime Minister of Malaysia, despite him being earlier on Team B, an astonishing party career achievement unattained by Ku Li, Musa Hitam, or Anwar Ibrahim. And Mahathir’s obligatory or obligated protégé, Najib Razak has to still wait in the wing, subordinated to Badawi.
Today as I read Malaysiakini, I see columnists Ong Kian Ming and Onn Yeoh probably making the same mistake as we had done 2 years ago, underestimating AAB. In their article Why doesn't Pak Lah fight back? they wrote:
… we have an embattled prime minister who has opted to remain in 'elegant silence' mode even as his nemesis goes all out to topple him. Yes, we are talking about Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Dr Mahathir Mohamad, respectively. […]
It's hard to comprehend why he doesn't just come out swinging. It would not be too difficult for him as the prime minister to ask the Anti-Corruption Agency, which comes under his purview, to investigate the various alleged misdeeds of Mahathir during his 22 years in power. If Abdullah can't remember or is not aware of what those alleged misdeeds are, there are at least 82 members of parliament who would be more than happy to help compile a long laundry list for him.
Well, point No 1 (about using the ACA) – ever heard of the term ‘Omerta’? That’s why!
Additionally, there’s a Chinese saying about “Never sh*tting on your own doorstep.” And to cap it all off, the Mat Salleh advises “People who live in glass houses janganlah buang batu.”
Point No 2 (about 82 KPCs or kay-poh-chnee’s) – surely Ong and Onn must be kidding - all the ‘elegant silence’ and survival skills of AAB wouldn’t save him if he resorts to such opposition help to destroy a former UMNO leader with a standing of 22 years leadership. He’ll be hated not only by die-hard UMNO-istas but also the greater Malay community for such treachery.
First of all, I reckon Ong and Onn in their analysis have used only western logic but failed to consider the important Malay factor. AAB is a man steeped in Malay tradition. I am inclined to think he’s the consummate Malay politician, quiet, courteous, and at times a wee condescending but a master of 'palace intrigues'. I wonder whether he's the type who will stick a keris into your side while reciting a pantun, something along this line:
Langit dah gelap, cuaca pun marah,
Angin bertiup kuat dan ganggu abu
Jangan khuatir saudara kalau basah
Bukan kerana hujan, hanya darahmu
Ong and Onn might have make the mistake of thinking AAB is too complacent, totally unaware that Anwar, Najib and a fiery Dr M all have a common aim, to remove him.
Well, so far he has outmanoeuvred each and every one of them, in the same quiet unobtrusive way that he has achieved what Ku Li, Musa Hitam, Anwar Ibrahim and Najib couldn’t, becoming PM.
He has kept Dr M on the outer since he became PM, much to the chagrin of the former PM, to such an extent that the latter, out of utter frustration, has resorted to an unthinkable resignation from UMNO as the ultimate ante ….. and which, if I may be so bold as to say, is fast fizzling out.
AAB is still PM, and Najib and Anwar each waits (maybe forever in vain) in the shade of each wing.
And post tsunamic election, AAB has made several gestures that even have his critics believing he could even be a closeted reformist ha ha ha - eat your heart out, Anwar Ibrahim! Some, unbelievably lawyers, have even praised him. I see him slowly doling out the lollies to the critics hungry for reformist crumbs.
Sometimes I get the feeling that AAB and not his SIL has been the master puppeteer, pretending and allowing the curses and blame to reach the 4th Floor, while he smile in elegant smugness, slyness and satisfaction while allowing the rowdy inelegant world to believe he is the ‘fool’ …
… when in reality he has fooled all of us … ;-)