On Sunday I posted Elegant Silence Elicits Suspicions where I noted AAB finally discarded his so-called ‘elegant’ silence to mention a few humble words about his relationship with Mahathir (AAB admitted that he was the one who sought a friendly meeting with the old man in Japan) and at the same time disavow that his son-in-law was running the country for him.
I remarked I had believed, and I still do, that AAB made those long overdue and very grudging response to a number of allegations against him, not because he discovered a new-found commitment to public accountability, but more to offset adverse political factors within UMNO bearing on him.
By breaking his silence, he was addressing UMNO rather than the general Malaysian public. He realised by then his arrogant silence was disturbing UMNO members about his leadership, the alleged influence of his son-in-law and the vexed question of whether national sovereignty has been, as Dr Mahathir alleged, sold off to a foreign power.
Nothing like a little xenophobia to stir UMNO members up. One thing’s for sure, the ole man knew which Malay button to press.
There’s no doubt AAB has been badly shaken. His advisors had made it worse by attempting to embargo UMNO people from the former PM – first, UMNO Kelantan was forced to cancel an earlier invitation to Dr Mahathir, then UMNO clubs in London were told not to meet the former PM (though the act-dunno denials have just emerged), and now UMNO Selangor has been told to cancel a dinner where Dr Mahathir would be the guest of honour.
Mr Opposition agrees with me, when he commented to Malaysiakini that the second round of the political tussle between AAB and Dr Mahathir will be probably the most important and decisive one. Lim Kit Siang believes that this coming round will determine whether the Abdullah premiership will last the full distance.
He pronounced: “This is because it is the battle for the hearts and minds of UMNO which will decide the tenure and duration of Abdullah’s leadership.”
Precisely what I had said in my Sunday posting, Elegant Silence Elicits Suspicions.
Lim said that he understood Mahathir has been invited to officiate at several UMNO divisional general meetings next month. This is bad news for AAB because he would find it difficult to cancel divisional general meetings.
Lim warned that if AAB failed to realise the grave challenge posed to his premiership and allows the impression he cannot satisfactorily respond to the challenge, his fragile hold on UMNO’s loyalties will be broken.
Rumours of the powerful “Fourth Floor” of the PM’s office haven't help, as those UMNO top officials, who feel they themselves may be marginalised by the callow cabal, may decide to throw their lot in with the anti-AAB camp, not necessarily Dr Mahathir’s.
Could this be the reason that a large number of UMNO ministers including Najib didn’t turn up to greet AAB when he returned from abroad recently, as indicated by Malaysiakini reader Kim Quek?
Kim stated: "In fact, the moment of decision for Najib (to challenge or not to challenge Abdullah) may be nearer than most people think, judging from the unusual events that took place over the past few days."
"On July 15, Saturday at 9 pm, PM Abdullah’s plane touched down at the Subang air force base, returning him from an 18-day overseas holiday. On hand to receive him were the top guns of the MCA (president Ong Ka Ting, his deputy and ministers) but not the top guns of Umno. Conspicuously absent was deputy president Najib, who until then had been in the habit of receiving Abdullah at the airport from his overseas trips in recent months." […]
"The gives rise to an intriguing question. This tussle of power between the present and former leader of Umno is publicly staged as Umno’s internal affair, and Abdullah’s current home-coming after a long leave at this crucial moment was supposed to be a special occasion for Umno to make a big demonstration of support and solidarity with the incumbent leader."
"So is it not strange that on hand to welcome Adullah were not Umno’s top leaders but the MCA’s? What good reasons could there be for Najib and the other top Umno ministers to be absent for the welcoming party?"
"And even more queer is Najib’s flight to London the very next day - a Sunday - well, before his boss could return to office and resume his duties. Surely Najib could hang on for a few more days more to update his boss after such a long absence?"
Intriquing observations and questions!
Then also, could this be the reason that Anwar Ibrahim may be taking two bites of the cherry, by prevaricating over the UN Sec-Gen’s position, though not rejecting it outright? Has there been feelers sent out to 'recruit' him as a hired gun and ally?
Dr Mahathir’s pebble of sand in the Johor Straits has caused more than ripples, in fact a political tsunami for Malaysia in general, and AAB in particular.
I am going to say it again, given the all powerful UMNO's strangle-hold on Malaysian politics, only an internal UMNO threat can shake up an UMNO minister.