“Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold, but so does a hard-boiled egg.”
That’s the story of AAB.
Today he announced his intention not to contest UMNO party’s presidency, effectively announcing his stepping down from the premiership in March 2009, but he couldn’t resist taunting Najib with a taste of the latter’s medicine, that it’s up to the party members to elect the next party president.
In Malaysiakini PM not contesting, to quit in March AAB was reported to have remarked:
"At some point I will have to hand over to my successor. Why do I say 'at some point'? It is because Najib will have to win the party election first. Once he has won, then we can discuss (the transition)."
AAB came with a lot of promise but alas, as CS Lewis said about the eggy thing: “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
Yes, unless one produces results, as a PM should for the people, he would be out pretty pronto. The late Tunku suffered that fate (though he was ‘helped’ along the way out by his deputy).
AAB won the general election in 2004 by a landslide, and almost wiped out PKR but for a mere hundred votes or so. But 4 years later, his BN lost 4 States and its two-thirds majority in federal Parliament.
Strangely he achieved the above BN disasters while being, by comparison to his predecessor, a reasonably liberal PM.
His critics see him as indecisive, and his enemies propagated his image as one not unlike two of Snow White’s dwarves, namely Dopey and Sleepy.
There’s no doubt he had leaned too heavily on his children’s advice which might have been devious but lacked the strength, subtlety, and slyness of the politically crafty, a hallmark of earlier UMNO leaders (except for Hussein Onn).
In the end he paid the ultimate price for accepting those bad advice.
Additionally he had the bad luck to earn Dr M’s wrath, in major part because of his children.
He also had the equally bad luck to lead Malaysia into an unstable world’s economic situation.
He might have survived all these if he hadn’t suffered the ignominy of losing 4 States and the BN 2/3 parliamentary majority. Whatever support he had enjoyed within UMNO was eroded overnight when the grand olde party went into shock, with its members realizing the once unthinkable, the prospect of spending a few many years in opposition politics.
Dr M, once-marginalized by UMNO, began to regain his influence as frantic, panicky and hysterical UMNO members look around for a saviour to save them from what they believe to be their impending political doom.
Poor Anwar, how he must have loved to take charge, but apart from UMNO's old factional interests, there were far too many new interests in the party. Thousands of bridges had been crossed in the last ten years, bringing about new landscapes, new alliances and new party factions, and very very few UMNO members wanted Anwar back for a variety of reasons.
But AAB had not only allowed the March 2008 tsunamic disaster to occur on his beat, he had been in large part responsible for it. As one silly example, he had permitted the overly ambitious ones in his party to publicly rail bigotry against his BN partners and their supporters.
That might have been good for gaining internal party support but defintely a strange way of expecting the same 2004 Malaysian support, particularly from the Chinese and Indians.
Sadly, he didn’t have the character, personality nor the inclination to slap those bigots down. But apart from his personality, how could he do so when his own SIL had resorted to badmouthing the Chinese to divert attention from his (SIL’s) unusual and fortuitous but unexplained investment.
Then he overreacted (no doubt through bad advice) against the Hindraf rally, and for what?
Those people were marching towards the British High Commission to lodge a grandstanding and symbolic claim against the British colonial government (not Malaysian government!) for the former's shameful neglect of the Indians and their descent into the community's current woeful economic predicament.
What would have happened if the rally had been permitted to continue untouched, unmolested and unhindered?
We would never know because, but I personally believe this, the unnecessary heavy-handed brutalities against Hindraf protestors had been the last straw on the Malaysian camel’s back. It wasn’t just the Indians who were outraged – most Malaysians (save the most dedicated BN supporters) made a firm and committed political decision to vote against the BN.
We could tear him apart in our analysis but suffice to say, he didn’t become the PM we had expected him to be, the Bao Gong redux.
To end this post I present two more egg quotations:
"Love and eggs are best when they are fresh" - Russian proverb, to which I say 'in 2004 the AAB egg was still fresh, but now it’s 2008!', and ...
"An egg is always an adventure; the next one may be different" - Oscar Wilde