READY TO FORM GOVT
says it's possible with BN defections
opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim says he is moving towards
forming a new government with the help of defectors
from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
don't know how soon we can form the new government,
but we are moving in that direction," said the former
Deputy Prime Minister, who was sacked and jailed a decade
comes as the opposition alliance said Anwar's wife,
Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, will be the opposition leader
in Parliament, holding the post until her husband formally
returns to politics.
corruption conviction prevented Anwar from contesting
the elections, but the ban will end in the middle of
Wan Azizah has said during the polls that she was her
husband's proxy. She is expected to vacate her parliamentary
seat after next month so that Anwar can contest a by-election
is expected to win easily and to officially take over
the helm of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).
Wan Azizah is officially the head of PKR, but Anwar
is its de facto leader in his capacity as its adviser.
post of the opposition leader in Parliament was previously
held by the Democratic Action Party (DAP). But in the
recent elections, PKR emerged as the largest opposition
party - winning 31 seats to the 28 for DAP and 23 for
Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).
opposition alliance of PKR, DAP and PAS seized more
than a third of parliamentary seats and four more states
said coalition lawmakers from Malaysia's eastern states
of Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo island had contacted
him to discuss switching sides. The power bloc there
could unseat the government if it changed hands.
MPs from there have come here to see me," Anwar said,
adding that he was in no hurry to become the next Prime
Minister, but that the opposition would already be in
power if the polls had been clean and fair.
am maintaining that if there was no fraud in the election,
we would have won. If we had 2 per cent more votes,
we would have formed the new government," he said.
said Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's future was
in jeopardy and that the ruling United Malays National
Organisation was affected by infighting and looming
has dismissed Anwar's plans and refuted opposition claims
that ruling party members want to defect after the election
debacle. - AGENCIES, 20 March 2008
after the March 8, 2008 general election, Anwar Ibrahim flew
to Sarawak and the following day he stopped over in Sabah
before coming back to Kuala Lumpur. And the two-day flying
visit to these two East Malaysian states was certainly not
to catch up on the latest Iban or Dayak cultural shows. The
three opposition parties had just swept 82 of the 222 Parliament
seats plus now had control over five states and all it needed
was another 30 seats to form a federal government with a simple
majority of 112.
and Sarawak, which have a combined 53 seats in Parliament,
make sense because about 80 per cent of these seats are in
non-Umno Barisan Nasional component members' hands. The opposition
had made little in-roads in East Malaysia or else the opposition
would by now have formed the federal government. One million
'new' voters from Indonesia and the Philippines ensured that
Sabah would not be to PKR what Kelantan is to PAS.
is little love-lost between East Malaysians and Umno. East
Malaysians view Umno as a parti penjajah or a colonialist
party. Many regret the move to allow Umno into Sabah, and
although Umno is not quite in Sarawak yet, the many Umno flags
flying all over the state give the impression that it is a
matter of time before Umno moves into Sarawak as well. This
'visible' presence of Umno makes Sarawakians very nervous
and if they have to leave Barisan Nasional just to keep Umno
out they would do just that.
orang Umno juga tidak suka Umno," said one Sabah warlord who
is an Umno division chief and a Member or Parliament. "Kita
meyertai Umno kerana Umno berkuasa di Sabah tetapi kita harap
Umno akan jatuh supaya kita boleh kembali ke parti asal."
[Translation: "We are Umno members but we dont' like
Umno. We joined Umno because Umno is strong in Sabah but we
hope Umno will fall so that we can continue with our original
sums up the sentiments of even those who can be viewed as
Umno 'strongmen' in Sabah. "Saya mahu bertanding di atas tiket
PKR tetapi Anwar Ibrahim beritahu kami jangan tinggal Umno
untuk sementara waktu. Anwar suruh kami bertanding di atas
tiket Umno dan kemudian, sekiranya pembangkang menang cukup
kerusi, barulah kita keluar Umno dan menyertai pembangkang."
[Translation: "I wanted to stand on the PKR ticket
but Anwar Ibrahim told us not to leave Umno for the time being.
Anwar said to stand on the Umno ticket and later, when the
opposition has won enough seats, then we can leave Umno and
join the opposition."]
is apparent that March 18's Cabinet reshuffle was a
cleansing exercise to rid the party of the Mahathir-Najib
elements. But what this has achieved instead is to create
many powerful enemies within the ranks of Umno who,
before this, stayed low-key for fear of losing their
there were many planned defections before the March 8, 2008
election but Anwar told them to stay put in Umno and Barisan
Nasional and make sure that they win their seats first. Only
if the opposition wins with a large enough minority and all
it needs are those few extra seats to form the government
should they leave the ruling coalition and join the opposition.
was certainly a sound strategy because Sabah and Sarawak can
always play the role of king-maker. And, considering that
Sabah and Sarawak control about 24 per cent of the seats in
Parliament, they would be a most powerful king-maker indeed.
And if Anwar agrees that Malaysia shall have two Deputy Prime
Ministers and one of the two shall be rotated between Sabah
and Sarawak, this would be enticing enough for the 50 odd
Parliamentarians from Sabah and Sarawak to cross-over to the
opposition to enable it to form the new federal government.
and Sarawak are not the only discontented group. Even if just
half the Sabah and Sarawak Members of Parliament cross-over
this would be good enough. Thus far it is rumoured that 23
Barisan Nasional Parliamentarians have already agreed to cross-over.
This means Anwar needs just seven more Parliament seats to
form the federal government. And it will not be that difficult
to find seven discontented Parliamentarians from amongst the
90 or so remaining from Peninsular Malaysia.
job is cut out for him and he does not have to try too hard
to find these discontented Parliamentarians. Umno President
and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is on self-destruct
mode and his own moves are helping Anwar by the day. It makes
one wonder whether Abdullah is intentionally shooting himself
in his foot to make Anwar's life as easy as possible. Could
Abdullah be secretly helping Anwar to take over just so that
another nemesis, previous Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad,
fails in his effort to help Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun
Razak take over?
no secret that Mahathir wants Abdullah out and that he plans
for Najib to take over. It is apparent that March 18's Cabinet
reshuffle was a cleansing exercise to rid the party of the
Mahathir-Najib elements. But what this has achieved instead
is to create many powerful enemies within the ranks of Umno
who, before this, stayed low-key for fear of losing their
positions but now no longer have anything left to hold them
back. Abdullah would have been best-advised to keep his friends
close and his enemies even closer the way Mahathir normally
does. Now, Abdullah has isolated and antagonised his enemies
and has allowed them to regroup into a golongan kecewa
or discontented lot.
to get Mahathir to agree that he takes over from Abdullah
but not with Najib as the number two and as the successor-in-waiting?
This was Tengku Razaleigh's dilemma the last two years
in his long-drawn negotiations with Mahathir.
the run-up to the March 8, 2008 general election, Abdullah
and Najib made a pact whereby 60 per cent of the candidates
will be Abdullah's men while 40 per cent will be Najib's.
Then, on the eve of Nomination Day, Abdullah deviously amended
the candidates' list and kicked out Najib's men. Najib was
caught with his pants down, not to forget Rosmah's twisted
knickers as well.
the golongan kecewa no longer need to pretend that
they support Abdullah just to protect their positions. They
can now openly side with the anti-Abdullah faction. After
all, they have nothing to lose any more, anyway.
Razaleigh Hamzah is not sitting pretty as well. Since 2006,
he has been holding secret meetings with Mahathir to explore
the possibility of getting support from the Grand Old Man
of Malaysian politics in his bid to mount a challenge for
the Umno presidency. Mahathir is not against the idea of Tengku
Razaleigh taking over but he wants Najib to be part of the
equation. Maybe Tengku Razaleigh takes over for one term and
then Najib takes over from there.
is a liability and Tengku Razaleigh does not feel that this
running-mate will augur well for his image. Najib is carrying
just too much baggage which will be very difficult to whitewash.
So, the almost two-year negotiations with Mahathir has not
gone any further than how it first started.
Tengku Razaleigh can, of course, declare Mahathir as irrelevant
and he can mount his bid with or without Mahathir's endorsement.
This is not Tengku Razaleigh though. He would like to mount
his challenge but he would like to do it with Mahathir's blessing.
He may have his differences with Mahathir but he would not
like to belakangkan [leave behind] the man who
has been Prime Minister for 22 years and who was in fact the
founder of Umno Baru, the party that Tengku Razaleigh intends
to take over.
is member No. 1 and his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Ali, member
No. 2 in the members' registration list. This should account
for something. Mahathir, therefore, should not be left out
in determining the new power structure of Umno. How to get
Mahathir to agree that he takes over from Abdullah but not
with Najib as the number two and as the successor-in-waiting?
This was Tengku Razaleigh's dilemma the last two years in
his long-drawn negotiations with Mahathir.
both Anwar and Tengku Razaleigh are fishing in the same
PAS-DAP pond, Anwar will have to look at PKR and the
non-Umno Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament for
support while Tengku Razaleigh will depend on the Umno
Members of Parliament.
time for negotiations has ended. Before the March 8, 2008
general election, Razaleigh had the luxury of time. After
all, the party elections will not be till August 2008. But
the way things are going, Abdullah may not last till August
2008. So Tengku Razaleigh has to move now or else, yet again,
miss the boat.
19, in Kota Bharu, Tengku Razaleigh announced that he is going
to make a bid for the Umno Presidency, which will then automatically
make him the Prime Minister - if Barisan Nasional can hold
on to its 140 seats in Parliament. If he did not make this
announcement then there is a possibility that no less than
30 Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament will cross-over
to the opposition and the Barisan Nasional government will
have to make way for the new Barisan Rakyat government.
is on and the countdown begins. Abdullah may not last till
August 2008. Some have even boldly predicted that Abdullah
may not last 30 days. Whether this is clairvoyance or wishful
thinking we will, of course, know in time. But one thing is
for sure, both Anwar Ibrahim and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah are
in a race to see who will cross the finish line first and
become the new Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Anwar and Tengku Razaleigh are acceptable to PAS and DAP.
PKR, though, would prefer Anwar while many in Umno do not
want to see Anwar become Prime Minister. So while both Anwar
and Tengku Razaleigh are fishing in the same PAS-DAP pond,
Anwar will have to look at PKR and the non-Umno Barisan Nasional
Members of Parliament for support while Tengku Razaleigh will
depend on the Umno Members of Parliament.
crosses the finishing line first with 112 Members of Parliament
wins. And it could be Anwar or it could be Tengku Razaleigh.
If it is Anwar, then Barisan Rakyat will form the new government,
and if it is Tengku Razaleigh, then Barisan Nasional will
remain in office.
earliest possible date for the challenge would be when Parliament
convenes on May 5, 2008. If 112 Members of Parliament support
a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister then the Agong
will have no choice but to appoint a new Prime Minister from
amongst the 222 Members of Parliament. It is as simple as
that. But whether they can get 112 Members of Parliament to
do just that and which of the two, Anwar or Tengku Razaleigh,
would lead that motion of no confidence is something we shall
all have to bite our fingernails and wait to see what happens.
Anwar gets to form the new federal government will all
depend on Tengku Razaleigh. If Tengku Razaleigh makes
his move and appears to have some chance of success,
then the people will wait and see what happens. But
if Tengku Razaleigh does not make his move or appears
to have no chance in hell of toppling Abdullah, then
the people will look to Anwar for this change.
the party members, it will make a a big difference as to whether
Anwar or Tengku Razaleigh heads the new government. To the
non-partisan voters, though, it does not matter which scenario
prevails because both will bring about reforms. Anwar's agenda
for reform is well-documented and does not need to be repeated
here. Tengku Razaleigh, however, is an unknown commodity and
certainly quite an attraction to those who wish for changes
but are not quite ready for a paradigm shift just yet.
just like all mammals, are creatures of habit and are resistant
to change. Sure, the system has failed and it needs changing.
But how much of a change should they risk? Should they go
for an absolute change and take their chances with a Barisan
Rakyat federal government of should they keep Barisan Nasional
in office on condition that there is a leadership change?
want to first see how the five states under opposition control
perform before opting for a complete change. Let them run
these five states for five years and let us see whether we
can trust them with the job of running the country, appears
to be the popular sentiment. Not many are adventurous enough
to dabble with the unknown. And it is not known yet whether
Barisan Rakyat is capable of running the country. So Tengku
Razaleigh as Prime Minister appears to be more comforting
to most Malaysians than an opposition Anwar Ibrahim.
stays on then there would be no choice in the matter. If the
only way to get Abdullah out would be to kick out Barisan
Nasional then so be it. But if there is an alternative, and
if this alternative involves a leadership change within Umno
and Barisan Nasional, and if this new leader is the likes
of Tengku Razaleigh, then this would be a 'gentler' and safer
change than a paradigm shift.
Anwar gets to form the new federal government will all depend
on Tengku Razaleigh. If Tengku Razaleigh makes his move and
appears to have some chance of success, then the people will
wait and see what happens. But if Tengku Razaleigh does not
make his move or appears to have no chance in hell of toppling
Abdullah, then the people will look to Anwar for this change.
And that is why, on March 19, Tengku Razaleigh was forced
to announce his decision to challenge Abdullah. Now, Tengku
Razaleigh has offered Malaysians two options instead of just
one, Anwar Ibrahim. If Tengku Razaleigh had kept quiet and
had waited until August to make his move, it may be too late.
By then Anwar may already be the new Prime Minister of Malaysia.
And as for Najib, well, he can always lead the Barisan Nasional
golongan kecewa club which has grown very large indeed.
The above article was posted on www.malaysia-today.net (Your
source of independent news). Raja Petra Kamarudin started
the Malaysia Today website and his blog to facilitate open
discussion on Malaysia's political and social scenes. A relative
of a former Malaysian King from Selangor and known for his
hard-hitting commentaries, which are often infused with humour,
Raja Petra is also the author of When
Time Stood Still and From
Prince To Prisoner.
Other articles by Raja Petra:
Between Reality And Perception
The Aftermath Of The 'Bloodbath'
Why We Are Voting Tomorrow
Guarding An Empty Field