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Friday, June 21, 2013

SUARAM URGENT ARREST TEAM Black505 622 rally Padang Merbok

Attached is the Suaram’s urgent arrest team for 22 June 2013. We have given our name and contact numbers.

This what we want you to do:

If you see or witness anyone being arrested at your respective place, please send SMS to the number that given.






4 SOGO THEVA 013 3845740

5 JALAN PUDU PETER 0129059948

You only have to type: a. Name b. IC Number/passport number c. Phone number d. Police station that the person being taken to or detained

SUARAM will send the SMS to the lawyers as well as to the our person in charge in office. You may also call our office and you can talk to Miss Diane and please give details to her.

Dont get panic when you being arrested by the police or being stopped by the DBKL. All you need to do is CALM DOWN and SMS US!

Thank you

Released by,

Nalini Elumalai

On behalf of SUARAM Team

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Opposition’s new mandate

By Nurul Izzah Anwar | TMI

Thousands of Malaysians voted abroad during the 13th general election. Many more returned from Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, London and Taiwan, traditionally places with large numbers of Malaysians, to exercise their right to suffrage on May 5th.

This is a peculiar phenomenon.

Why do Malaysians who have found greener pastures abroad feel compelled to return to the country to cast their ballot? This certainly goes against the thesis of Albert O. Hirshman — who argued in a famous treatise in 1970 that when people have the chance to leave, they will, especially if they have found the entity to be increasingly dysfunctional and inefficient.

Malaysia, or rather its government, over the last few decades, has certainly manifested such features.

Concurrently, those who decided to ‘stay back’ would attempt to improve the country by voicing out. Be that as it may, those who have left the country are not expected to express their voices anymore let alone to vote. Yet, vote they did.

The quick and short answer to the above phenomenon is that they care. Indeed, not only do they care about the future of their immediate and extended families still in Malaysia, but they care about Malaysia, period.

And that is where Malaysia draws its greatest pride from — Malaysians and their sense of belonging, of camaraderie.

Beyond caring, they also know, through their collective exposure in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, if not as far away as United Kingdom, Japan and Australia, that Malaysia has been back-pedaling, especially on issues like corruption and crime let alone in building a vibrant democracy.

Take corruption, for example. The national debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio at 54 per cent, it is one per cent shy of the constitutional limit; and this figure is a conservative estimate. When one lumps in the debt of the government linked companies (GLCS), often with the element of corruption still at work, the ratio is easily in the range of the mid-70s.

While many do not like to use the B word (i.e. bankcruptcy), the next generation is expected to foot the financial profligacy of the present one. Malaysians abroad share the same concern and anxieties with those at home.

Not surprisingly, up 75 to 85 per cent of the voters abroad, almost without fail, voted for the opposition according to exit polls.

Like the 51 per cent of the people in Malaysia, they chose to throw their lot with Pakatan Rakyat, this despite the fact that Pakatan Rakyat did not have any offices or representatives outside the country.

In fact, one may even wonder if they did so purely to register their disgust with Barisan National, rather than due to any objective attachment to Pakatan Rakyat; a trend that was discernible across all racial groups in urban areas from 2008 onwards.

Even in rural places ostensibly ‘won’ by the government, the establishment is not out of the woods, if ever they can be, due to their indulgent attitude to corruption and sheer exploitation of the natural resources that impacts rural communities directly.

My PAS colleague, Dr Dzukefly Ahmad, noted in a Malay op-ed that of the 11 constituencies with Dayak majority in Sarawak, all of them had experienced a dip of 10 per cent or more in the votes for the government.

This is unprecedented in areas that are customarily the vote banks of the state government. Thus, if Sabah and Sarawak are the ‘fixed deposit’ of the government, the yield is only decreasing, not enlarging.

Yet, this election, has allowed a minority government to be in Putrajaya, the seat of the Malaysian government. Like many in the country and abroad, the opposition is not so much shocked as it is outraged by the ‘enforced limitations’ of the electoral system; some of which are now being legally challenged by Pakatan Rakyat.

The limitations were ‘enforced’ because the Electoral Commission, which was under the Prime Minister’s Office, failed to reform the electoral system in the more than four years available ahead of the recent 13th general election, the ‘disappearing’ indelible ink fiasco included.

Electoral reforms were all the more imperative after repeated rounds of feedbacks from non-governmental groups like Bersih I, II, III, Tindak and Transparency International. But, whether by design or default, they chose to sit tight indifferent to the loud calls for free and fair elections. Even to the extent of allowing tainted electoral rolls to remain on the register, especially in my constituency that is Lembah Pantai.

In moments like these, it is easy to hate the arbitrary nature and high-handedness of the ruling government too. This is all the more the case when the ruling establishment, once again, is showing signs of attempting to remain in power on the sly.

Instead of seeking ‘national reconciliation’ advocated by the Prime Minister, the very first things that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Inspector General Police did was to arrest opposition figures and dissidents. A dragnet was imposed on those who spoke out against the unfairness of the election.

Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, the co-chairperson of Bersih, was right to affirm that “the government has been using words (such as national reconciliation), which it doesn’t even understand”; this when the Prime Minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is also a patron to a Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMMF) whose rhetoric is not even echoed by his own immoderate party at home.

But Malaysians near and abroad must not fall into the temptation of blind hate, just as I am reminding myself too. To do so would be to stoop to the level of extreme jingoistic and mirror the narrative of such rabid malicious press like Utusan Malaysia – the UMNO mouthpiece.

On the other hand, Pakatan Rakyat’s demand for substantive action such as the immediate removal of the Election Commission’s leadership before participating in the Prime Minister’s offer of a Parliamentary Select Committee to manage the Election Commission, which now falls under the Prime Minister’s Department will test the government’s readiness for reforms.

Indeed, revamping the Electoral Commission is urgently needed, especially on boundary redelineation which have to be completed over the next two years which once again will determine the next election’s fairness.

Beyond electoral petitions and all, the opposition has to govern well in Selangor and Penang, too, without which they would not be able to arrest the growing skepticism of politicians emerging through out the country.

Pakatan Rakyat will continue to push for legislative reform in Parliament, as we have done since Malaysians gave us their mandate. The opposition mandate is to stay vigilant, alert and efficient, even as it is confronting a set of legal electoral challenges. Failure is not an option in the face of an increasingly hawkish and change-resistant minority government of Barisan National.

Indeed our march of history towards democracy will go on even if it is slightly bumpy, facing temporary roadblocks. For a mandate is still a mandate and should be the fodder for continued fortitude, determination and sacrifice for greater democracy in Malaysia.

Nurul Izzah Anwar is the MP for Lembah Pantai and a PKR vice-president.

Utusan merrily digging Umno’s grave!

By Ahmad Mustapha Hassan | TMI

At one time Malaysia enjoyed a free press. The printed media then competed to let readers know the truth of what was happening in the country.

None was directly or indirectly aligned to any political interests or groups. The reports were not biased or tilted to favour any one group. It was a real pleasure and joy to read the newspapers then. The news was never manipulated to please anyone.

The owners of the papers did not interfere in the editorial policies of their papers as the editors running the editorial departments were all professionals in their approach towards news writing. They reported what happened without fear or favour.

The venerable Straits Times of course, during the colonial era was very much pro-British but it was done in a very subtle manner. Readers would know that certain stories were written as being pro-British but not done in such a crude manner as to create animosity towards any quarter.

The editors were well experienced and even though the writings were slanted towards protecting British interests, they still maintained some decorum in the style and manner of writing.

And as for the vernacular papers, Utusan Melayu was one of the oldest that came into being. It was established in the late 1930′s by highly motivated personalities who wanted to nurture nationalist feelings among the Malays. And it was established in Singapore, a British colonial settlement or the Straits Settlement as these Malayan British colonies were known.

Its first editor-in-chief was Yusoff Ishak who later became the first President of independent Singapore. Journalists of great calibre helmed the paper, including the likes of Rahim Kajai, Ishak Haji Mohammad and Samad Ismail. The paper played its role very well and backed all Malay groups towards establishing a major political party.

The culmination of the role played by Utusan was the establishment of Umno in 1946. There was one well known Malay daily in Kuala Lumpur known as Majlis. It was established in the 1930′s but was not a daily. It was more leftist in nature as most of the editors had leftist tendencies like Ibrahim Yaacob and Osman Kalam. They did not mince their words in condemning the British. They supported the Malay Nationalist Party, the first Malay political party which was banned by the British.

The paper did not survive and thus only Utusan remained as the main news provider. Eminent journalists like Said Zahari, Melan Abdullah, Osman Abadi and Mazlan Nordin were at one time editors-in-chief of the paper. They set very high standards of professionalism.

Said Zahari, in fact, opposed the paper from being the tool of Umno but finally Umno came to own Utusan. But still the journalists at that time were not influenced by partisan politics and the paper never showed outwardly that it was pro-Umno or that it was the mouthpiece of the party.

A newspaper needs to be credible in its reports so that truth stands out. Readers need to know what actually happened so that they would be able to reach their own conclusions as to the state of the matter.

Journalism in it itself has its own code of ethics. In a nutshell, this code involves truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability. Only when these principles are practiced, would the paper enjoy the confidence of the readers.

Papers can support certain groups or parties but they must balance their reports by incorporating these rules to ensure fairness and objectivity.

British papers are known to support either Labour or the Conservatives but their reports are not crude as to cast shame on their journalistic ethics.

Utusan, after having been bought by Umno, had in the beginning performed with much credibility as the journalists helming the paper at that time still observed the journalistic ethics.

But when new editorial teams took over they started going overboard by trying to prove to Umno that they were in full support of the party. They thus discarded all the noble values of objective reporting that was required to make the reports newsworthy and trustworthy. They had become completely an “HMV”, his master’s voice.

Thus, they no longer practiced good and proper journalism. By twisting the news like their recent report on the reduction in the price of cars it has cast untold damage to the paper.

This is not the only case. Utusan had also been summoned on numerous occasions by those who felt that there had been misreporting about them. And Utusan had lost quite a number of suits against them.

The original Umno had died in 1986 and the present party is Umno Baru. The way the current editorials and news reports are put out by Utusan will not do any good at all to the party. It will simply backfire and the more Utusan twists and creates news to favour Umno, the more harm it will do to Umno Baru.

If Utusan still wants to practise this kind of journalism, it only means it is helping to dig Umno Baru’s grave. Utusan helped in the birth of the original Umno but the current Utusan, from the looks of it, is helping to bury Umno Baru.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

UNITY GOVERNMENT - winners & losers

By Murray Hunter | Malaysia Chronicle

With the perceived weakening of Najib Razak’s position of tenure as Malaysian Prime Minister, there is deep speculation within the country about moves afoot to form a national unity government.

Since the Barisan National’s re-election on May 5, there has been a distinct shift in stance towards ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ or Malay privilege, at the cost of 1Malaysia inclusive philosophy. There is now little talk about the Government Transformation Program, and after a relaxed stance towards rallies by the opposition, authorities are now taking stern action towards Anwar Ibrahim’s 505 movement with mass arrests of demonstrators over the weekend. Even Najib’s calls to make UMNO more inclusive has aggravated many within his party.

According to political pundits, Najib Razak is still prime minister, only because there is currently no other creditable and popular figure who could take the mantle of leadership away from him.

If we go back to pre-May 5 feeling in the community, there was great anticipation that an era of change was about to sweep the country. There was excitement on the streets with an almost carnival atmosphere. But the result on election night disappointed so many people, where denial and claims of massive cheating showed that many refused to accept the result. This has left the country just as divided as it was before the election. Nothing was settled and politicking rather than governance is dominating the national narrative. Anwar Ibrahim is pushing the Government into a corner with his national 505 tour disputing the election result which seems to be directly challenging Najib to take action against him.

Today’s political situation is of concern to many of Malaysia’s top echelon of businesspeople, politicians, civil servants, and even members of the Royal Families. There is a strong feeling amongst the country’s elite that Malaysia needs good governance rather than politicking. Many are very sympathetic to the concept of a national unity government, as a solution to this impasse, as it appears any election will not bring a harmonious result the nation requires. The idea of a national unity government is not without any precedent, as PAS was once a member of the BN back in the early 1970s.

Some feel that although the BN won through the first-past-the-post electoral system, the Pakatan Rakyat’s higher popular vote justifies the opposition having some say in government. For these people, a unity government would restore moderate policies and narrative, and keep ‘ultra-ism’ in check. Some within UMNO, see the possibility of a national unity government as a means to maintain UMNO’s long term survival, as the party to many Malays is an icon of political history and development. UMNO’s participation in a national unity government would act as pressure for internal reform, something many members want.

From Anwar Ibrahim’s PKR party, there are many, particularly those ex-UMNO members that see the party’s participation in a national unity government would give it the legitimacy it needs to survive in the long term past the persona of Anwar Ibrahim. They want PKR to stand on its own two feet without the ‘Anwar personality cult’.

PAS has been reluctantly romanced by UMNO many times over the years, but the party may favorably consider the concept of a national unity government under certain conditions. Many just feel that it’s time to stop talking about race and religion, and address the real needs of the country.

If one looked through the blogs and even the mainstream media over the weekend, so many different scenarios and numbers have been canvassed. Two speculative scenarios exist. One involving Premier Najib himself and the other with a move by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah or Ku Li as he is known.

The first option would involve Premier Najib Bin Razak making a move to bring in parties from the Pakatan Rakyat into the government, as has been spasmodically mooted over the last few years. Such a move would probably ensure UMNO with a much brighter future electorally. This would stall the Muhyiddin Yassin and Mahathir forces, and if completed smoothly, would sure up Najib’s position as President of UMNO in the coming October elections. Such a move would also allow Najib to change the narrative from the ‘ultraist’ direction it is going, to a more moderate and inclusive one. Such an achievement could elevate Najib in status, which might create a very positive legacy for him.

However this move would also seal the fate of the MCA, Gerakan, and maybe even the MIC, as they are tossed aside for the DAP, PAS, and PKR.

The probability of any national unity government would hold many outstanding issues which must be solved before it could happen. This would include policies and corruption, where it is rumored the new minister in the PM’s office Paul Low is shocked by the extent of waste and corruption within government. Determining a way for all parties to work through these issues could be big stumbling blocks to any potential agreement.

The biggest problem with any potential formation of a national unity government would be that any initiative by Najib may lack the persuasion and statesmanship needed to pull of such a big coup. His track record has been a very passive one during his tenure as prime minister, especially since the May 5 election. The formation of a national unity government would take a massive amount of negotiation and convincing to all parties, including the UMNO party membership. To date Najib hasn’t shown that he has got what it takes in this area.

The Tengku Razaleigh option has been gathering much speculation over the last few days, and there is a difference in the stories circulating as to whether Ku Li may make a bid for the UMNO party presidency, or seek to move a no confidence motion in the Prime Minister during the first day of Parliament sitting. His discussions with members of parliament from both sides fuels speculation about the latter. Ku Li is reported to be meeting political leaders in Sabah and Sarawak who are disillusioned with Najib for not appointing them to the Federal cabinet. Moreover they feel let down with the solid performance that they achieved in support of the BN with little reward to Sabah and Sarawak. Finally they have concerns about how a weakened BN will be able to govern effectively. Although there is much wishful thinking about this scenario, such a dramatic seizure of power doesn’t seem to be Ku Li’s modus operandi.

So what are the realistic chances that a national unity government could occur sometime in the near future?

A meeting between Najib Bin Razak and Anwar Ibrahim, although denied by Anwar, was reported to have taken place at the Istana Presiden Indonesia in Jakarta last Saturday. It can only be speculated upon what was discussed, but with pressure put on Najib by Mahathir, Najib’s options are limited. Najib’s bid to stop the two top posts within UMNO being contested by election was met with great animosity by pro-Mahathir bloggers. Likewise the authorities clamping down on the 505 rallies might put some pressure on Anwar to consider a national unity government, if that was indeed on the agenda of their discussions, if at all they occurred.

Any attempt to seize the initiative in trying to form a national unity government by Najib would no doubt meet with the full Roth of Tun Dr. Mahathir, who would go into overdrive to replace him as PM. This fact alone casts doubt about any moves by Najib to discuss the possibilities of forming any type of national unity government. It would be a brave man who crossed Tun, yet Najib is also desperate for self survival.

The logistics of organizing any form of national unity government which could survive the whole parliamentary term would be horrendous. Allocating ministries among DAP, PAS, and PKR, developing policies, and creating a working cabinet among previous adversaries is a tall order. However if this could be achieved a certain amount of political stability would be achieved and the centre of political gravity would return to the peninsula, something many want.

A national unity government might give the people of Malaysia the feeling that some of their aspirations have been met.

Ku Li first postulated a national unity government back after the 2008 election. In the post GE-13 scenario he would need PR’s 89 members, plus 35 other supporters to enable him to win a vote of no confidence on the floor of the Dewan Rakyat or lower house. Ku Li is probably seen as the only figure left in the parliament who could not only unite UMNO, but a government, and even the country as a whole.

The political leaders in Sabah are known for their fickleness, which was blamed for Anwar’s blotched September 16 defection back in 2008. From the UMNO side, one of the biggest unknowns is the new voting system within UMNO for the direct election of party resident this year. Nobody really knows what the majority of UMNO members really want. However there are many people inside of UMNO who might welcome Ku Li as a chance to break away from the current mold and allow the party to progress.

Things start to get much more complex from the Pakatan Rakyat side. The spiritual leader of PAS Nik Aziz has been against negotiations with UMNO, but now after standing down as the Chief Minister of Kelantan, his continued influence within the party is unknown. There are those within PAS who see negotiations with UMNO as a good thing for Malay and Muslim unity.

The DAP have gone so far without compromise and stalwarts within the party would likely oppose any such moves. But then many also said that the DAP would not last long within PR. The DAP has surprisingly lasted, even with the unfriendly rhetoric that arises from time to time from its coalition partners.

Ironically, it may be two archrivals Anwar Ibrahim and Dr. Mahathir who might be the big spoilers of any such moves towards any form of national unity government. Many close to Anwar Ibrahim often comment about his strong personal drive and determination to become PM, and a national unity government may exclude him of that chance. Consequently he may not allow PKR to become involved in any discussion or participate in any government. However those within PKR who believe that the party is more than a vehicle for Anwar to achieve his own political ambitions may be more conducive to the possibility of negotiations, especially given the fact that many PKR members are in actual fact ex-UMNO members. The serious mooting of a national unity government could develop a crisis within PKR between those who are opposed and those who want to explore the possibility.

From Tun Mahathir’s perspective, he is rebuilding influence within the party and any national unity government would threaten this. Any national unity government would take Malaysian politics to a new era where he may become excluded.

Malaysia’s political future must have UMNO within its calculations. UMNO has strong enough support by those who belief in its heritage, the party cannot be ignored. For those who see politics as the art of the pragmatic and possible, power sharing may be the avenue to change that so many Malaysians desire.

However, besides the spoilers, self interest is likely to get in the way of any real breakthrough with people fearful of losing positions and influence. Developing a new model of government without the embedded corruption that has gone on, may be too difficult a task, as those involved will need to cover up their deeds. It is difficult to see how this issue could ever be resolved without giving immunity of prosecution, something people may not be willing to agree on.

Although a national unity government has so much to give Malaysia, and so many people view this as a real hope for the future, there are too many forces against this reality. Had a hung parliament resulted from the may 5th election, a national unity government led by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah may have been a real possibility, but the reality today may be that any potential national unity government is only a fairy tale, albeit one shared by many. - New Mandala

Murray Hunter is an Associate Professor at Universiti Malaysia Perlis.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Najib likely to face leadership challenge

By Bridget Welsh | Malaysiakini

One month after GE13, attention has turned to the Umno election. Rumours are already circulating about possible challengers to the ruling party’s No 1 post. While the Black 505 rallies continue to mobilise protest against the May 5 general election that many recognise as seriously flawed, the dominant political party is myopically focused on its party polls and who will lead the party after October.

The flurry of activity in recent weeks – from the call to make Umno more inclusive ethnically to the pleas for the return of the 2,000 delegates as electors (rather than 146,500 members) are all part of the now intensifying internal Umno political jockeying.

All eyes are on the contest for the top leadership position, especially given that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak performed poorer electorally compared to his predecessor and did not fully deliver on his promise of winning back Selangor and a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

More and more calls are being made to keep the two top positions uncontested. In Umno, however, the real politics is happening behind the scenes. The grassroots are mobilising for the first stage of the party electoral process – the divisional polls.

Despite the public rhetoric, current conditions point to a competitive contest, in which if conditions do not radically change, Najib will likely face a credible and substantive challenge to his position.

Five factors

There are five underlying factors that point to a challenge:

First, the modus operandi in Umno is money politics. This was a legacy of the Mahathir years and has become deeply entrenched, feeding into the concerns over corruption and governance. For many of the delegates, they join the party for the perks and invest in positions for potential financial gains.

Elections are an integral part of the financial rewards in the system as they involve the distribution of incentives. The logic is simple – the more the competition within the party, the more the incentives. Given the modus operandi in Umno, there are vested interests in fueling contests.

The higher the level of competition, the greater the promise of rewards. This election involves more people, so competition is costly, involving mass outlays of funds to more people than ever before. Part of the call for the return to the old 2,000-delegate system is driven by this economic ‘money politics’ reality.

There is a tension here between those who would like to minimise costs, with those who would like to receive dividends. The numbers are on the receiving ends, thus the systemic pressure for greater competition.

Second, Umno as a party is deeply factionalised. This is not unique. In fact for dominant one-party system this is the norm, as seen in Taiwan, Japan and Mexico. All political parties have some degree of internal divisions. These divisions, however, feed into competition as the leadership has to accommodate the various warlords.

In some cases, such as recently in Negeri Sembilan, the leadership has had to take sides on who to elevate to positions in the state government. Warlordism fuels competition by bringing national politics to the state level and vice-versa. Currently, the intensity of conflict at the state level and underlying resentment against Umno’s current leadership for perceived favouritism contributes to pressure for more leadership competition.

Malay chauvinism under challenge

Third, Umno as a party is being pressured to reform its identity after GE13. To be more precise, its Malay chauvinism is being challenged. The challenge is taking the form of calls to move the party into a more multi-ethnic entity, and be more inclusive of non-Malays. This is in response to the effective death of the BN as a multi-ethnic power-sharing coalition in GE13.

This measure initially mooted by Najib has yielded a strong reaction from the rank and file, who have come out of a polls where ethnic Malay chauvinism was stoked and ignited to bring the party faithful together against the opposition. The disconnect between the multi-ethnic initiative promoted by a national leader seeking national representation and the party grassroots embedded in their ethnic nationalist framework is real, and has caused disgruntlement among some and anger among others.

The push to maintain the openness in the party electoral system taps into this, as more numbers can openly display their rejection of transforming the party outside of Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Malay chauvinist mode.

Fourth, there is the reality of generational pressures within the party. Najib was not successful in having many of ‘his men’ elected in GE13, as he hoped to garner a new cadre of leaders to support his push to consolidate his position within the party. After all, he has yet to be elected to the presidency.

The push for younger, new faces remains, but the bottleneck in the leadership is substantive. The impact is that younger leaders will by nature ally with different actors with the hope of moving up the ranks in a system that has been slow to engage in generational transformation.

Finally, amidst the structural concerns is the long-standing push for statesmanship. Many in Umno hark back to the good old days when Umno leaders were respected across the Malaysian society, and seen as national leaders to be proud of. There is division within Umno, and nationally, regarding Najib’s leadership as well as his statesmanship.

He has not taken a prominent role post-GE13, and this raises questions. Najib, like his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, faces the difficulty of meeting conflicting demands and higher expectations. This push for ‘statesmanship’ leadership will be a driver for some of the potential contenders for power.

Najib seeks new allies

These party dynamics – money politics, warlord factionalism, party identity, generational pressures and statesmanship – all contribute to increased possibilities of a leadership challenge and greater party contention. At issue will be the new electoral system, the timing of the polls (with early polls apparently favoured by Najib) and the composition of the challenge itself.

The question being asked is whether Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is 66 last month, will feel this is his last chance to take a shot at the top spot or someone else steps up to the challenge. Also openly being discussed is Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, 76, who has shown a willingness to contest for Umno president in the past. It is unlikely, given the systemic issues at play, that no one will step forward.

Despite the questions around GE13 and the continued concerns with electoral irregularities, Umno feels victorious and is being portrayed as the ‘winner,’ contributing to more risk-taking and competition.

umno special briefing abdullah ahmad badawi announce resignation date 100708 04We have seen after the May 5 general election, new alliances are being forged – at least temporarily – ahead of the Umno polls. Najib has brought many of the Abdullah allies into the cabinet and he has reached out to Sabah.

He has not significantly rocked the warlord interests in most of the states as he sought more allies. His biggest ‘new’ ally appears to be Mahathir who said there was ‘no alternative’ to Najib in a speech in Japan. But history has shown that Mahathir’s fidelity as an ally is uncertain at best.

Najib has simultaneously thrown down the gauntlet by not giving Muhyiddin a senior cabinet position and holding his people at bay by not including them in the cabinet. The contest effectively began when the GE13 results came in, continued with the cabinet selection and is ongoing. The strategy of the marginalisation of Muhyiddin has begun.

In the weeks ahead, the backroom politics will only intensify. It is much too early to write off a challenge. In fact, current conditions suggest the opposite – a growing competition within Umno.

Najib will rely on the incumbency advantage, something which he had used effectively in GE13. But despite the power of incumbency, Najib’s position should not yet be seen as secure, as he has to pass the test of his party in what may very well be the fiercest contests for the party leadership yet.

DR BRIDGET WELSH is associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University. Bridget can be reached at


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