The Malaysian Insider
May 14, 2014
What was supposed to be a quick change of leadership in Terengganu has now blown into a full crisis for Barisan Nasional (BN), which could still lose the oil-rich state to their political foes unless all Umno assemblymen pledge loyalty to the state government.
Here are some observations of the last two days when Datuk Seri Ahmad Said’s (pic) resignation letter as menteri besar snowballed into him and two other Umno state lawmakers quitting the party. One is said to have returned to the fold.
1) Najib is weak
Let’s be honest. If Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was strong and if he was feared in his own party, Ahmad Said and the other state assemblymen would think many times before holding Umno/BN to ransom.
But as it stands today, he is viewed as weak by everyone, from the motormouths at Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) to royal households throughout the country.
They know that Najib is indecisive, unable to use the powers of incumbency to exert control and seemingly incapable of sparking a feel-good feeling about his administration across Malaysia.
The end result: even a small-time local politician named Ahmad Said can thumb his nose at Najib.
2) Remember the Perak power grab
If the roles were reversed, it would be reasonable to expect that some Umno bigwigs would be beating a path to the palace, claiming that Umno’s representative should be installed as the new Menteri Besar and that BN be allowed to take control of the state assembly ala Perak.
You can bet that all legal precedents would have been thrown out as was the case in Perak and that Umno would be in charge by now.
By contrast, PAS and DAP are asking for fresh polls; seeking to go back to the people for a mandate.
3) Prima donna politicians
Is it a case of egos? Was Najib trying to show he has the testicular fortitude to stare down a menteri besar without even considering that Malay customs and social culture dictate some niceties?
And what about Ahmad Said? Was he so embarrassed to what was tantamount to a sacking days before hosting a wedding feast for his daughter that pushed him to bring a government down?
It would appear that Umno politicians believe they are bigger than the party, or the government or the people that they serve. It is all about their interests and agendas.
But between these two alpha males of sorts, who will back down now in the interest of the party? Or can Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin save the day for Umno?
If not, how much would it take to get the independents back to Umno?
4) Umno needs to out-crisis Pakatan?
Just as the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties were trying to paper over cracks caused by the hudud issue, Umno had to implode with the Terengganu crisis.
The pressure was on PR to head off an ideological split similar to the one that broke Barisan Alternatif in 2001 when PAS insisted on pushing for hudud laws despite protest from the DAP.
Just days after PAS relented to shelve the idea, Umno had to spark a crisis by removing Ahmad Said in what would appear to be unholy haste.
Was Umno’s timing just bad or the leadership was clueless at Ahmad Said’s resolve to keep the top state post? – May 14, 2014.