COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
25 August 2014
One day soon, it will be remembered that the great Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad – the slayer of deputy prime ministers and a prime minister – was finally defeated not by an individual but by RM.
The former prime minister’s biggest miscalculation in withdrawing his support for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was in believing that Umno members are followers of men or ideals. Or that they are even concerned about the downward spiral of Malaysia.
They are not. And have not been for decades.
They owe their allegiance only to money and wealth. More so these days when every problem or disillusionment can be fixed with either a contract, project, concession or cash handout.
Or where good publicity and support in blogosphere can be obtained by a handsome monthly stipend paid out to bloggers by businessmen close to Putrajaya.
To be fair, Dr Mahathir cannot claim ignorance of this cancer that has all but devoured the soul of Umno.
He acknowledged the onset of this disease during his years as PM and his privatisation policies even enabled the rise of the culture of easy money.
But the Dr Mahathir who withdrew the support for Najib last week does not understand that the money-grabbing dynamics at play is hundred fold more today than in mid-2006, when he last launched a pre-emptive strike against a sitting PM.
Today, there is a sense within Umno that every passing day brings them nearer to losing power. And, therefore, for many of the party’s leaders what is most important is securing economic security for themselves, siblings, children and other nominees.
Just a few days ago, government officials were given instructions to commence direct negotiations with a company where a key director is the son of an Umno power broker.
Why would this Umno leader want to join the Dr Mahathir camp and criticise Najib? How does upsetting the status quo become an advantage?
It is noticeable that even usually vociferous Malay leaders of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been indifferent to Dr Mahathir’s claim that Najib’s policies are leading Malaysia down a path of economic ruin and the unravelling of social cohesion.
These NGOs are recipients of the level of funding from either the government or government-friendly businessmen not seen before.
So for them, concerns about race relations or the emptying of national coffers or of Putrajaya becoming allegedly slavish to foreign governments is about as important as climate change in the North Pole.
Also working against Dr Mahathir this time around is the belief that his withdrawal of support for Najib was prompted after he was rebuffed by the PM on three issues, namely resuming the building of the crooked bridge to Singapore, payment of RM1.7 billion to Proton and stopping further 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) payments.
Not helping also is the reality that Dr Mahathir has precious few heavy hitters in his corner this time.
Even the mercurial former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin is not in the best of health.
Against this backdrop and the culture of easy money gushing through the veins of Umno politicians, it is not surprising that Putrajaya is not really perturbed about Dr Mahathir’s withdrawal of support for Najib.
The Najib camp just believes that it understands the psyche of today’s Umno much better than Dr Mahathir. – August 25, 2014.