The real power behind the throne

By Mariam Mokhtar
Tuesday, 02 November 2010 13:00
Malaysian Mirror

Malaysian Prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s illness with chicken pox on the eve of the visit of two foreign dignitaries – Australian Prime minister Julia Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is unfortunate but not as awkward as how events have unfolded whilst he is recuperating.

Najib first showed symptoms of illness at the 17th Asean Summit Meeting in Hanoi and according to his wife, Rosmah Mansor, has been asked to rest by his doctors.

Whilst at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, where she paid a visit to the accident victims of the Genting bus crash, Rosmah was reported to be in ‘high spirits standing in for Najib at functions’.

Rosmah appears to be taking her role a bit too seriously.

Is she not overstretching her responsibilities when she says she will stand in for the PM by ‘officiating on Najib’s behalf’ at the ‘1Malaysia Deepavali Carnival’ at Little India in Brickfields a few days ago?

Yesterday, she repeated this prime-ministerial role at Sri Perdana for Julia Gillard.

Malaysians are confused for they would tend to believe that when the Prime minister is incapacitated or on holiday, it is his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin who takes over.

People will start to make comparisons and say, when Barack Obama is ill, Michelle does not stand in for him. When Julia Gillard is ill, her partner Tim Mathieson does not take over. When the British monarch falls sick, Prince Philip her consort, does not take over, but Prince Charles, the heir apparent to the throne, assumes her role.

There is speculation that Najib is not really ill but wants to avoid the two dignitaries, who are probably the two most powerful women in the world.

Does Najib not want to be pressured into concessions with both Clinton and Gillard? Or is his ‘sickie’ just him ‘playing hard to get’?

Clinton will meet civil society groups and also leaders of the opposition. Is Najib ‘upset’ and so snubs her because of this?

One of the major topics to be discussed by Gillard is about human-trafficking. Recently, seven Malaysian immigration officials were arrested for the part they played in people-smuggling.

Australia is the final destination for asylum seekers, principally from war-torn Afghanistan who fly into Malaysia before taking a boat to Indonesia and thence, to Timor Leste and Australia.

This year alone, over 5,500 refugees have ended up in Australia.

Is Najib reluctant to support Australia in setting up a processing centre for asylum seekers in Timor Leste, because he does not want to risk upsetting his counterparts in Timor Leste and Indonesia? Is he afraid to say ‘no’?

Is he also fearful of telling Gillard that human-trafficking is a rampant problem and that with high levels of corruption in the country, which his government appears not to deal with effectively, it is therefore impossible for him to tackle the issue?

Did he send his wife out to ‘soften’ both these women so that they would accept his views? He realises that Clinton and Gillard are both professionals in what they do but if Rosmah engaged them in small talk, he effectively employs delaying tactics to important issues present on their busy schedules, which only a decision from the Malaysian Prime minister would suffice.

Whatever the true reasons, Rosmah should never have assumed the PM’s role in public. It is highly unprecedented.

The image projected worldwide must be one of confusion. Does protocol not mean anything in Malaysia? Even if Rosmah was not in any formal discussion but was merely present in an ‘entertainment’ capacity like in a banquet or similar, it is awkward for the main players involved.

The mixed messages to the public, when Rosmah takes centre stage standing in for PM are confusing and damaging.

For the visiting dignitaries, they are not accorded the due respect which should be reserved for people of their seniority and importance.

Gillard and Clinton are important world players. Has Najib an ulterior motive for staying away and is using the chicken pox as a convenient excuse?

For Muhyiddin, people will wonder why he is perceived to be of lesser importance and not worthy of his deputy premiership. Has Rosmah usurped him?

For Rosmah, the people will think that she has delusions of grandeur. They will ask why she is ‘standing in’ when she is not even an elected person. She is only the PM’s wife.

They may well say she is not even the wife of an elected PM; nor is she a civil servant.

They might even suggest that if she fancies herself as PM that she should offer her candidacy at the next General Election.

Maybe these conjectures are all wrong and that she is truly the power behind the throne.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 2 November 2010 - 5:06 pm

    What is amazing is not so much that Rosmah is doing what is not authorized to do – its been done a few times before already. What is amazing is that everyone knows it and they keep ignoring that everyone says. Its literally belligerance, uncouth, wrongful conduct no less. She is being made party to state matters possibly secrets that she is not suppose to have.

    Its simply medieval – the powerful can do no wrong. Its a laughing stock of institutions, of law, rules. Its the powerful spitting into the face of ordinary rakyat that has to follow unreasonable and unjust rules. Its simply just wrong.

  2. #2 by drngsc on Tuesday, 2 November 2010 - 5:12 pm

    Ayooh, dont you know? We have PM1, and PM2, then DPM. When PM1 is ” sick “, PM2 takes over. Also, PM1 actually has ” Chicken ” -pox. He has just chickened out, thats all.

  3. #3 by HJ Angus on Tuesday, 2 November 2010 - 5:40 pm

    it’s a diplomatic faux pas for the PM’s wife to stand in for him as she has no official standing.
    What a waste of time for Clinton and Gillard, two of the 10(?) most powerful women in the world to have to spend time with a Malaysian wanabe.

  4. #4 by undertaker888 on Tuesday, 2 November 2010 - 5:46 pm

    the yassin guy is actually brain dead and more preoccupied with his ketuanan. Nothing good ever comes out from his stinking mouth. and he can’t speak good england anyway. he may actually embarrass us all in front of these 2 ladies.

    najib is not having chicken pox. he is having chicken out.

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 2 November 2010 - 5:56 pm

    Oredi gasak 1st Lady title fr d real 1st Lady, now wants 2 b macho PeeEm too
    Moo just not jantan enuf 2 act 4 d chickened PM, no bola 2 tell d fake 1st Lady off
    Wonder if NR were 2 kick d bucket in harness (just like his dad), will we get a de facto cougar PeeEm? An Empress Dowager Cixi in d making

  6. #6 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 2 November 2010 - 6:07 pm

    Hahaha, she may also chair UmnoB supreme council meeting n occupy NR’s seat in d Parliament
    She may go 2 d two buy erections 2 bribe d voters on behalf of NR
    We r witnessing a NEW POLITICS – Y UmnoB, MCA, MIC, Gerakan, etc so silent on dis coup

  7. #7 by Loh on Tuesday, 2 November 2010 - 6:35 pm

    ///Maybe these conjectures are all wrong and that she is truly the power behind the throne.///MM

    It would of course be a difficult job to remember the briefing by Najib on all the answers to the expected questions, including the explanation and justifications on Malaysia’s stand. But judging by how she enjoyed the role, Rosmah must have been competent; she could get Najib to accept her answer retroactively. So long as Najib later owns up to what has been conveyed as Malaysian’s position, there should not be a serious diplomatic issue if the two visitors perceived that discussing with the DPM could be less fruitful than talking to the messages carrier from the PM.

    Can a person contact chicken pox more than once in his life time?

  8. #8 by PoliticoKat on Tuesday, 2 November 2010 - 10:12 pm

    Loh :
    Can a person contact chicken pox more than once in his life time?

    Once you are infected with the chicken pox virus, you stay infected for the rest of your life. The virus stays dormant in your spinal cord. If the virus reawakens due to weakness of the body (old age, HIV, immunosuppressant drugs, sickness etc), you get shingles.

  9. #9 by aiD_kamikuP on Tuesday, 2 November 2010 - 10:15 pm

    Such is the disdain Malaysians have on this hapless pinklips chicken.

    I would say, give him the benefit of doubt and say it might have been small-cox?

    Ooops, sorry, I meant pox.

  10. #10 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 3 November 2010 - 12:03 am

    Question: Did anyone know what HE DID in Hanoi last week?
    Was CSL with him 2 visit Angela Yam? Get d pox/pocks fr ayam?
    Was he afraid 2 face Hillary who may ask him abt d C4 murder of Altantuya?

  11. #11 by johnnypok on Wednesday, 3 November 2010 - 4:34 am

    It is a Wayang kulit, and the title of the movie is “Chicken Pox”, starring Fei Mow (Fat Cat) … and directed by a sick man.

  12. #12 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 3 November 2010 - 7:46 am

    Not all foreign diplomats are confused (esp if their countries know about facts and realities of Malaysia and have briefed them). Now when Senior Mentor Minister Lee Kuan Yew (“LKY”) whom many attribute with careful thinking and strategic insight was visiting Malaysia in quest for information to help him further understand Malaysia he made it a point to call on Rosmah. What does that tell about the “power behind the throne”?

    Of course protocol-wise wife of the PM should not be seen as assuming the husband’s PM’s role in public but here is a lady who evinces a stronger and greater resolve, determination ambition and focus on whatever she wants and how to get it than her spouse…and in other circumstances had she been a man in our patriarchal society who knows for sure “he” would not be a PM by now!

    But protocol or no protocol, her influence on him is an open secret and reality and Malaysians appear to be getting 2 rulers (in partnership) for the price of one, and the issue is really whether she complements his weakness/shortcomings or compounds them.

    Such is nature of things many a strong wives are behind the throne – whether she chooses to go upfront on the stage to perform as well or let the man wear his pants and sing in the limelight with she in the backstage managing the props, the lightings and acoustics, and arranging the sitting arrangements and guests list!

    In eulogy by LKY of his late wife, Kwa Geok Choo he admitted she was a major influence and that “without her, I would be a different man, with a different life”! And who knows how much influence Hilary had backstage to influence Bill Clinton’s success in politics, though she now claims the right on her own to be in front stage as secretary of state, and who knows one day perhaps even the presidency.

    Which is why I always think in favour of the female species that when they ostensibly fight for gender equality it is a concession to the men when all along they pull strings from behind to make sure that the lead man does not perform too ineptly!

    Influence on policies may be good or bad. The “bad” some of us may also know. The good?

    Well put it this way: we know the PM is conscious of objections/loss of votes from conservative religious establishment (both on UMNO’s and PAS’s side) that are stumbling blocks to foreign international artistes coming here to perform. But Mdm Rosie liked karaoke singing since varsity days and would never missed front seat in Celine Dion’s concert.

    Now IF she had (indeed) influenced him to relax the rigid and often preposterous rules and guidelines on dress code required of these artistes – couching them inconspicuously under a slew of relaxation under his so called Economic Transformation Programme objectives of promoting foreign investment and turning Malaysia into a cosmopolitan hub for international events – then we have her to thank to be still able to attend Adam Lambert’s, Spice Girls and other concerts!

  13. #13 by k1980 on Wednesday, 3 November 2010 - 8:15 am

    Loh See Mah: So what? Cannot one lah? Jiang Ching was Mao’s wife and made his deputy, you tak tahu?

  14. #14 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 3 November 2010 - 8:37 am

    The difference in case of illegitimate former actress María Eva “Evita” Duarte who saw attracted and conquered Argentina’s president Juan Perón is that the masses genuinely loved her for trying to make Argentina a better place for the disenfranchised and lesser well to do, hence the song “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” when she died of uterine cancer in 1952.

    Will there be “Don’t Cry for me Malaysia”???

  15. #15 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 3 November 2010 - 8:45 am

    Yes, there will b “Please cry 4 me UmnoB” when she dies of uterine cancer in circa 200x
    Meanwhile, enjoy d 2 in 1 or is it 3 in 1 PMship

  16. #16 by dagen on Wednesday, 3 November 2010 - 9:21 am

    There will be 26million people crying for Malaysia, the way things are going. For various reason that is. And of course less people will cry after GE13; ie when the political life of umno is finally seperated from the umno body, which umno body would be severely crushed by then. Meanwhile fat mama ros may orgy on in public. But it wont be for long. She is no madam mao.

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