Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to give up the PM's post.This time the call came from home, from 20 divisions in Johor UMNO. It wasn't a direct call for him to resign but they urged him to take a sabbatical and let DPM Najib takes over for a while to cool down the very overheated resistance to his presence as prime minister.
Not invited to the meeting were 6 divisional heads who also happened to be ministers in the Federal cabinet. They were Hishammuddin Hussein,Shahrir Abdul Samad, Khaled Nordin,Syed Hamid Albar,Muhyiddin Yassin and Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad.
The meeting was held at the residence of the Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman and the absence of the six divisional heads/ministers and Tourism Minister Azlina Othman and Deputy Minister of Human Resources Noraini Ahmad clearly shows the party is divided on the issue.Those in Pak Lah's cabinet do not want to be seen as traitors although many discreetly wanted him to go and go quickly.
More and more dissenting voices are now coming out from the rank and file.It's apparent that Pak Lah is now confronted with bigger domestic problem within the party.The pain in the neck Mahathir has achieved the objective of destabilising him. The darling of the 2004 Elections is now the most hounded man in the country.
How did Pak Lah's fortunes decline in such dizzying speed ? He is probably the only prime minister who had become unpopular in the shortest span of time. Even the cold-blooded Mahathir managed to retain power for 22 years and didn't go through such agonising moment of embarrassments. There was no spontaneous call for him to step down. Malaysians generally have a love and hate relationship with him. Members of UMNO either despise him in silence or had high regard for his leadership. He is also an enigma and can be full of surprises which kept his enemies in awe or in fear. He has managed to keep his opponents and distractors at bay through fear or favour.
When Abdullah took the helm from Mahathir he was seen as a god-fearing, clean and amiable man. His Mr Clean image and amiability strengthen by his promise to clean up corruptions was the drawing power to his massive electoral victory in 2004. Unfortunately, he failed miserably in his promise and continue to make mistakes without any attempt to correct it. He behaves like a minor thinking making promises is a game that you need not play by the rules. His natural disability of making correct statements when addressing the nation has put him in a bad light and demolished his god-fearing image. His inconsistency and contradiction are appalling.
When he was asked about his son's business and whether he has used his influence to help bolster the son's business he responded by saying that his son doesn't do business with the government and almost all his business were with foreign companies outside the country.He probably didn't realise that many people knew most of his son's businesses are with Petronas overseas operations. When he was asked to confirm the rumour that he is getting married to Jean Danker, he replied in the negative and shocked the nation when he got married a few weeks later.
Like the weather he is notoriously fickle and his state of the art fickleness was played out when he stated in no uncertain term that Parliament wouldn't be dissolved yet to make way for elections, and pronto !.......he dissolved Parliament the next day. The people were horrified in disbelief that a prime minister of a nation can make such infuriating blunders. His series of political blunder leaves a lot to be desired.
Abdullah is not made of grits and guts, he can easily give in to threats and demands.It was not untrue when Mahathir accused him of ignoring some of the candidates recommended by menteri besar and chief ministers.There were no discussions held between him and the menteri besar/chief ministers on changes he made to the list. He unilaterally took the decision to replace it with candidates of his choice.
His handling of the recent controversy with Sabah clearly shows he can buckle under pressure.The rumblings in Sabah BN necessitates him to make a journey there to meet Sabah leaders and he met the leaders separately instead of as a coalition group.He has made certain promises which Sabah BN hopes he will make good.
The appointment of Pendikar Amin Mulia as Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat is most puzzling.There are many elected member who deserved to be given that position instead of Pendikar who is not even an elected member. Pendikar is an UMNO divisional head of a very small community of people called the Iranun, a name changed by him from Illanun which is a connotation for pirate. Pendikar is well known for his abrasiveness and threatening manner, a kind of uncultivated Long John Silver.
Pendikar, Salleh Said Keruak,Amir Kahar Mustapha,Yusof Yacob and Ghafur Salleh were dropped by Chief Minister Musa Aman.Ghafur managed to wriggle he way back in through his connection with a Sabah businessman who has strong link with Syed Hamid Albar who talked Abdullah into putting Ghafur back on as candidate.
Pak Lah has also promised to give more ministerial posts to Sabah which means he has to create new posts just to fulfill that promise, a reversal of the scrapping of a few ministries when he announced his cabinet line-up.
Although Pak Lah is not an evil man and has been quite liberal in his ways, his lack of leadership and inconsistency has made him very unpopular.
Will he survives till the UMNO General Assembly in December ?
Johor, Sabah and Perak have the biggest number of divisions in UMNO. Losing the support of these three states would spell trouble for Pak Lah.