the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad spoke at the Johore Barisan Nasional convention in Johore Bahru on
Thursday and called on all Barisan Nasional component parties to accept his
decision on the allocation of seats in the next general election as final and
appealed to them to accept his decision, it set off political reverberations he
never intended as his speech was immediately
interpreted as a hint and possible
pointer to early general elections as well as pre-empting and undermining the
position of his designated successor, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
had explained that he was making the appeal to the Barisan Nasional component parties at
this early stage so that when a decision had been made by him as the Barisan
Nasional chairman, they would abide
said: “Let's say there are additional seats available (in the next general
election). Inevitably, there will be BN component parties which will not get
everything they want . . . but none will not get anything at all.”
said that all the 14 BN component parties must abide by the decision because the
allocation would be done fairly.
not my reading that Mahathir had intended to hint in his Johore Barisan Nasional speech of early general election.
It was in fact a faux pas on Mahathir’s part, stumbling inadvertently
into a “lame duck” situation, requiring him to correct it the next day at
Genting Highlands with the statement that he did not rule out the possibility of
his deputy Abdullah leading the Barisan Nasional in the next general election.
such a situation, Mahathir said, Abdullah would then
decide the seat allocation formula for all Barisan Nasional component
parties as he would be Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional Chairman – and he
would assist Abdullah from “outside” during the general election as he would
no longer hold the post of UMNO president.
is not the first “lame duck” incident after Mahathir’s dramatic and emotional
announcement at the UMNO General Assembly in June on his resignation as Prime
Minister and UMNO President, which was later transformed into a 16-month
transition period to hand over full powers to Abdullah next October.
first “lame-duck” instance – where he could not follow through and achieve
what he wanted - was Mahathir’s
attempt to foist Datuk Seri Najib Razak as the new No. 2 on Abdullah and
pressure his deputy to make an
immediate public commitment – which created such pressures on Abdullah that he
had to buy time by stating that he would announce who would be his No. 2 after
the Pendang and Anak Bukit by-elections.
immediately after the two Kedah by-elections, Abdullah avoided the issue by
postponing the announcement of his
new No. 2 to an “appropriate
the next 15 months until he steps down as Prime Minister next October, there
will increasingly be more such “lame-duck” incidents because they are
inherent in the 16-month power transition plan – what I said in my media
statement of 26th of June 2002 that it
is a plan for a lame-duck Prime Minister and lame-duck Deputy Prime Minister for
the next 16 months or two Prime Ministers whether because of one stepping on the
toes of another or with each trying to avoid stepping on the toes of another.
will not be the only “lame-duck” political leader in the Barisan Nasional
however, as the MCA Team B team has been spreading word that the address by the
MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik at the 49th MCA General
Assembly today would be his “swan song” as he would be eased out as MCA
President under the Mahathir MCA “peace plan”, which suspended MCA elections
and froze MCA party democracy.
chances of early general election being imminent, to the extent that it could be
held at the end of this year, has largely disappeared as a result of the Pendang
and Anak Bukit by-election results. If
UMNO had swept both Kedah by-elections, then general election at the end of this
year becomes imminent. But with the
two by-election results, although UMNO won one seat back from PAS, the political
scenario is back in a state of flux,
as the results showed that although the non-Malay votes are solidly behind the
Barisan Nasional in the two-by-elections, UMNO has still to convincingly
establish that it has won back the Malay rural heartland from PAS.
Mahathir had all along claimed that Kedah UMNO was united and that there were no
problems over the choice of UMNO candidates in the two by-elections, and
Mahathir and other UMNO leaders are trying their utmost to
blame the UMNO’s defeat in Anak Bukit and wafer-thin majority in Pendang to
the “crude, callous and violent” tactics of PAS,
the admission to Malaysiakini yesterday by the UMNO Vice President Tan
Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib that UMNO internal problems were the main cause of the
Barisan Nasional defeat in Anak Bukit is probably the most honest and
sincere assessment made by any UMNO
leader on the two Kedah by-elections so far.
The far-from-impressive UMNO results in the two Kedah by-elections may have greater implications than generally realized. As a result, the question as to whether Mahathir would lead the Barisan Nasional into the next general election as Prime Minister, UMNO President and Barisan Nasional Chairman has become very open and uncertain..