Friday, June 16, 2006

Serious implications if Umno sacks Mahathir

The rumour mills are circulating full speed in and around Kuala Lumpur that former prime minister and Umno veteran Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be sack from the party.

The "news" is so great that even leading Malay/Muslim opposition party, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party or PAS vice-president Husam Musa found it necessary to comment.

Husam was quoted by several media as saying that he has received information that prime minister and Umno president Abdullah Badawi is planning to sack Mahathir for his public criticisms against him.

Rumour mongers jumped into the bandwagon when Abdullah's deputy, Najib Tun Razak's statement (New Straits Times, June 14) indicated that there were indeed grave concerns about the negative impacts of Mahathir's criticisms on party discipline and coherence of the larger Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

Apart from Mahathir, it is understood that a witch-hunt is on the way. It is time for opposing Umno members to finish their rivals. Those in different camps are being identified for the kill.

It will be Umno and Abdullah's biggest mistake if Mahathir is kicked out of the party for a second time. In 1969, Mahathir was sacked for attacking the then prime minister and Umno president Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra. It did not diminished his political career.

Umno members will ask what about the assurance given by Abdullah that Mahathir enjoys the freedom of speech? Mahathir still enjoys strong support within Umno and the Malay community at large.

The support voiced by cabinet ministers and BN leaders are expected but could not be fully trusted. They will support whoever is in charge. Ministers do not want to lose their jobs.

So the statement by Najib that the vast majority of members (Umno and BN) were strongly behind Abdullah's leadership is simply political in nature and political statements are normally "half-truths".

If Abdullah and the Umno Supreme Council sacks Mahathir, it would be the most serious mistake by the party that would lead to the downfall of Umno and the BN government in the near future.

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