09 April, 2008

Take a break, let Najib run the show !

When Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi visits Johor this Friday for a closed door session with senior state Umno politicians, he will face his moment of truth.

The most powerful Umno state in the country is leaning towards asking the party president and prime minister to consider making way for a successor. They are unsure if he should set out a time table for departure immediately or if he should contest the party elections in December.

But the general view among division heads who met on Saturday is that perceptions are powerful, and that the perception hovering around Abdullah is that he is a weak leader and that his family has inordinate influence over him.

“We understand that these perceptions are untrue but Umno members believe these things and Pak Lah will not be able to govern effectively or unite the party. It is not going to be an easy decision for Johor Umno but we feel that we have a responsibility to let the president know of our sentiment."

Johor is considered the bastion of Umno and party candidates in the state have consistently done well in even the most difficult of elections. Election 2008 was no different with all Umno candidates winning their seats. But nearly everyone came home with a reduced majority. If Johor Umno sends Abdullah a signal on Friday that he should go, this could embolden other states.

While Malaysiakini asked Abdullah to "Take a break, let Najib run the show", a survey shows that most Malaysians still want Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to continue as Prime Minister. But the bad news is that it is not an overwhelming “Yes!” and the public has a laundry list of demands including resolving the burden brought about by rising prices and inflation.

The truth of the matter is that he and his administration are on a tight leash as most Malaysians are not happy with the way they have handled certain issues like rising prices, crime and public safety, ethnic inequality and corruption.

These were the findings of a survey done after the 12th General Elections on March 8. More than 1,000 registered voters were polled between March 14 and 21. It is interesting to note that following Barisan Nasional’s dismal outing at the polls, the people still want Pak Lah to lead the country. But just barely.

With just slightly over 50% approval rating, it is not surprising that Pak Lah is getting the highest support from the Malays (63%), followed by the Chinese (31%) and Indians (30%).

This is because he is no longer seen as the Prime Minister of all Malaysians. Most non-Malays felt that he had not taken the necessary steps to deal with issues like ethnic inequality and religious rights going into the elections.

So now it is up to Pak Lah to win back the confidence of all Malaysians.

And, what will Anwar do after April 14? "Que sera sera", the man says.

"But of course I look forward to... after all it is a decision by a corrupt court, a compliant court under the instructions of Mahathir. I don't give a damn what they say," he said.

Talking about judicial reform, the move to reform the judiciary gathered significant pace today with one of Malaysia’s most respected voices calling for a judicial renaissance.

Raja Nazrin Shah said that in the last two decades, judicial independence and integrity have been eroded. The result: lack of confidence in the judicial system and the complete disregard for the law by some quarters.

“These are dark stains on our honour and reputation and they have the potential to weaken if not destroy the nation. Malaysia needs nothing short of what I call a judicial renaissance," he said, delivering the address at the Malaysian Judges Conference.....read more here.

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