14 July, 2008

Drama is one certainty for Malaysian political scene

The no faith motion was rejected, there was no demo and Anwar refused to show up at the police station,cops turning Parliament into 'war zone' and Police blocks cause city gridlock, that's Malaysia Boleh !!

"I have reached agreement with my deputy that I will not lead the party and the Barisan Nasional into the next general election" due in 2013, Abdullah said.

But there are grave doubts whether Abdullah retains enough political authority five years after he took over the premiership and party leadership to be able to dictate this timetable.

UMNO is riven by factional in-fighting with some potential leaders and their followers wanting Abdullah ousted at the party convention in December if not sooner.

Chief among the contenders are perennial leadership contender Kalantan state Prince Razaleigh Hamzah and International Trade and Industries Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Demands for Abdullah's swift removal stem from UMNO's deplorable showing in March elections when it logged the worst results since 1957 and lost legislative power in four states to opposition parties.

Snorting from the sidelines is the domineering presence of former prime minister Mahathir Mohammed, who handed over the party and national leadership to Abdullah in 2003. But Mahathir quickly became disillusioned with his protégé, concluded that his legacy is not in safe hands, and has mounted a very public and vitriolic campaign against him in recent months.

Meanwhile another stellar figure from Malaysia's past, Anwar Ibrahim, has made an astonishing come-back after years in the political wilderness. He believes his People's Justice Party will soon get enough defectors from the ruling BN coalition to have a majority in parliament and the right to form a government.

But politics in Malaysia is seldom a simple matter of counting votes. Swirling around the whole question of the length of Abdullah's political survival and the succession is a torrid maelstrom of allegations of sexual impropriety, corruption and murder.

There have been questions for several months over whether Abdullah's chosen successor, Najib Razak, is fit to take over the leadership.

At the heart of this question is a continuing court case over the murder of a Mongolian woman translator, Altantuya Shariibuu, the mistress of one of Najib's policy advisers Abdul Razak Baginda.

The Mongolian woman was allegedly murdered by two of Najib's wife's bodyguards after she appeared outside Abdul Razak's house in Kuala Lumpur loudly demanding that she be properly recompensed for his pleasure.

There have been further allegations, vehemently denied by Najib, that he had his own intimate relationship with Shariibuu and that the woman had been promised $500,000 to assist in the purchase of submarines from France.

The nature of her alleged services has not been specified.

These allegations were made by opposition leader Anwar last week, coupled with a demand that a full public inquiry be launched into Najib's involvement in the Shariibuu affair.

Retribution was not long in coming. By mid-week allegations had been made by UMNO officials that Anwar had committed sodomy -- illegal in Malaysia -- with a member of his staff.

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