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MGG: No general elections until 2004, says PM [Must Read]
By M.G.G. Pillai

1/4/2002 2:04 am Mon

[Mengapa mesti baca? Kerana Umno sebenarnya semakin gundah dan gelana. Pemuda Umno berpolitik bukan dengan menggunakan kepala tetapi dengan mulut yang asyik hendak mengancam serta menggugut orang sahaja sehingga kes NUTP (dan debat dulu) terpaksa ditutup serta-merta! Puteri Umno pula lebih berperanan sebagai bunga yang segar dan harumnya cuma sebentar sahaja yang sudah tentu mudah layu bila banyak dijamah oleh tangan gatal disekelilingnya... Umno sebenarnya tidak begitu yakin (confident) akan masa-depannya - sebab itulah akta pilihanraya dipinda, pemimpin muda parti Keadilan ditangkap dan akhbar Cina dinoda. Sebuah parti yang betul-betul kuat tidak akan mengambil langkah seperti ini yang menunjukkan betapa terdesaknya ia.
- Editor

No general elections until 2004, says PM

The Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Mahathir Mohamed, says there would be no elections before 2004, when one must be held. The UMNO Youth leader and his cabinet minister, Dato' Hishamuddin Hussein, orders his youth wing to be prepared for one. The deputy prime minister, Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, says there Puteri UMNO, the young women's wing of UMNO, is in fine shape, repeats it several times to make sure his message is heard, as more prominent names quit. It is a truth foretold that when the government makes statements of intent apropos nothing, it is a sure sign of problems ahead. The country is on autopilot, the Prime Minister having urgent meetings in Ougadougou and points further afield, the deputy prime minister is not in a position to run the country in his absence, a malaise setting in that cannot do the government any good.

When the Prime Ministers says there would be no elections before the five-year term ends in 2004, he does not mean what he says. It is a reflex action when asked inconvenient questions. Every times he says something like this, the opposition happens. Few in his cabinet, with whom I checked, believes it must be next year. If he waits until 2004, the UMNO succession would turn turtle, and someone the party leadership does not want could well be in the saddle. UMNO is riddled with insecurities that whoever in the present lineup is cause for a split within. The big problem now is for Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak, whose machinery is well entrenched to deny the deputy prime minister his promotion, to agree to be the deputy prime minister when the change occurs and wait in line. The Prime Minister is not enamoured of his deputy as he once was, and would rather have someone else. He looks to history and he does not want to be remembered as the one leader who destroyed UMNO thrice: in 1987, in 1998, and after he leaves.

The events of 1998 destroyed UMNO's self-confidence, especially when it allowed the Anwar imbroglio to fester and seep into the Malay cultural conscience that it now threatens to consume him and UMNO. It is now clear, as revealed in Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim's Federal Court appeal against his conviction and jail sentence for sodomy, that the High Court Judge was prosecutor and judge with the clear idea from the start the man must be convicted. It now appears, on the words of his principal accuser, that he lied about Dato' Seri Anwar committed sodomy with him. More than that, it is clear to the Malay, that he was convicted so he could be humiliated. When the Prime Minister broadcast to the world of his deputy's guilt, a fair trial was not possible. Mr Justice Augustine Paul broke the High Court's sentencing convention by refusing to allow bail pending appeal, and for sentence to start from his arrest instead of from the date of his sentence.

It divided the Malay community as never before. To UMNO's detriment. Dr Mahathir is caught now in a cleft stick, and forced to reconsider bringing his nemesis back into office and as his successor. This worries UMNO apparatchiks no end, for they have, at their leader's bidding, damned him at every chance they got. UMNO politics nowadays is destructive. The long apprenticeship, which was how an UMNO member rose to his heights, is not possible now. New leaders with ambition want to reach the top as quickly as possible, and would not allow the old fogies to stop them. Now there is an added condition: Even diehard UMNO members doubt if UMNO would last long. They get ready to jump ship. I have met many in the unlikeliest of places, giving rise to suspicion they aim to be, if conditions are right, political long jumpers.

The BN is disorganised: it is not just UMNO in tatters, but the MCA, Gerakan, MIC, the Sarawak and Sabah parties as well. What helps it is the utter disorganisation in the Opposition. That gives it the level playing field it denies the Opposition, enough, when all is said and done, for it to scrape through with a two-thirds majority. Which is one reason why it tightened the elections laws so the Opposition would have to try harder under more onerous conditions. Because it made a fetish of its two-thirds majority, it cannot afford to ever lose it. Nor as UMNO a Malay party could it afford to have more Malay MPs in the Opposition. Either or both would create a political crisis so immense that one could not predict what could happen. So Dr Mahathir diverts attention by promising no elections until the five-year term is up. But he does not attempt to resolve the problems that caused his extreme political nervousness.

M.G.G. Pillai