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Thursday, June 29, 2017

The shenanigans of Putrajaya's fourth floor



Every prime minister deserves to have all the help he or she needs. It is only fair to allow the prime minister the leeway to develop the country. After all, Malaysia is a Federation and not a unitary country so to speak.
In a Federation, the Malaysian constitution may be the supreme law of the lands. But the different states that formed Malaysia have their rights too. Minerals, land, forests, indeed, rivers and water tablets that belong to the state are entitled to the state. Period.
Problems begin to morph, indeed, metastasise when the political secretaries on the fourth floor, which is one floor below the office of the prime minister, are neither well informed of the constitution nor the rights of the states. And they show.
In the last general election, all five of the political secretaries of Prime Minister Najib Razak were wiped out. As one source recounted:
"Handpicked to run in the May 5, 2013, polls, Latt Shariman Abdullah, Shahlan Ismail Nasution, Mohd Shafei Abdullah, Mohamad Fatmi Che Salleh and Mohamed Suffian Awang were all, respectively defeated. Five out of five"
What made their outcomes sorry then, as it is now, is the degree to which the prime minister has repeated his error. And, he seems oblivious to it, just as he is impervious to 1MDB, Felda, FGV and even the investment reversals in Bandar Malaysia.
Of the five, Shahlan Ismail Nasution, has since returned to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). Shahlan, not unlike others, is not the least perturbed nor embarrassed. Why should he be ashamed when the Malaysian prime minister is willing to have him back?
Unity misleading
But the ostensible unity is misleading. On the surface, everyone in the PMO seems to be close and warm to each other. They may even embrace Shahlan and invite him for all forms of "iftar" to break their fast together.
But these are not a genuine expression of solidarity. They merely want to signal the willingness to co-exist, to fend for their own corporate or vested interests which they represent.
Thus, while the political secretaries don't exhibit any open enmity, secretly they hate each other like there is no tomorrow. More importantly, they hate the fact that a "loser" can still be rewarded with the perks of office.
When the political secretaries themselves cannot unite, their next task is to look after their own interest first - not that of the country. Thus, on the fourth floor of the PMO, the issues that preoccupy them on a regular basis is: how can I serve myself before the government of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak loses the next general election?
Among others, the likes of Khairil Annas Jusoh has claimed that he should be made a future senator. Potentially, he wants to be a member of parliament too.
But how can someone who cries and sobs openly in praise of Najib be considered a serious policymaker or legislator? He can't. Though he looks strong with his wry smile, he is really soft.
Not far along, is his uncle, Amirul Rahman, who believes that he too should be given more prominence by the prime minister. On any foreign trip, especially to China, Amirul Rahman wants to be included.
But when one is included in China, and unable to advise the prime minister on any aspect of Chinese investment, obviously this draws, even more, jealousy in office.
Indeed, since Khairul Mat Aseh claims to be the head honcho who helped the prime minister win the Sarawak state election in 2015 - forget about the Adenan Satem factor - obviously, he wants to be seen as the most powerful political secretary in the whole of Fourth and Fifth Floor too.
But Najib has tens of political secretaries distributed across the PMO and the Ministry of Finance as well as the less important Prime Minister's Department too. All wanting a bite at becoming the key lieutenant, potentially the deputy and full minister in the next government.
In fact, the argument that the opposition has no viable candidate to lead the opposition front is patently wrong. Up on the Fifth Floor, where the prime minister holds court and the fourth floor where his special officers and political secretaries are, no one knows what is Najib's next plan.
What does he plan to do to parry the filings of the US Department of Justice? What does Najib plan to do now that Bandar Malaysia is stuck in a rut with no Chinese investment coming in to redeem the project? In fact, who is actually reforming Felda Global Ventures (FGV) and Felda? And more importantly, how can Najib plan to win the next general election in order to prevent Ahmad Zahid Hamidi from teaming up with Hishamuddin Hussein to unseat him once and for all?

All the people on the fourth floor are clueless. This is why their confusion and petty collusion is causing a huge bottleneck. The National Automotive Policy isn't out, but half of the shares had already been sold to Geely Automobile, a mainland Chinese company. Malaysia has no policy on Palestine and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, yet Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates want Malaysia to denounce and renounce Qatar.
As these issues continue to simmer, the Malaysian currency is, of course, hit hard, since the international financial market is possibly shorting the currency to take advantage of the sense of drift that is in the PMO.

RAIS HUSSIN is Bersatu supreme council member and policy and strategy bureau head.- Mkini

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