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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Potential Umno leadership tussle, says report

Muhyiddin is a potential challenger for Umno’s top post. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — A possible head-to-head fight between Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his deputy for the top party post at the next Umno presidential election will be a source of political instability, a country report by the influential Economist Intelligence Unit said.

The report pointed out that Najib risks losing the presidency to his second-in-command Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin if Umno fails to make up lost ground in the Sarawak state election.

The state election has to be held by July 2011, and is widely seen as a bellwether for the next general election. The Umno presidential election is expected to take place after that, in late 2011 or early 2012.

“Under these circumstances, there will be even greater resistance to economic reforms, undermining the credibility of the prime minister, Najib Razak, and even placing his position as president of Umno (and thus his premiership) at risk,” the report said, adding that the most likely contender was Muhyiddin.

The report also mentioned that Umno will likely “turn inward” during such contests, and cautioned that the ruling party might not pay heed to Barisan Nasional (BN) component party interests during this time.

“Umno tends to turn inward during leadership battles, ignoring the interests of other parties, and this is even more likely to happen at a time when its status is threatened,” it said.

The report had earlier identified political intrigues within Umno and its determination to stay in power at any cost as potential sources of political instability in the next five years.

Najib is struggling to keep control of his party as he continues to try pushing through much needed economic reforms aimed at making Malaysia more competitive and innovative.

He faces considerable opposition from conservative elements within Umno but appears reluctant — or unable — to rein in dissenting party members, who openly voice their disapproval of Najib’s New Economic Model (NEM).

The NEM is seen by some as a betrayal of the pro-Bumiputera New Economic Policy (NEP) — authored by Najib’s father and Malaysia’s second prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak — and a threat to Malay hegemony.

Malay rights group Perkasa, backed by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has been an especially vocal critic of NEM initiatives that propose reduced Bumiputera equity quotas.

courtesy of Malaysian Insider

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