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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Najib tightens grip on power, to name loyalist new Chief Secretary


Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to promote the director-general of the Public Services Department, Abu Bakar Abdullah, to the post of Chief Secretary to the federal government when incumbent Mohd Sidek Hassan’s contract expires in June next year.

High-level sources tell Malaysia Chronicle the move is part of Najib’s plan to consolidate his grip on power ahead of snap general elections that he is likely to be forced to call in mid-2011.

“More than the Pakatan Rakyat, Najib is afraid of the warlords in Umno. His own deputy is waiting for the opportunity to oust him and this will happen if BN does not regain two-thirds majority in Parliament or at least retake the Selangor state government,” the source said.

Selangor vital for Najib's survival as Umno president

Just a day ago, current Chief Secretary Mohd Sidek shocked Selangorians by announcing that an underperforming head of the state religious department, Khusrin Munawi, would take over as the Selangor State Secretary in January 2011.

The appointment is believed to be mooted by Najib himself, who needs all the fire power he can muster to topple the popular Pakatan Selangor government. On Monday, Umno also announced that Najib would retain his post as the head of Selangor Umno - a move that will surely pile additional pressure on him.

The office of the state secretary wields enormous clout when it comes to administrative matters at the state assembly. During the Perak coup d'etatengineered by Najib in 2009, it was the combined support of the Perak Sultan and the Perak state secretary that helped him to bend the law in the BN's favor and oust Pakatan mentri besar Nizar Jamaluddin.

No surprise then that Khusrin, who is a staunch Umno supporter, has come under attack and his neutrality questioned. His appointment is being disputed and challenged by Pakatan Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim. Khalid has his own shortlist and will meet the Selangor Sultan on December 29.

“It is not the prerogative of the federal government nor the Sultan’s to appoint the state secretary. It also requires a third vote – the nod from the state government,” PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

He was responding to a news report that the Selangor Sultan had sanctioned the appointment.

“Even the private secretary to the Sultan states clearly that in his opinion - please note that it is his opnion only – that the power of appointment rests with the JPA (federal government). So our fight is with the federal government and should they choose to continue to disrespect and ignore our input, we will challenge them,” Tian added.

Baggage from Defense days

Meanwhile, attention is also likely to swivel to the 55-year old Abu Bakar. He was the secretary-general of the Defense Ministry at the time when Najib was the minster in charge during the mid-2000s.

Abu Bakar’s rise has been meteoric. Najib made the top gun at the Public Services Department in July 2010, setting off a chain of speculation.

“It is certainly a dream career for Abu Bakar. But sadly, his promotion is tarnished by the perception that he got where he is because he was very close to Najib and Najib carried enormous baggage from his Defense days,” the source said.

Indeed, the scandal-plagued Najib has been unable to shake off the controversial RM6.7 billion Scorpene submarines purchase he approved when he was the Defense minister.

Compounding the allegations that he had received a huge “cut” from DCNS, the vendors of the submarines, is the murder of a Mongolain translator Altanutya Shaariibuu, who had helped his close friend Razak Baginda seal the deal. - Malaysia Chronicle

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