MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another faction bites the dust: End of the road for Khairy and Badawi

Another faction bites the dust: End of the road for Khairy and Badawi
Malaysians have heard of Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), the government-owned cash cow with huge controlling shares in many companies and asset management firms, but it is doubtful whether many have heard of this other Government-Linked-Company, Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Bhd (PUNB), an entity entrusted to develop Bumiputera entrepreneurs in strategic and high potential businesses.
Currently headed by low-profile octagenarian chairman Mohd Abu Bakar Mohd Noor, who has held the position since 1998, PUNB is purportedly due to be passed over to Umno Youth chief, Khairy Jamaluddin, to manage.
Surely, this must be the most ignominious position ever extended to the head of Pemudah, as the Youth wing is also called. All other Youth chiefs have so far been made at least Deputy ministers, but not Khairy, despite his Oxford-education and this is due to the fact that he has stepped on too many toes to be forgiven even now.
An awkward end-of-the-road for KJ and Badawi
The gullible in UMNO say this is a thank-you gesture from Najib to Khairy for not creating trouble for him and his administration. Whichever way one looks at it, it spells a premature political demise for Khairy in UMNO as it is pretty conclusive now that he will not be fielded as one of Najib's 'winnable candidates'.
Khairy can still refuse the PUNB offer, which according to the Umno grapevine, will be the last from Najib - no need to hope for more! Yes, this is the end of the road for Khairy. There is no point for Najib to give him a seat or even to his father-in-law, Abdullah Badawi. Najib needs his own loyal supporters as candidates, and both Khairy and Badawi are risks for Najib because they have their own faction and supporters to take care of.
This is why the Badawi camp has rushed around suggesting that Najib will continue to give Badawi his long-held Kepala Batas seat to contest, as well as retain Nor Mohamed Yakcop in Tasik Gelugor.
But Nor Mohamed is already so tainted by corruption allegations that it immediately discredits and kills off the very speculation the Badawi camp is trying to spread to pressure Najib. If Nor Mohamed, the economic minister and former Bank Negara trading chief who lost billions in the forex market, and whose political aide was caught with RM2 million in cash, can still be rated as 'winnable', then Najib deserves a grilling from other warlords as to why he is rejecting them for someone with such a record.
As for the dozy Badawi, if he has not awoken from his beauty sleep, it would not be surprising given the complete lack of interest all round whether he is in politics or not. To many Malaysians, he had in his hand the power to change Malaysia for the better, but he did not when he bowed to pressure in 2008 and agreed to pass the premiership to Najib.
Khairy, in trying to save face, because he wants to avoid being seen as being mothballed like other rejects, could insist that he still wants to sacrifice for UMNO and the Malays as he is not looking for any rewards. Of course, the chairmanship and its remuneration is peanuts to Khairy. This ambitious 30-something wants something better - like a full minister post in the next UMNO-BN Cabinet, that is, if UMNO-BN wins.
But will Khairy fight for it? He reportedly has the war chest and big bucks needed for such battles, but he is so tarnished and has offended so many people in UMNO that even money may not be able to help him. After all, Khairy's rivals such as former premier Mahathir Mohamad, can easily double what he can offer.
It certainly looks like a cul-de-sac that Khairy, with all his ego and his millions, may not be able to navigate out from. The best solution and alternative would obviously be for him to leave and join the opposition. But sad to say, despite his youth and impressive physical traits, Khairy lacks the much-needed gung-ho in the guts department.
Whether or not Khairy accepts the PUNB post, which is actually a slap in the face for him as well as his father-in-lw Badawi, he is likely to remain in UMNO, stay low and bide his time.
Khairy could try to connect with Tengku Razaleigh's Amanah group for political profile because the way things are going for him, it looks like he won't even be able to defend his Youth chief post at the UMNO election due to be held later this year. After all, why would the Youth wing want to be saddled by a lackluster and out-of-favor chief without influence or clout?
PUNB offer an insult and not a thanksgiving from Najib
Lastly, a look at PUNB. Obscure as it may be, PUNB still had RM400 million at its disposal, an allocation that some say was excessive. Apart from the chairman, there are also the vice presidents and directors Salleh Sulong, the ex-Proton boss, Mohamed Haniffah bin S.M. Mydin, Wan Mohd Zahid bin Mohd Noordin and Dr Rafiah Salim, the ex- Vice Chancellor of Universiti Malaya who did not improve the status of UM much.
Imagine, UMNO entrusted RM400 million to such an unconvincing group. Latest reject, Khairy, should then fit in to a tee. However, if the news reports about Khairy accepting the PUNB chair are true, his entree' will surely swivel the spotlight on the health of PUNB's fund management so far.
So what is the status of the RM400 million now? How much is still left and does PUNB need another bailout? The fact is, PUNB is one of the many institutions armed with massive funds set up by UMNO to help the Malays, and yet the Malays still stay in the same rut without much to be proud of. Granted, UMNO is not interested in improving the lot of the Malays because UMNO wants the Malays to be dependent on it, but what about the RM400 million?
Surely if PUNB has been so successful, it would be showcased as a classic example of UMNO success. UMNO leaders and warlords would all be fighting to be in the PUNB set up. But it looks like, not that many are keen.
It will be left to unfavored sons, such as Khairy, to take the heat if anything goes wrong at PUNB. And should Khairy imagine he can benefit from his appointment there, chances are most of the available funds would have already been utilized. His job will mainly be that of chief debt collector! Yes, the problem and task at hand in PUNB is how to ensure that it gets back whatever loans that have been given out to the “high potential” (read high risk) businesses, including student loans.
Chief debt collector! Surely a far cry from the PM's chair that Khairy wanted to assume before he reaches 40. Nonetheless, as soccer pundits say, the ball is round and anything can happen. So for the soccer-loving KJ, at least there is this solace - small as it is -  for now.
Malaysia Chronicle

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