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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Najib’s Kedah speech highlights Umno’s strife

Najib's call comes amid worries that Umno's silent but widespread internal friction could jeopardise the ruling coalition's chances at the upcoming national polls.
KUALA LUMPUR: Umno president and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak today said he was confident that Kedah can be recaptured if the party’s state chapter was united, a statement that signalled the ruling outfit’s fractious fighting is far from over.
“I don’t want to see anymore politics of playing one against another and no more factions in the party… don’t want any more sulking and back-stabbing in the election campaign.
“If all the party members support the candidates chosen, it will be impossible for us to lose in the election,” he said when simultaneously opening the delegates meetings of six Umno divisions in southern Kedah.
The statement comes amid worries that Umno’s silent but widespread internal friction could jeopardise the ruling coalition’s chances at the upcoming national polls which is seen as a survival battle.
Kedah was one of the five states that fell into opposition hands in the 2008 polls that also saw Barisan Nasional losing its customary parliamentary two-thirds majority for the first time in decades.
Notwithstanding the upsurge of support for opposition bloc, much of the ruling coalition’s downfall was blamed on sabotages from Umno’s own party members.
FMT had previously reported that the same could happen in the 13th general election if Najib decides to make way for new faces as candidates. Umno sources said this was the only reason behind the prime minister’s hesitant to call for early polls.
Empty plate
Kedah is seen as one of the most troubled states for Najib’s Umno. Despite what is perceived as a weak Pakatan Rakyat administration, Umno has failed to capitalise on that weakness, analysts said.
Among the key issues is the lack of a capable figure from the state Umno’s ranks. One name discussed to head the state is Mukhriz, the son of powerful former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who is a Kedahan.
But the Jerlun MP is seen as weak. Umno sources said he may have his father’s name to help him but the deputy international trade and Industry minister cannot muster the necessary support especially from the older local party warlords.
The problems are evident when Najib said he was betting on six of its strongest divisions in the state to become an example to the fractious chapters when spearheading the campaign to regain the rice producing state.
“It’s already four years [since the last general election]… there should be no more problems, no more finger pointing… enough is enough. Time to close ranks. Too much already been said, until foaming at the mouth.
“If we love the party, we have to accept [the decisions] for resignation. If chosen [as candidates], we say Alhamdulillah (Praise to God). If not chosen, we also say Alhamdulillah. If that is the attitude, it means we are mature,” Bernama quoted him as saying.
The country’s sixth premier is aiming to redeem BN’s record electoral losses which would help consolidate his position in Umno but analysts predict a least favourable outcome for Najib.

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