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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Azalina vs Shahrizat - a devious 'sandiwara' scripted by Najib to pip Dr M and Muhyiddin?

Azalina vs Shahrizat - a devious 'sandiwara' scripted by Najib to pip Dr M and Muhyiddin?
Umno women's chief Shahrizat Jalil’s reputation has been tainted by the RM250 million Gemas NFC debacle but somehow Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is the Umno president, still has deep faith in her.
Najib is even willing to discard Kamilia Ibrahim, the current deputy women's chief, although she should rightfully take over Shahrizat’s post while Shahrizat should have resigned in the immediate aftermath of the NFC scandal. But no, Najib discarded the good one and kept the bad one. Why is this so?
Only God and the two of them - Najib and Shahrizat - know. For Najib, it may be that the situation may fits his needs; Shahrizat has no choice but to be the most loyal Najib supporter, she really is at his mercy. Of course, it could also be the other way round; it is Shahrizat who has damaging information on Najib and this is why he has to stand by her through good and bad, even to the point when it hurts him politically.
Which is which, even the higher ranks in Umno can only speculate on the precise situation.
'Lovey-dovey' ties: Credible challengers shut out, 'bad apples' favored?
So given the 'lovey-dovey' political ties between Shahrizat and Najib, why is former Umno women's youth Azalina Othman coming into the picture?
Yes, at 59, Najib is still a very handsome man but surely not Azalina's cup of tea. Or Shahrizat's for that matter. Both women would know better than to anger his wife - ROSMAH MANSOR, the country's one and only self-styled FLOM or First Lady of Malaysia. Rosmah could flatten both women with one titanic heave of her ample 'packaging', not to mention the carnage she could wreak on the hapless Najib. Get the picture? Now back to Azalina.
At 50, Azalina is 10 years younger than Shahrizat. Although Azalina holds a parliamentary seat, while Shahrizat has none, Azalina has no grassroots support. In the 'truest-bluest' tradition of Umno, sensing which way the wind was blowing, those who had been loyal to Kamilia shifted their support to Shahrizat the moment it was clear Kamilia had been dumped by Najib, who sad to to say, as the Umno president also wields strong influence over what goes on in the women's wing.
Rosnah, Rafidah
No, Azalina despite her Pengerang seat is not the one who can provide the real challenge to Shahrizat. The candidate who has the real clout to claw down Shahrizat is perhaps Rosnah Shirlin, the Umno women's youth or Puteri chief.
Although Rosnah is the one with the real chance of successfully toppling Shahrizat, notice how she has already announced that she would not be contesting for any post. Rosnah's supporters find this hard to accept because while she has reached the age limit, there is no reason why she should not go for a higher post and the natural extension for her would be to target the senior wing's top post.
Another credible candidate anytime more plausible than Azalina is Rafidah Aziz. She is the former Wanita chief and despite her age, she still has the clout as well as tons of money, so she may well decide to take on Shahrizat. Rafidah would be the female Ku Li although much more scandal-tainted.
Ku Li is of course Tengku Razaleigh, the Gua Musang MP and veteran who still dreams of becoming the prime minister. Ku Li is expected to challenge Najib for the presidency. There is every reason to expect Rafidah to do the same against Shahrizat.
Another reason why Azalina may fail in her ill-embarked quest for the Wanita top post is still the somewhat outstanding matter of corruption related to the time when she was Tourism Minister and her purported lavish life style including her love for super-cars.
Her challenge is even more questionable when, despite winning the Pengerang seat, she was not appointed a minister in Najib’s Cabinet. So as things are, Azalina is in the same position as Umno Youth chief Khairy jamaluddin used to be. Without a Cabinet post, she is almost on the verge of political oblivion. She needs to climb onto firmer footing but to make a stab for the Wanita's top post on her own would be even more destabilizing unless she had support from 'higher-up'.
Who is behind Azalina’s ‘brave’ move?
So the question begs - where or rather from whom is Azalina drawing her courage from? She and those around her know it is quite impossible at this point and time in Malay culture for her to be accepted as the Women's chief; it is highly unlikely she would want to draw negative attention by pushing herself forward in such an obtrusive manner. This presumption is borne out by the seasoned observers in Umno, who believe Azalina's sponsor is none other than Najib himself.
Yes, it may come as a surprise to those unfamiliar with Umno politics but this is classic Umno-style! Sponsoring Azalina is truly a waste of time and this is exactly what Najib wants.
Firstly, it won't cause him much resources and secondly, her candidacy will fulfill 2 of his goals. First, it will look like there is already a challenger for the Wanita post and this will help to keep away other contenders as well silence the grassroots who might want to see at the very least one challenger against Shahrizat. Secondly, Azalina will surely lose and Shahrizat gets to keep the post - triumphant and ready to rise again from the political ashes so to speak. Najib's  excuse and justification should he later reappoint Shahrizat to the Cabinet would be that she 'fairly and squarely' won the support of Umno women members, who could argue with that?
Devious? Well, there are worst cases and in the scheme of things in the Umno universe, this is actually a 'small-fry's maneuver - "very Najib", as some in Umno have said. The big ones by the likes of former premier Mahathir Mohamad and ex-finance minister Daim Zainuddin would leave you breathless by their sheer ruthlessness and cunning, they add.
True, Mahathir and Muhyiddin Yassin, the current Umno deputy president and deputy prime minister, would not waste time and resources behind such a puny move such as the Azalina 'challenge'.
Both Mahathir and Muhyiddin are gunning for Najib's post and they will go for the jugular either 'jointly or severally' - to borrow a favorite legal phrase. In other words, Mahathir and Muhyiddin can take on Najib together or they might go their separate ways but towards the same destination -  Najib's very precarious presidency.
'Sandiwara' to draw the women's vote
So this then is the conclusion of the Umno savvy. The Azalina challenge is merely a ’sandiwara’ scripted, directed and produced by Najib Tun Abdul Razak. Azalina did not ‘come into’ the picture; she was 'brought in’.
Najib is hell-bent on making sure Shahrizat remains in power. But with her image almost as tainted as his, Najib has to give Shahrizat a whitewash, put her into the laundry so to speak, clean her up and give her a makeover so that she can be of further use to him and his camp. Umno will also be seen as practicing 'democracy'; top posts were be 'contested' but perhaps like the recent May 5 general election, the outcome will also be rigged to even before any ballots are cast.
Incidentally, should Shahrizat win, it is a no-brainer that her husband who headed the NFC and has been charged for criminal breach of trust will 'suddenly' be cleared by the ever-efficient and ever-politically subservient Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. The events due to unfold will be a thrill and a scandal to watch.
As for Azalina, if the observations are correct, she too can expect to be rewarded. After all, why should she get into such a game for nothing. Minister, she might not become but there are many top posts available in the government-linked-corporations that pay lucrative packages. If her successor to the Tourism Ministry, the scandal-tainted Ng Yen Yen can be appointed head of the Tourism Board, why cannot Azalina pick and choose from the GLCs too?
By using Azalina, Najib hopes to assure that all the women in Umno will support him in the coming general assembly, where despite calls for no-contests for his presidency, he is bound to face at the very least one challenge for the post. In fact, most in Umno are expecting two challengers at the very minimum.
No wonder, Najib is scheming hard to win the women over. He really needs every vote he can get.
Malaysia Chronicle

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