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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Umno leaders reach "collective decision" on Anwar's offer of a unity roundtable to discuss national issues

Umno leaders reach "collective decision" on Anwar's offer of a unity roundtable to discuss national issues
KUALA LUMPUR - As expected, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's offer of peace and national dialogue on the eve of the country's Independence Day left members of Umno top decision-making body flummoxed and blustering, with those with vested interests the ones to object the loudest.
"Umno leaders who always find fault with Anwar so silly. To ask Why Now is banal if not stupid," mocked former Umno leader Zaid Ibrahim on Twitter.
Zaid was referring to news that the Umno supreme council had discussed and even made a "collective decision" at their meeting this afternoon, hours after Anwar's proposal.
"We reached a collective decision on the matter but it is not for me to announce," Malaysian Insider quoted Hishammuddin Hussein as saying.
"It's not something we want to make a big hue and cry about. The country will still be around tomorrow."
It is telling that Prime Minister Najib Razak, the Umno president, took care to rush off before the meeting ended, possibly so as to evade any blame and to shield himself ahead of the party's election in October.
Brick wall with vested interests
Umno insiders told Malaysia Chronicle that whatever decision Najib announces in the coming days, talk of a "unity government" would dominate the topic of conversation especially in Umno as its election neared. This despite the fact that Anwar had only called for a dialogue between the Barisan Nasional government and the Pakatan Rakyat opposition to discuss the major issues currently disconcerting the nation and disrupting its progress.
"Unity government cannot be immediate as even Anwar himself has said so. It is just too complex and while Umno and the Malay community as a whole would welcome a peace-making offer, there are many vested interests involved," an Umno watcher told Malaysia Chronicle.
"Some of the warlords, and you should know who, will have to make way. Pakatan has many talented people who are also young and clean. They will make the Umno warlords look bad. Do you think they will agree to a unity government if it disadvantages them? Of course not, so it is no surprise Najib has to watch out for this group. They will rock the boat, destabilize the country, anything to make sure that they don't get shaken off the durian tree by Najib, so to speak."
"But let me tell you a secret, the dialogue has actually already started. Anwar is not expected to take up any government position that will undermine the position of other key leaders. Unity government will take centre stage. The supreme council will ensure Najib will emerge a stronger president after the Umno election."
Making way although key players in Umno will be 'protected'
Among the Umno supreme council members who spoke out most vehemently against Anwar today were Mukhriz Mahathir, the son of former premier Mahathir Mohamad, and Khairy Jamaluddin, the son-in-law of another former premier Abdullah Badawi.
Both Mukhriz and Khairy are eyeballing the PM's chair for themselves, and should there be any unity government formed, they would have to compete against the young talent in Pakatan including Nurul Izzah, Azmin Ali, Rafizi Ramli, Husam Musa and Nizar Jamaluddin.
It is not surprising that both Mukhriz and Khairy have described Anwar's offer to start a dialogue with BN as an act of desperation.
"He wants to talk about this now, after losing in the elections and losing in court on election petitions. To me, he has no credibility to make this offer now. He should just bring this up in Parliament if he is really serious. But after losing in the election petitions, he is making this offer. We cannot accept this," Mukhriz Mahathir said.
“We have no problem in holding a dialogue, but don’t try to show that he (Anwar) is the one trying to unite the country. We have to know what are the terms of reference for the dialogue. We must be sincere in holding the dialogue,” Bernama reported Khairy as describing Anwar's offer as an "act of desperation".
Is there anything from Umno-BN but the same old, same old ...
Among the issues Anwar mentioned that required urgent consensus and national attention were the rising racial polarization, religious intolerance, spike in crime, weakening economy and weak leadership in tackling endemic corruption in the government and businesses.
It may have been coincidental that Najib had on the same day declared that "I want to make corruption part of Malaysia's past, not its future. And that means changing organizational as well as business cultures."
Malaysians, who will celebrating a subdued 56th Merdeka on August 31, will soon know if there is really nothing to look forward to but more of the same old rampant corruption, the same old racial and religious politicking by an Umno-BN government caught in "the old mind-set that they are masters of all".
"They must accept that like it or not, the majority by sheer numbers have said they want a change and there must be a fair exchange. The least we are asking is that we must be heard and I can assure Prime Minister Najib there will be a conducive environment in these sort of exchanges. But I don't think we are going to talk in terms of a national government. Policy issues,economic issues, crime - let us listen and get these going," Anwar had told a press conference after his eve of Merdeka speech.
Malaysia Chronicle

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