Abdullah Badawi: The Rise and Fall of Mr. Nice Guy

badwixpm Malaysia’s Umno is a democratic institution, no doubt about that. It is the party that officially and truly brought the country to its independence. Its future does not lie with Abdullah Badawi’s fate but the early resignation of the PM will influence the future path of the party. They call him the sleeping head, the soft or the right man at the wrong place. These metaphors do not however introduce the real Mr Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Prime Minister of Malaysia or we should say the outgoing Prime Minister. To trace the rise of Abdullah Badawi in Malaysian politics we must go back to the days of the ‘reformasi’ which led to the dismissal of Anwar Ibrahim then strong man and protégé of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed. The vacuum created by the apparent demise of Anwar’s political career in 1998 was filled by Abdullah’s nomination as the new Timbalan Perdana Menteri (TPM) and this catapulted Abdullah Badawi as the Prime Minister in waiting. Destiny was fulfilled when Abdullah Badawi became the country’s 5th Prime Minister in 2003 but things were quite certain for the Umno veteran when Mahathir was in tears in June 2002, announcing that he was resigning. To many people at that time, it was a God given situation since Mahathir’s popularity was really at its lowest ebb and the country was in need of a new leader. Hopes were high among the Malaysians who believed that Abdullah Badawi would deliver on promises and become a better Prime Minister but after 2004, things turned sour for the outgoing premier. It is to be said that the release of Anwar Ibrahim from jail in 2004 was the peak of the iceberg of troubles that would nag Abdullah Badawi and taint his rule after he won the biggest and most popular mandate in Malaysian history. Months after the release of Anwar Ibrahim on a technical matter by the Federal Courts, Mahathir Mohamed began his ‘exorcising’ of Abdullah Badawi, targeting his economic agenda and his political moves with violent criticism. From then on, the ‘reform’ agenda set by the Abdullah Badawi regime started to show signs of failures while resistance to the reforms proposed by the Prime Minister grew significantly within the United Malays National Organization (Umno) and the establishment altogether. It was purely and simply the sabotaging of the Abdullah Badawi reform agenda that gripped tbe country since 2005 onwards and has led us to the greater possibility of the Prime Minister stepping down sooner than expected. Tun Mahathir shares a great part in the success of the anti-reformists to oust Abdullah as PM altogether. The early retreat of Abdullah will definitely be a defining moment in Malaysia’s politics. Will it better the fate of the Umno and the Barisan National in future polls? Or will it simply mean the early demise of the BN as the ruling coalition? The Prime Minister had to battle Mahathir on one side and the United Malays National Organization (Umno) on the other. His proposed reforms were stalled by his very own cabinet, with opposition from within rising against the too obvious ‘Islamisation’ process of these reforms. The establishment was altogether against him in these reforms as the ‘elite’ Malays wanted the existing economic and political agenda’s to remain in force. They forced the average Malay-Muslims civil servants to block the processes of ‘change’ and this led to an increase in corrupt practices in the country to the extent that Abdullah himself declared that corruption was indeed a major cancer in the Malaysian society. His own administration became entangled in conflicts that involved the Malay majority and the minorities in the country. There was a stiff refusal by the administration to adopt changes that could have steered the country away from the current ‘racially’ based problems it is facing. Yet it is the 2008 General Elections that became the historic moment in Malaysia with the rise of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) or a loose coalition of opposition parties that are still attempting at toppling the BN regime after its very long rule in the country. At one point of time, some observers were of the opinion that the Prime Minister was the better agent of the opposition and that he was on an agenda to break the BN’s high and mighty attitude in order to bring it to a more realistic state of mind. In plain English, they said to Worldfutures.info that the PM wanted to end the BN rule due to the rot that has amassed in the ruling coalition and in the Umno. In reply to that, the Prime Minister made a passionate speech this year when he said he has never been a heavy weight to be dragged by the BN and was always sincere and supportive of the Umno. This is important to note since it is his sincerity and his support for a coalition government that has grown widely unpopular that has caused his early retirement as Malaysia’s Prime Minister. He had other options at hand, including the formation of at least a unity government that would have seen Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition leader, in government with the BN leaders and the Party Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) top guns joining. This could have helped reduce the deepening crisis on the racial, political and leadership front in the country. The current battle plan of the outgoing Premier is to leave a legacy of change in the country. History will claim the massive changes in the banking and finance system of Malaysia into a very pro-active ‘Islamic’ one that is co-existing with the conventional system as Abdullah Badaw’s major achievement in his 6 years in power. But this will be forgotten as the world markets crashes and the future of the Islamic Capital Market itself become uncertain. His last battle before he leaves office is said to be one in which he intend to re-establish the declining and lackluster judiciary back within its own rights, fairly independent and just. This definitely indicates the huge rot in the country since the outgoing PM is still battling his own party, his own cabinet and his own establishment to jump start the mistrusted judiciary. A separation of the judiciary from the legislative is vital for the successful re-implementation of the judiciary as the most powerful league in the country after the legislature. Will the proposed reforms succeed after the much visited resignation of the de-facto Law minister in September? Islam Hadari is dead and buried and will be forgotten even before the PM leaves his office to his successor. It has contributed largely to the demise of the Abdullah Badawi regime since it did not garner the following that the PM expected despite huge efforts made in that direction. Plans to get the ‘Modal Insan’ or Human Capital on track altogether failed as it was seen as a possible counter-productive element by the same establishment that it was supposed to ‘re-ignite’ with fresh styles, fresh blood and a fresh image. If any Prime Minister had to learn that when the establishment is against you, you are doomed, it will be Abdullah Badawi. When he sits, resigned to his fate, in his retirement days the Prime Minister will surely regret not jolting the establishment and the civil service with the political resignations of the rotten eggs. Instead of his head rolling down the ‘guillotine’ it should have been that of the mini-Napoleons in the civil establishment that should have seen the exit route. Many observers agree that Abdullah Badawi did not strike when the iron was hot that is right after 2004 when he won the massive support from the people. He should have chopped the civil service of the lame and old fashioned and at times rogue elements that have, alas, won a great victory with the precipitated resignation of the PM. In editorial offices across Malaysia and in the blogosphere, it is the 4th floor boys whom Mahathir Mohamad called the half past six advisers who would have assisted the PM in his swift exit from the pedestal of power. Who are the ‘forth floor’ boys and what did they do to diminish the rule of the Prime Minister in the long run? They are associated by bloggers and critics of the regime of Abdullah Badawi to the famous son in law of the PM, Khairy Jamaluddin. Among the middle class Malays-Muslims, the blame is on Khairy Jamaluddin, the clever, witty and cunning young Malay- Muslim who by all means represents the ‘future modern Malay’ that was promoted by Mahathir’s regime in its late stages. Khairy Jamaluddin himself said in his blog ‘Rembau’ that he cannot understand why so much blame is being borne on his shoulders for the near defeat of the Umno and the BN in 2008. He rejects the blame and the accusations that he made tons of money during his father in law’s rule and is now contesting the – or is considering to content – the top post in the party’s youth wing. A win by Khairy will silence the anti-Abdullah critics but it will not make it easier for him to push forward his ideas, however brilliant they are, in a party like the Umno. A defeat by Khairy in the Umno youth chief post poll in March next year will however be the culmination of the end of rule of Abdullah Badawi. It may not end his political career but it will be a strong message to the young politician that his services are not really needed in the party and that he may be better off elsewhere. How will Abdullah Badawi take a defeat of his son in law in the youth chief polls is not transpiring yet but he may simply attempt to say that the party is really against him, in the end. Malaysia’s Umno is a democratic institution, no doubt about that. It is the party that officially and truly brought the country to its independence. Its future does not lie with Abdullah Badawi’s fate but the early resignation of the PM will influence the future path of the party. Perhaps if he had stayed until 2010 as was agreed by the Majlis Tertinggi of the Umno earlier this year, the party may have had a better chance to survive the much expected onslaught of the PR in the next General Elections. But then, the Umno had to get a new leader before 2010 and this had to be done before the October 13th parliamentary debates on the Budget. This day could have become the fatal day for the Umno had the PM not confirmed his resignation by the 9th of October since it was still possible for Umno MP’s to jump ship and join the PR and other ‘defected’ MP’s from the BN to form a new government and cause a senseless collapse of the BN regime. That was the thought at that time.(Editor’s Note) Perhaps it is true that Abdullah will be remembered for having saved the Umno and the BN from carnage on the Budget vote in which Anwar Ibrahim might have garnered the 31 extra MP’s support to defeat the Abdullah Badawi government at last. All said and done, the Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi remains the nice guy who was not at the right place in the leadership of Malaysia since this country is now turning to be as ungovernable as the Italians have known their country for the past few decades! Salaam and Eid Mubarak to the outgoing Malaysian Premier!


1 Response to “Abdullah Badawi: The Rise and Fall of Mr. Nice Guy”

  1. August 13, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Finally the beginning of English Premier League. Will be exciting and unpredictably. With SkySportsHD1 we can watch recaps and highlights from all games.

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