After tabling a fiery motion in a special Parliament seating Monday to condemn Israel at the Dewan Rakyat, our lame duck Prime Minister suddenly got angry with Tan Sri Muhyiddin for a statement about stalling the US FTA negotiation. He demanded explanation for a statement made. Why the sudden nervousness after the fiery strong words in Parliament?
On Monday itself, YB for Gombak, PKR Azmin Ali spotted Pak Lah's sudden change in terms from "Rejim Zionis Israel" to merely "Israel". It is actually not a surprise. He did nothing for Palestine when he was the OIC Chairman. The condemnation on Israel attack on Lebanon in 2006 was delayed by more than a week. He was on holiday in Perth.
What happened with the US FTA negotiation is that it had to be postponed twice - once at our request and at another at the American request? Is it possible Rafidah and Muhyiddin forgot to inform Cabinet in their weekly meeting?
Shouldn't Pak Lah be happy for the delay? There is a campaign to boycott American goods. Or the most likely to happen, lame duck forgot? He must have got too much pumpkin in his head?
Rafidah was about ready to sign the US-FTA last year before the General Election but Muhyiddin, who was Agriculture Minister then, requested time to sort many agriculture issues. After General Election, talk resumed but the American requested a postponement. Just like in Malaysia, work get stalled when there is their Presidential election.
Is Pak Lah really angry about the USFTA negotiation or he has got something up his sleeve?
The following is the Bernama report of Pak Lah's keenness to trade with the US:
January 14, 2009 00:04 AMHaving explained for the delay, what was meant for "something up his sleeave"?
Explain Statement On M'sia-US FTA Talks
BENTONG, Jan 13 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi wants International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to brief the Cabinet on his statement that his ministry has temporarily stopped Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the United States.
The Prime Minister said Muhyiddin must formally inform the Cabinet on his ministry's decision and the implications.
"Tan Sri Muhyiddin must brief the Cabinet and what are the implications," he told reporters after attending the East Coast Economic Region Development Council meeting here on Tuesday.
Asked whether Muhyiddin made the statement in the wake of the latest developments in the Israel-Palestine conflict in the Middle East where the United States is seen to be supporting Israeli brutalities on the Palestinians in the Gaza strip, Abdullah said: "Definitely, what was announced by Tan Sri Muhyiddin must be linked to what was debated in Parliament (about the Palestine issue).
"Whatever it is, he (Muhyiddin) must inform the Cabinet officially. There are matters that need to be explained," he said.
Muhyiddin said on Monday his ministry would temporarily stop FTA talks with the United States until it received further instructions from the Cabinet.
Muhyiddin had said the government would not be hasty to conclude the negotiations especially at a time when the US was giving full support to the Israeli atrocities on the Palestinians.
The minister said the several rounds of FTA talks held with the US so far had not reached an agreement on many issues.
Read Dato Fuad Hasan blog post here. He wrote it to caution against taking rumours at face value. But one could read it as him trying to share information. Is it too elaborate the deatils for cautioinary pisting?
Malaysia Insider wrote their second piece on Pak Lah's being pissed with Muhyiddin, below:
Jan 1st, 2009, Malaysia InsiderDato Fuad has his version. My version see Pak Lah extending as Prime Minister.
Pak Lah remains bitter with Muhyiddin
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 1 — One of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s infuriating habits is his tendency to forgive and forget, charge his supporters.
Political enemies are given a free pass too readily; those who ignored him when he was in political wilderness in the early 1990s such as Penang’s Datuk Ahmad Ismail have been defended publicly and even embraced as allies; and his critics have been invited to have dinner with him at his Jalan Bellamy home.
Perhaps one day Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will fit snugly into the “forgive and forget category”. But not just yet.
They meet at the weekly Cabinet and Umno supreme council meetings and bump into each other in Parliament when the House is in session but there has been next to zero personal contact between the two men over the past few months.
The reason: Abdullah still cannot get past the cheerleading role that the Minister of International Trade and Industry played in whipping up ground sentiment in Umno against him after the March 8 elections and the alliance he forged with former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the campaign to force the PM out of office early.
Abdullah has so far not entertained requests from Muhyiddin for a four-eyes meeting, concerned that it could be misconstrued by party members as endorsement of the latter’s push for the deputy president position in Umno.
Muhyiddin is being challenged by Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Ali Rustam and Rural Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, two politicians who have shown some measure of loyalty to the prime minister when he was being hammered for his weak leadership and role in the electoral debacle for Barisan Nasional.
Ironically, Abdullah always considered Muhyiddin one of his closest friends in government. And though he picked Datuk Seri Najib Razak as his deputy over Muhyiddin, he appointed the Johor politician to senior portfolios in the Cabinet, first as the Agriculture Minister and then as the Minister of International Trade and Industry.
He was surprised when word filtered back to him that Muhyiddin had used a Federal Territory Umno meeting in May to openly question his fitness to lead Umno and the country.
During that meeting, Muhyiddin said: “Pak Lah is my friend, but can he manage the current situation? He's a good man, but the situation has changed. I am being sincere… We need to change, so that we don't go down and down.”
Still, he refused to believe that Muhyiddin had teamed up with others including his nemesis Dr Mahathir to force him to hand over power to Najib sooner than the 2010 transition date. But slowly he began to see a trend of Muhyiddin getting more vocal and adopting some of the arguments which had been put in the public domain by Dr Mahathir.
He was grated when Muhyiddin began distancing himself from the 2010 transition plan despite endorsing the supreme council decision. During this time, Abdullah was encouraged by some Cabinet ministers and senior government officials to drop Muhyiddin from the Cabinet.
He declined to do so, either because he did not want to make Muhyiddin a martyr in Umno or because he did not want to open up another battlefront.
Following Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s stunning victory in Permatang Pauh in August, Muhyiddin increased his pressure on Abdullah to step down. By then also, more senior Umno politicians had become restless and concerned about the future of Umno should Abdullah remain in power till mid 2010.
Abdullah himself sensed that his grip on power was weakening and moved to protect his turf by offering Najib the powerful Finance portfolio.
The end came swiftly when several members of the supreme council, including Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, urged Abdullah not to defend the party presidency, saying that he had lost the ground.
Following this rebuff, Abdullah announced that he would step down after the party assembly in March. He believed that the groundswell against him had been manufactured by Muhyiddin and gang.
A senior party official told The Malaysian Insider: “I believe that one day Pak Lah will be able to forgive Muhyiddin but there is still bitterness over the betrayal, especially how he teamed up with Dr Mahathir.’’
On the flip side, Muhyiddin’s supporters argue that he was spot on in pushing for a quicker transition of power, noting that Umno seems to be more united now that the succession issue has been settled. Government lawmakers are more assured in Parliament and talk of cross overs has died down.
Also, they point out that though Muhyiddin was hoisted as the poster boy of the “force Abdullah out" movement, there were many senior Umno politicians who were saying in private what the Johor politician was willing to say on record.
Muhyiddin’s advocates say that he wants to meet Abdullah to clear the air and rebuild a friendship that was once solid.
That day of rapprochement could happen but ties between the two men will never be the same. Too much has happened between March 8 and now.
From the information gathered, Pak Lah has explicitly told someone he does not want Najib for PM. It is strongly believe there is a silent behind-the-scene collaboration between certain "opposition" group and some insider in UMNO out to deny Najib. Notice how Raja Petra could openly declare preference for Khairy for Ketua Pemuda upon release from ISA?
Whether there is any truth, God knows. The only way Najib could be properly denied will be through the courts, but that won't be easy. Altantunya case is a murder case, and the burden of proof will be on the prosecutor, his accusers, Raja Petra, and etc. The proof has to be "beyond reasonable doubt".
The other way is via public perception. The free press, propaganda and opposition campaign helped to perpetuate this perception. But up to today, Anwar has yet to reveal documents of corrupt practise in the G-to-G purchases of Scorpene and Sukhoi claimed to be in his possession. After ten years, he has yet to reveal the six boxes he claim as evidence of corrupt practises during Dr Mahathir's administration.
Perception needs affirmation. Kuala Terengganu, not Permatang Pauh, is the by-election needed as argument to claim Najib is not acceptable to the people. Never mind that Wan Farid and brother, Wan Hashim is hated by the Terengganu local. Wan Hisham lost hands down for a state assemblyman seat during GE12 and it could spill over to Wan Farid. And, it doesn't matter that Wan Farid is Pak Lah and Khairy's choice.
Najib will be blamed for BN lost, even if all the odds are staked against the candidate. There is a strange feeling that they may want BN to lose. The presence of 6,000 police force in Kuala Terengganu is making the voters restless and building up a pent-up anger against BN. Is it really for security or designed for a certain purpose?
The saviour for Najib will be to impress on the people that Pakatan Rakyat with their hodgepodge of ideologies will not be an effective Government. Despite UMNO's internal problem and the teething pain of its political transformation, it has a track record, a clear direction in ideology, experiance in consensus building, and expected level of delivery.
As it is, PAS can't sit on their hudud claim. It is compromised by their partnership with DAP. The Pakatan Rakyat political in-road is lined with chaos and instability, denial of Malay and Islam rights, and disrespect for the Constitution.
Perhaps against all odds, BN is making inroad. They are beginning to gain ground. In anticipation of such outcome, the opposition is doing a propaganda that UMNO is on a vote-buying spree.
Coming back to Pak Lah, whether UMNO win or lose at KT, he will likely be the winner. He would want Dato Seri Ali Rustam to win the Deputy President of UMNO. Why?
In these days of strong opposition, one will not find the power transition in the manner between Muhammad Taib and Abu Hasan for Selangor MB post. BN could confidently switch Abu Hasan's parliamentary post for Muhammad Taib's state assemblymen post through a by-election and win.
With the G7 more touched by PR than substance, do not be surprise that Ali Rustam can beat the odd. If he wins, he will likely remain as Malacca Chief Minister. Suppose they manage to do a number on Najib and he has to resign, can one expect voices be saying, "Kami perlukan Pak Lah untuk kekal sekurang-kurangnya sampai pilihanraya akan datang."
Anyone notice Pak Lah as being oddly ambitous and busy for a lame duck PM? At the same time, he has his midnight regulation to turn a pumpkin into a golden chariot.
* Edit 11:00 pm
Malaysia Insider: US Postponed US-Malaysia FTA Talks