Let's take a breather from the MAS-Air Asia issue for the weekend.
If someone were to say Kedah can be takenover three months ago, he or she would have been laughed off as a political novice with no knowledge of the ground.
This is especially so with the UMNO warlord problems in Kedah so endemic.
There is Det Khalid in one corner, Jo B (or Jo Derhaka for what he did to Tun M) in another corner, Bashah in another, and many others in their little turfs and kingdoms all over the state.
Even the likes of old Dato Bakaq of Langkawi still has dreams of contesting in the next general election.
"Mampuih!" as any Kedahan in their distinct accent would have reacted.
In the last Pergong, bet no one knows that Pergong is also PAU or Perhimpunan Agung UMNO, I met up my old school buddy, brother Noradzman Baharuddin, who is NST Alor Star Bureau Chief. We chatted for hours to catch up on family, my recent Hajj and politics.
That is how brotherly close we are in residential schools. We could have left school more than 35 years ago but we never lose sight of each other and the camarederie is as strong as ever.
He told me it is feasible for UMNO to retake Kedah.
Coming from Mantoi (as I would call him and he would call me by some M nickname too), who has been covering the political beat up north for decades, he is worth a serious listen.
One, there are many seats won over by PAS are lost by UMNO marginally. UMNO lost Tanjung Dawai by 79 votes, Jeneri by 167 votes, Bukit Lada by 208 votes, Ayer Hangat by 506 votes, and Pantai Merdeka by 503 votes; all to PAS.
Kota Darulaman was lost to DAP by 804 votes. Yet, we almost at will giving up Kota Seputeh which we won by 495 votes because Datuk Abu Hasan Sharif "absence" from State Assembly.
All the information is no big secret. It is widely available on the Internet.
Two, there is a power struggle boiling in the PAS cerek. There is an organised effort to bring down Kedah Menteri Besar Dato Azizan Abdul Razak within the PAS circle of power.
It is believed to be orchestrated by Mahfudz Omar. Whether he is interested to pursue the Menteri Besar post, it is unsure. However, it has strained relation between Azizan, who was recently admitted to IJN for heart problem, with senior exco member, Fakhrolrazi.
The PAS's potential second in line and friend of ours, the grassroot popular Amiruddin is losing focus.
Nevertheless, the odds are Azizan will still run.
Three, business community have grown fed-up and public are tired with unresolved public issues since the Azizan flood debacle.
This Mantoi had written.
Kedah business community fast losing confidence in state government
Noor Adzman Baharuddin
Ah Fatt is a very frustrated businessman.
So is Lingam, another member of the Kedah business community.
Equally stymied is Lingam’s neighbour, Ahmad.
One of them peddles in hardware, another runs a sundry shop while the other, operates an eaterie.
There are no prizes for anyone who can guess who trades in what but the men are seething with frustration over their decision to 'kaleh' (switch) to the opposition in the last general election.
Since Mar 8, 2008, the trio claimed the state government has offered little or no economic opportunities to the people.
"What sejahtera (well-being) is there when the state has failed to churn out new economic activities for the people, especially small businessmen like me?" Laments Lingam as he questioned the Pas-led state government's Kedah Sejahtera 2008 general election manifesto.
Ahmad chided the state government for failing to live up to its promises.
"We can’t just depend on 'pasar malam's and the ocassional 'karnivals' to sell our wares," he said, still reeling from his poor call at the ballot box about four years ago.
Ah Fatt had counted on expanding his business but the opportunities were far and few between.
"What do you expect, they could not even handle the ikan keli (catfish) project," he said of the RM400,000 losses suffered by the state government when its organic Keli-K aquaculture in Sik failed after two years of operation.
The traders’ concerns generally reflect the frustration of the local business community.
And yes, as business people, they tend to keep their frustration or disappointment, especially with the government of the day, to themselves - they only expressed their resentment in the ballot box!
On this score, one can't help but be reminded of the concern raised by former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin on the possibility of Penang, Selangor and Kedah falling into the hands of the opposition after the last general election!
Though small compared to the business communities in industrial states like Penang and Selangor, members of the business fraternity in Kedah is a force to be reckoned with. They had played a pivotal role in tilting the scale in the opposition's favour in the last general election.
The business community, especially among Chinese traders, were disillusioned by the country’s past leadership.
Like Ah Fatt, Lingam and Ahmad, they took out their frustrations on the Kedah Barisan Nasional by abandoning it.
This factor was a major cause for the marginal losses suffered by BN at seven of its strongholds to the opposition.
In Tanjung Dawai, for instance, the BN lost by a mere 79 votes to Pas.
For the record, Pas won 16 of the 36-seat State Legislative Assembly in 2008. BN won 14, PKR five and DAP one.
However, two PKR assemblymen have since abandoned their party to become independents.
Some argued that the troubles for the Pas-led state government, especially with Chinese traders and the rest of their community, started when the authorities decided to demolish a pig abattoir in Alor Star about a year after the new state government took over.
There was a big hue and cry over the authorities’ handling of the case, especially when a replacement slaughterhouse was never really properly identified.
Then came another boo-boo when the authorities, a few days before the fasting month this year, issued a directive ordering all karaoke outlets in the state to cease operations throughout Ramadan.
This really irked the karaoke operators, many of them Chinese.
The authorities finally relented. The outlets could stay open but must turn away Muslim patrons.
Kedah BN leaders and members have been deluged with many opportunities.
They should step up to the plate. They should make amends while some, make way. This is imperative to achieve holistic transformation for the party.
The state of disillusionment afflicting the business community should work in BN's favour in the next general election.
It did for the opposition pact in Penang, Selangor and Kedah in 2008.
But, and a big but it is, UMNO Kedah need to get organised and resolve their internal problems. We both agree. And we back to square one.
09 December 2011
'Whos' who should head for the exit
By Noor Adzman Baharuddin
All Umno members must be Khalid al-Walids as much as they canDelegates supporting the minutes tabled at the Umno general assembly recently. The take-home message was ‘Umno before self’. Pic by Aizuddin Saad
UMNO president Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said that the party, which leads the ruling Barisan Nasional, is ready to face the general election.
The prime minister, who is also BN chairman, also said at the Umno annual general assembly recently that more new faces would be fielded in the next general election -- both for Umno and the ruling coalition.
Closer to home, Kedah Umno could help make Najib's task easier as he makes changes and decides on the winnable candidates for the state.
And change Kedah Umno must. It must heed Najib's call for political transformation, especially after BN's dismal performance in the 2008 general election.
Without naming names, most Kedah Umno members and "orang Umno Kedah" know "who" should give way.
Equally important are those "whos" should be shown the way.
The first group of "whos" is fewer than the second "whos".
The first "whos" are assemblymen who are not quite up the mark. And they know who they are.
The second group comprises "problematic" assemblymen, those caught in legal tangles and those allegedly involved in abuse of power.
There is a third group of which the party leadership needs to be wary. They jostle to be candidates but have no or poor track records, including some at the divisional level.
This group includes those who behaved in a manner that was detrimental, including sabotage, to Umno and BN in the last general election and in a few cases, in previous general elections, too.
This handful, some of whom also behaved like warlords, might have escaped disciplinary action but "orang Umno Kedah" know who they are and the rogue few also know who they are.
The majority of the people of Kedah made their choice in 2008. Kedah Umno members and their leaders can help them decide in the party's and BN's favour in the next general election.
Umno has done a lot for its members and it is time they repaid the party. To rephrase an oft-quoted line, Umno members must ask not what the party can do for them but what they can and should do for the party.
They must heed Najib's Umno-before-self call.
They must be magnanimous and help the party president rebuild and strengthen Umno. If there is an opportunity for them to help Umno, then this is the time.
BN lost Kedah in the last general election not because the opposition was strong but because Umno and the ruling coalition were weak.
Of the total 36 state seats, Umno won 12 while Gerakan and MCA won one each. Umno lost seven of its strongholds, including Tanjung Dawai, where it lost to Pas by a mere 79 votes.
In Jeneri, Umno lost to Pas by 167 votes and Bukit Lada by 208 votes.
Local issues, especially involving grassroots leadership, influenced the outcome. Poor choice of candidates and sabotage stood out as the culprits.
Najib must be firm and, as the saying goes, must be seen to be firm. There must be no flip-flops and stern action must be taken (and be seen to be taken) against those who betrayed the party in any way, shape or form.
This analysis by no means serves as the only remedy to Kedah Umno and BN's ills.
Some changes with Umno incumbents and the introduction of new faces and, by extension, changes and new faces for Kedah BN, must also be considered.
Najib has come a long way on damage control for Umno and BN. Numerous policies and programmes have helped to recapture the hearts and minds of the people, including those who had abandoned the ruling coalition in 2008.
All the promises and sumpah bai'ah (oath of loyalty) made by Umno grassroots leaders at the Putra World Trade Centre last Saturday would mean nothing if they do not honour their word.
Najib had cited the sacrifices by Khalid al-Walid, one of the most feared and successful Islamic generals, who willingly stepped down as army commander at the request of caliph Umar.
A strong believer that Islam takes precedence over everything else, including oneself, he soldiered on.
And Umno members must all try to be Khalid al-Walids as much as they can.
Incidentally, Khalid's successor, Abu Ubaidah, appointed him as head of the cavalry and as a military adviser.
Heard that Bashah is so pathetic at getting organised that he had an overnight meeting to prepare and submit Election Manifesto for a long given next day deadline.
I am not bitching Bashah in order to promote Mukhriz. Perish that thought.
Mukhriz can't be Ketua Perhubungan Negeri (yet). He hardly holds an elected post of any significance at the Division level.
Mukhriz has his problems, lots of problems. Starting with his rather distant personality.
He is still too urbane for a wakil rakyat representing a rural area. He goes around like a VIP and comfortable to be treated as invited guests by program organisers. And, he falls short of meeting the not-easy-to-describe Kedahan leadership quality called hemoih.
Now that he is no more a Pemuda leader, I am no more going to be polite and private to my friend but be brutally honest and open. I am neither on his payroll nor under his instruction.
Mukhriz is in the big boys league, so stop hanging around boys. Being a nice guy is not enough to be a leader. He has to take charge and lead men. He can't depend on volunteers alone but build his army of supporters and followers.
Be a Mahathir, not a Hasmah. And be himself.
He should stop his dependency as son of Mahathir and Hasmah. Even Nurjazlan stopped opening his speech with a kirim salam from Tok Mat, naturally.
As for plan to place Mukhriz at a State Assembly seat to make way for Kedah MB post, he should be careful. It could be a plan to send him back to work at his fiber optic factory and kill his political career.
If he loses, he is finished. But if he wins, things will be alright. But with Kedah UMNO's present state of organisation, can UMNO Kedah win?
Bear in mind, if he wins but Kedah UMNO loses, he could be blamed for it. The perception is that he is in charge of the UMNO charge for Kedah.
So, back to Mantoi or my friend, Encik Noradzman Baharuddin. He writes his column on Friday NST on Kedah issues, including politics. It is long overdue that he be given a column to write anyway.
So take note of my buddy.
I sure hope Mukhriz and his team do take note and engage him. He can be a useful source of information and contacts.
To get his cooperation, treat him with respect. Dia bukan budak hinguih, tau.