Monday, April 14, 2008

Momentum building for Pak Lah to make way

(The Malaysian Insider) KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today that he will speak to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi about the road map and the time frame for the transition of power — the first time he has said so publicly.

The deputy prime minister was forced to do so after hearing Perak divisional leaders vent their anger at the Prime Minister over the poor electoral performance. Many of the division chiefs also said that Abdullah should chart the transition of power to Najib soon, with one even suggesting that it be done before Umno branches begin meeting in mid- July.

Like the other party post-election meetings in Penang and Kedah, there was a mood of anger in Perak against Abdullah for Umno’s poor showing in Election 2008. This boiled over when a party member barged into the meeting and started heckling others, leading to a scuffle.

This disturbance brought the curtain down on the meeting. Perak is one of the four states which fell to the Opposition on March 8. Some speakers acknowledged that Umno members too had to shoulder blame for the rejection by voters.

A division chief and state assemblyman told the Insider: “The word collective responsibility was used several times but there was a consensus that Pak Lah needs to make way soon.”

He said party members know that Abdullah wants to hand over power in 2010 but are wondering whether it will be too late to save the party by then.

“Can we be assured that Pak Lah can make the party strong again by 2010? Will it still be intact by then? These are the questions that party members are asking,” he said. The sentiment on the ground is that it is too risky to allow Abdullah to carry on with his 2010 handover plan.

The mood at the Perak meeting was hostile and there were calls for the Prime Minister to hand over power quickly.

Perak Umno officials say that if there is no clear transition of power plan, branches will criticise him and even pass resolutions against the leadership when they start meeting from mid-July.

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