The Truth About Khairy Jamaluddin – 25
The Truth About Khairy Jamaluddin continues here:
Part 25 – A New Deal: Running Out of Time
One of Khairy’s closest allies is a London-trained Malaysian-Indian lawyer who currently works for an international bank. Several years Khairy’s senior, he deliberately stays hidden from Khairy’s direct political and business links. This is not without reason. Although proud of Khairy’s achievements, he confides to his friends his innermost thoughts that Khairy is about to make the greatest mistake of his life. In fact, this person believes that Khairy stands at perhaps the shakiest moment in his entire career and that he is caught between the devil and the deep-blue sea — and that the moves Khairy makes may well lead to his downfall from which he will never recover.
Several months ago, the lawyer had gone to see Khairy to offer some friendly advice. He told Khairy in no uncertain terms that while he understands Khairy is intelligent enough to have his own reasons for doing things as he has done, Khairy should also be more cautious and wary. The lawyer advised Khairy that the latter was beginning to look like a ‘young man in a hurry’.
The advice was well meaning. In the past, Khairy had quietly listened to this lawyer friend and kept his own counsel. Often, he would be able to accept the criticism and act accordingly. But the Khairy of today is a very different man. Nowadays, such advice is dismissed as ‘unsolicited’. Khairy feels that his friends are getting too clever for their own good. He no longer feels obligated to listen to them, nor follow their advice. After all, if his friends knew better than him, surely they would be where he is today. Instead, it is he, the youngest of the clique, who managed to secure the highest position in the fastest time.
This attitude of Khairy bewilders many of his friends. The lawyer somehow feels that the reason Khairy is acting so poorly is because he has lost sight of reality. Power and wealth is a heady combination that has made Khairy very, very drunk and completely deaf to the voices of dissent that are beginning to gather around him. Even the closest of Khairy’s admirers feel that the recent months have shown that Khairy too can make false steps. He has replaced the friends who could give him sound advice and dispassionate views with Umno Youth lackeys who carry bags of money for him. Often, Khairy is accompanied by twenty-somethings with RM10,000 or more in brown paper envelopes, from which they dole out payments to loyal supporters at branch and division-level meetings. These sycophants are what remain of Khairy’s circle of friends.
Khairy’s actions over the last few months demonstrate immense immaturity and stupidity. The obvious corrupt and insider dealing involved in the purchase of ECM Libra and the use of government-owned Avenue Capital to bail out Khairy’s business cronies and make them multi-millionaires overnight are actions that could have been better handled and with greater finesse. Instead, its execution bears all the hallmarks of a rushed job, the handiwork of an amateur in politics and business. The image that Khairy portrays has transformed from an intelligent, confident young man to a greedy and corrupt opportunist. The ‘smooth operator’ has gone, to be replaced by the ‘grab-and-run’ conman.
Perhaps there is pattern in this madness. Maybe the fast-paced actions were not a headlong rush created out of chaos but a calculated attempt to salvage whatever remains of the teetering administration of Abdullah Badawi. The administration that started out promising Malaysians the sun and the moon, and that enjoyed the biggest majority since the General Election of 1955, has begun to be seen as the most inept and bumbling government ever. Abdullah Badawi is lurching from crisis to crisis; unable to deal with issues with the decisiveness that Malaysians have become so accustomed to over the last two decades or so. Swaying from right to left, Abdullah Badawi leads a government rife with internal conflict and unable to grapple with the simplest of ordinary issues.
Khairy knows that his future — political, business or otherwise — depends on Abdullah Badawi’s longevity in office. That now seems increasingly shaky. Unlike his predecessor, Abdullah Badawi is unable to capitalise on his strength in Parliament. Led astray by the silly ideas of people such as Nazri Aziz and Backbencher Club President Shahrir Abdul Samad, Abdullah Badawi lost control of his own Parliament and saw senators and backbenchers attacking his government with a ferocity unseen since the days of Tunku Abdul Rahman. While thinking that Parliament should be allowed more say, Abdullah failed to realise that many of the backbenchers could think and speak better than him or his menagerie of hapless ministers. As a result, when Parliament began to take up the mantle of criticising ridiculous government policies, Abdullah finds it difficult to respond in a convincing manner. Slowly, the rickety sinews that bind his fragile government begin to appear for all to see.
Abdullah’s ministers too have become a very serious liability. Many of them were promoted in spite of their complete uselessness. A good example is Shafie Salleh, who in any other administration would not have been worth more than a Parliamentary Secretary. Abdullah does not seem to realise that Shafie Salleh is completely dependent on a bunch of political secretaries and special officers who have the finesse of a bulldozer in running the most sensitive of ministries. Yet Abdullah cannot do anything about it because of own weakness and inability to judge good ministers. He is caught in a world of mediocrity and completely reliant on the Young Turks who were brought in by Khairy rather than his own ministers.
It is common knowledge that many cabinet ministers do not respect Abdullah. The recent episode of the nine non-Muslim ministers presenting a memorandum to Abdullah is a farce that would have been unthinkable in any other administration. The public is told that the ministers have withdrawn their memorandum and decided to present their case through the ‘proper channel’ of a cabinet meeting. However, in reality, this announcement was a lie and a desperate attempt by Abdullah’s spin-doctors to salvage the reputation of the bumbling prime minister.
What the public does not know is that the memorandum was presented by the ministers during a cabinet meeting and not outside as reported by the official press. Abdullah was so stunned by the presentation of the memorandum that he was speechless and did not know how to respond to it. At a loss for words, he tried to brush off the presentation by saying that he would ‘think about it’. By the time the news leaked to the press, Abdullah’s reputation had already suffered. Never in Malaysian history had a Prime Minister faced so bold a revolt from within his own cabinet, including from several of the presidents of key component parties in the Barisan Nasional.
So the decision was taken to use the media to lie to the public. Bernama and the usual bunch of brown-nosers at the NST were told to report that the memorandum was ‘improper’ as it had not been presented in a cabinet meeting. This gave Abdullah the chance to portray the ministers as being out of line. Najib Tun Razak was then immediately instructed to blast the ministers for acting ‘out of norms’ and ‘not in keeping with the BN spirit’. In actual fact, every one of the ministers in the XXL cabinet knew that the memorandum was duly presented in the most proper way and Abdullah had simply failed to respond correctly in the face of the biggest revolt since his assumption of the premiership.
It was one thing for the ministers to demonstrate blatant disrespect to Abdullah by submitting the memorandum, following that episode, several other ministers, including those from UMNO, gleefully leaked confidential cabinet papers proving that the nine ministers had indeed done the correct thing; and that it was Abdullah who had reacted improperly. During the UMNO Supreme Council meeting of 24 January 2006, two particular ministers closely allied to former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad even photocopied Cabinet minutes outlining the episode and circulated them to other UMNO leaders after the meeting ended.
During that meeting, while Abdullah was explaining the ‘misconduct’ of the nine non-Muslim ministers, one of the UMNO Supreme Council members received an SMS that said, “PM SILAP. MENTERI2 IKUT PROSEDUR”. The SMS had come from 019-331XXX2, the mobile phone number of a minister who sat directly across the said Supreme Council member. The same SMS was then circulated to several other Supreme Council members present in the meeting.
Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak looks at all this with great excitement. He tells friends that the situation is drastic, but he must play his cards carefully lest what befalls Anwar Ibrahim afflicts him too. He is of course acting with the utmost secrecy. Najib has been trying to find out if Abdullah is planning any moves that may become potential obstacles to his rise in power. Aware that Abdullah is communicating with Anwar Ibrahim through Khairy, Najib himself has tried to cushion the impact by making conciliatory moves to several members of Anwar Ibrahim’s camp. At the same time, Najib is laying the ground for trapping Khairy because, in the end, he knows that the last hope for Abdullah is to draw upon Khairy’s genius to save the day. Removing Khairy, therefore, would mean destroying Abdullah’s strategic base. Najib knows the old group around Abdullah Badawi is no longer 100% in support of the Prime Minister.
Some key supporters such as Nordin Kardi and Mahadzir Khalid are now estranged from their former ally, Thajudeen Abdul Wahab, Abdullah’s Chief Private Secretary. While all may be Khairy’s enemies, they have been rendered impotent by their own quarrel with each other. Thajudeen Abdul Wahab’s greediness in granting contracts to selected businessmen allied to him, over and above the recommendation of other long-time Abdullah supporters, has caused the old group to break up.
All of this is a cause for concern to Khairy. Time is fast running out and another big crisis will deal a body blow to the government of Abdullah Badawi. History teaches us that weak, insecure Prime Ministers last scarcely a term in office. Hussein Onn for example, although lauded upon his ascension as the anointed heir of Tun Razak, and a strict disciplinarian deemed able to keep Umno in check, fell unceremoniously after being challenged by that non-entity Sulaiman Palestin in the 1978 Umno elections.
Abdullah may not face such a challenge due to his own manipulation of Umno election rules, but he faces many other attacks from inside Umno. Umno division leaders openly laugh at his incapacity to control the government and seethe with anger at the sudden enrichment of his son-in-law. Sooner or later, the last fall will fall and the camel’s back will be broken and the Bedouin will be thrown off to hit the dust.
Khairy understands that Abdullah Badawi is fast becoming the biggest joke in Malaysian politics. Whether he likes to or not, Khairy must face the fact that he too will fall with Abdullah unless he acts fast with ruthlessness and decisiveness. His enemies are rapidly closing in on him and he must engage them now before it’s too late….
The Truth About Khairy Jamaluddin continues…in Part 26 – A New Deal: The bag-carriers