Datuk Seri Najib Razak dan musuh politiknya Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim kedua-duanya di Jakarta hari ini, terdapat kemungkinan diadakan pertemuan yang mungkin akan membantu perdana menteri mengelakkan persaingan di Parlimen dan partinya sendiri selepas keputusan buruk Pilihan Raya 2013.
The Malaysian Insider difahamkan, pertemuan itu telah cuba diaturkan semenjak sekurang-kurangnya seminggu lalu, dikala Najib hampir pasti dicabar dalam pemilihan Umno tahun ini dan berkemungkinan akan berhadapan dengan usul undi tidak percaya selepas Parlimen mula bersidang pada 24 Jun.
Difahamkan Menteri Dalam Negeri Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, yang rapat dengan kedua-dua pemimpin, telah ditugaskan untuk mengaturkan pertemuan tersebut. Beliau kini berada di Jakarta untuk lawatan dua hala.
“Pertemuan telah diaturkan dengan Najib sebelum Anwar berjumpa Presiden Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pada Sabtu,” kata sumber kepada The Malaysian Insider.
Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah telah bertemu dengan ahli-ahli Parlimen Barisan Nasional (BN) untuk berbincang mengenai percubaan beliau mengambil alih kepimpinan dalam Dewan Rakyat yang mempunyai 222 kerusi sementara timbalan kepada Najib Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin mungkin menjadi pencabarnya dalam pemilihan Umno hujung tahun ini.
Kebanyakkan penganalisis politik mengatakan Najib terlalu popular, lebih dari partinya, untuk hilang jawatan dalam kerajaan dan parti.
“Akan tetapi Najib berhadapan dengan dua serangan terhadapnya, jadi dia perlu mencari sekutu,” kata sumber lain kepada The Malaysian Insider, mengatakan ironinya Anwar juga mahukan jawatan tertinggi itu.
Tidak diketahui sama ada presiden Indonesia sedar mengenai pertemuan di ibu kota negaranya akan tetapi bekas timbalan presiden Indonesia pernah menjadi pengantara kepada kedua-dua pemimpin sebelum pilihan raya 5 Mei untuk kempen pilihan raya aman.
Akan tetapi Kalla mengatakan persepakatan gagal selepas Anwar memulakan kempen di seluruh negara untuk membantah keputusan Pilihan Raya 2013. Pemimpin PKR itu mengatakan Najib tidak pernah menandatangani perjanjian itu walaupun terdapat persetujuan mulut.
Pemimpin Malaysia, terutamanya dari Umno, telah diketahui mengadakan pertemuan sulit di Jakarta - hanya mengambil masa dua jam penerbangan dari Kuala Lumpur, bagi mengelakkan publisiti dan gossip.
Najib dan Anwar diketahui mempunyai hubungan rapat dengan pemimpin Indonesian yang mahu melihat kestabilan di negara jiran mereka Malaysia – menggajikan dua juta rakyat Indonesia dari profesional, buruh dan pembantu rumah.
Kedua-dua Anwar dan Najib merupakan sebahagian daripada Team Wawasan yang memenangi jawatan tertinggi dalam pemilihan Umno 1993, dengan Muhyiddin, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib dan Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik.
Umno memecat Anwar pada 1998 dan bekas timbalan presiden parti itu berhadapan dengan pertuduhan liwat dan rasuah di mahkamah sementara Muhammad meninggalkan parti sebelum pilihan raya bulan lalu.
Zahid pada ketika itu merupakan sekutu Anwar dan ketua Pemuda Umno yang menggunakan terma Indonesia KKN untuk korupsi, kronisme dan nepotisme dalam serangan terhadap bekas perdana menteri paling lama berkhidmat, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad semasa perhimpunan Umno 1998.
Beliau ditahan di bawah Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) sementara Anwar dipecat dari jawatan timbalan perdana menteri dan timbalan presiden Umno sebulan selepas perhimpunan parti itu.-The Malaysian Insider
Najib, Anwar in Jakarta, speculation mounts of possible meeting...
Datuk Seri Najib Razak and political arch-rival Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim are in Jakarta today, fueling talk of a meeting that could help the prime minister face down possible rivals in parliament and his own party after poor results in Election 2013.
The Malaysian Insider understands that the meeting has been in the works for at least a week, just as Najib is facing a likely challenge in the Umno elections this year end and a possible motion of no confidence after parliament convenes on June 24.
It is learnt that Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is close to both leaders, has been tasked to facilitate the meeting. He is in Jakarta for a bilateral visit.
"A meeting has been set up with Najib before Anwar meets Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Satuday," a source told The Malaysian Insider.
Aides to both leaders are tightlipped about the meeting but sources say the duo have a common interest in preventing other challengers for the prime minister's post.
Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has been meeting disgruntled Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmakers this past week to discuss his leadership bid in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat while Najib's deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, has been coy about a possible challenge in Umno polls this year end.
Most political analysts say Najib is too popular, even more than his party, to lose his government and party posts.
"But Najib is facing twin strikes against him, so he needs to find some allies," another source told The Malaysian Insider, noting the irony that Anwar himself wanted the country's top post.
It is not known if the Indonesian president is aware of the talks in his capital city but former Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla mediated between both leaders before the May 5 general elections for a peaceful electoral campaign.
But Kalla had said the deal broke after Anwar began a nationwide campaign to protest the Election 2013 results. The PKR leader said Najib never signed the pact despite a verbal agreement.
Malaysian leaders, especially Umno, have been known to hold private meetings in Jakarta, which is about two hours flight from Kuala Lumpur, to avoid publicity and gossip.
Najib and Anwar are known to have close ties with Indonesian leaders, who are keen to see stability in neighbouring Malaysia which employs some two million Indonesian professionals, workers and housemaids.
Both Anwar and Najib were part of the Team Wawasan or Vision Team that swept through top posts in the 1993 Umno polls, with Muhyiddin, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib and Datuk Seri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik.
Umno sacked Anwar in 1998 after he was fired on sodomy and corruption charges while Muhammad left the party before last month's general elections.
Zahid was the then Anwar ally and Umno Youth leader who used the Indonesian term KKN for corruption, cronyism and nepotism in a thinly-veiled attack against Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the 1998 Umno assembly.
He was briefly held under the Internal Security Act (ISA) while Anwar was fired as deputy prime minister and deputy Umno president on sodomy and corruption charges just months after that assembly.-The Malaysian Insider
Najib likely to face leadership challenge...
One month after GE13, attention has turned to the Umno election. Rumours are already circulating about possible challengers to the ruling party's No 1 post. While the Black 505 rallies continue to mobilise protest against the May 5 general election that many recognise as seriously flawed, the dominant political party is myopically focused on its party polls and who will lead the party after October.
The flurry of activity in recent weeks - from the call to make Umno more inclusive ethnically to the pleas for the return of the 2,000 delegates as electors (rather than 146,500 members) are all part of the now intensifying internal Umno political jockeying.
All eyes are on the contest for the top leadership position, especially given that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak performed poorer electorally compared to his predecessor and did not fully deliver on his promise of winning back Selangor and a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
More and more calls are being made to keep the two top positions uncontested. In Umno, however, the real politics is happening behind the scenes. The grassroots are mobilising for the first stage of the party electoral process - the divisional polls.
Despite the public rhetoric, current conditions point to a competitive contest, in which if conditions do not radically change, Najib will likely face a credible and substantive challenge to his position.
There are five underlying factors that point to a challenge:
First, the modus operandi in Umno is money politics. This was a legacy of the Mahathir years and has become deeply entrenched, feeding into the concerns over corruption and governance. For many of the delegates, they join the party for the perks and invest in positions for potential financial gains.
Elections are an integral part of the financial rewards in the system as they involve the distribution of incentives. The logic is simple - the more the competition within the party, the more the incentives. Given the modus operandi in Umno, there are vested interests in fueling contests.
The higher the level of competition, the greater the promise of rewards. This election involves more people, so competition is costly, involving mass outlays of funds to more people than ever before. Part of the call for the return to the old 2,000-delegate system is driven by this economic ‘money politics' reality.
There is a tension here between those who would like to minimise costs, with those who would like to receive dividends. The numbers are on the receiving ends, thus the systemic pressure for greater competition.
Second, Umno as a party is deeply factionalised. This is not unique. In fact for dominant one-party system this is the norm, as seen in Taiwan, Japan and Mexico. All political parties have some degree of internal divisions. These divisions, however, feed into competition as the leadership has to accommodate the various warlords.
In some cases, such as recently in Negeri Sembilan, the leadership has had to take sides on who to elevate to positions in the state government. Warlordism fuels competition by bringing national politics to the state level and vice-versa. Currently, the intensity of conflict at the state level and underlying resentment against Umno's current leadership for perceived favouritism contributes to pressure for more leadership competition. Malay chauvinism under challenge
Third, Umno as a party is being pressured to reform its identity after GE13. To be more precise, its Malay chauvinism is being challenged. The challenge is taking the form of calls to move the party into a more multi-ethnic entity, and be more inclusive of non-Malays. This is in response to the effective death of the BN as a multi-ethnic power-sharing coalition in GE13.
This measure initially mooted by Najib has yielded a strong reaction from the rank and file, who have come out of a polls where ethnic Malay chauvinism was stoked and ignited to bring the party faithful together against the opposition. The disconnect between the multi-ethnic initiative promoted by a national leader seeking national representation and the party grassroots embedded in their ethnic nationalist framework is real, and has caused disgruntlement among some and anger among others.
The push to maintain the openness in the party electoral system taps into this, as more numbers can openly display their rejection of transforming the party outside of Dr Mahathir Mohamad's Malay chauvinist mode.
Fourth, there is the reality of generational pressures within the party. Najib was not successful in having many of ‘his men' elected in GE13, as he hoped to garner a new cadre of leaders to support his push to consolidate his position within the party. After all, he has yet to be elected to the presidency.
The push for younger, new faces remains, but the bottleneck in the leadership is substantive. The impact is that younger leaders will by nature ally with different actors with the hope of moving up the ranks in a system that has been slow to engage in generational transformation.
Finally, amidst the structural concerns is the long-standing push for statesmanship. Many in Umno hark back to the good old days when Umno leaders were respected across the Malaysian society, and seen as national leaders to be proud of. There is division within Umno, and nationally, regarding Najib's leadership as well as his statesmanship.
He has not taken a prominent role post-GE13, and this raises questions. Najib, like his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, faces the difficulty of meeting conflicting demands and higher expectations. This push for ‘statesmanship' leadership will be a driver for some of the potential contenders for power.
Najib seeks new allies
These party dynamics - money politics, warlord factionalism, party identity, generational pressures and statesmanship - all contribute to increased possibilities of a leadership challenge and greater party contention. At issue will be the new electoral system, the timing of the polls (with early polls apparently favoured by Najib) and the composition of the challenge itself.
The question being asked is whether Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is 66 last month, will feel this is his last chance to take a shot at the top spot or someone else steps up to the challenge. Also openly being discussed is Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, 76, who has shown a willingness to contest for Umno president in the past. It is unlikely, given the systemic issues at play, that no one will step forward.
Despite the questions around GE13 and the continued concerns with electoral irregularities, Umno feels victorious and is being portrayed as the ‘winner,' contributing to more risk-taking and competition.
We have seen after the May 5 general election, new alliances are being forged - at least temporarily - ahead of the Umno polls. Najib has brought many of the Abdullah allies into the cabinet and he has reached out to Sabah.
He has not significantly rocked the warlord interests in most of the states as he sought more allies. His biggest ‘new' ally appears to be Mahathir who said there was 'no alternative' to Najib in a speech in Japan. But history has shown that Mahathir's fidelity as an ally is uncertain at best.
Najib has simultaneously thrown down the gauntlet by not giving Muhyiddin a senior cabinet position and holding his people at bay by not including them in the cabinet. The contest effectively began when the GE13 results came in, continued with the cabinet selection and is ongoing. The strategy of the marginalisation of Muhyiddin has begun.
In the weeks ahead, the backroom politics will only intensify. It is much too early to write off a challenge. In fact, current conditions suggest the opposite - a growing competition within Umno.
Najib will rely on the incumbency advantage, something which he had used effectively in GE13. But despite the power of incumbency, Najib's position should not yet be seen as secure, as he has to pass the test of his party in what may very well be the fiercest contests for the party leadership yet.-Bridget Welsh,malaysiakini
Najib bakal dicabar jawatan Presiden UMNO