What will UMNO do?

Now that Dr M has delivered the ultimatum, what will UMNO members do? And more importantly, what will his son do?

Joceline Tan wrote a commentary on this issue in The Star today:

A desperate plea to UMNO

By resigning from Umno, Dr Mahathir has taken his long-running battle against his handpicked successor to a new and final level. Whether this gamble to force the party to decide pays off, remains to be seen.

THIS is Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s most dramatic move yet against his chosen successor Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Dr Mahathir was basically telling the Umno body politic that his differences with his successor were so severe that he can no longer remain in a party led by Abdullah. It is also an ultimatum to the Umno grassroots that he will remain in the political wilderness unless they change the leadership of Umno.

It was certainly not a spur of the moment move by the former PM.

Dr Mahathir is a very strategic and tactical man. He has his eye on the party’s branch and division meetings which will begin in July. These meetings will set the stage for the election of Umno leaders for the next three years.

It is probable that he is using this radical decision to trigger debate and force the Umno grassroots to seriously evaluate Abdullah’s leadership and to choose between Abdullah and him. If they want Abdullah as party president, then he has no choice but to be an Umno outcast, to perhaps even die outside of Umno.

“He seems to hate Pak Lah more than he loves Umno,” said Johor Baru MP Datuk Shahrir Samad.

It is unlikely that other Umno leaders will heed his call to leave the party. There is too much self-interest at stake.

“Tun Mahathir still loves Umno. This is an ultimatum for Umno members to show their dismay with the leadership and return the party to its original purpose,” said Mahathir loyalist Zakhir Mohamed.

But his move puts his son Datuk Mukhriz, who has ambitions to be the next Umno Youth leader, in a fix.

Said Shahrir: “Tun Mahathir has asked other Umno leaders to resign and I suggest that Mukhriz follow suit. He should also resign as Jerlun MP since he won the seat as an Umno candidate.”

Full article here.

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Shahrir has said it. Mukhriz should resign if he is to show any loyalty at all to his father. But wait, so much is at stake. Is Mukhriz going to be willing to risk his chances to accommodate his father’s sudden decision?

Joceline said that it wasn’t a “spur of the moment” decision, and she’s probably right. He would have did the calcs before making that big decision. But what’s it about rising up to a challenge?

ALOR STAR: The man who challenged Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to quit Umno is actually PAS member Ismail Wan Teh.

Ismail was wearing a non-governmental organisation’s hat when he asked Dr Mahathir if he would be willing to quit Umno as a sign of protest against Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s leadership.

Ismail asked if Dr Mahathir were willing to quit, as it would have a major impact on Umno.

Dr Mahathir who was probably not aware that Ismail was a PAS member, said it sounded like a challenge.

Full article here.

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Could it be that he truly had no other choice but to rise to the challenge? Was the challenge knowingly or unknowingly put forward? Did Ismail expect Dr M to answer in the affirmative?

This is truly war, but it’s not Dr M against UMNO. It’s a one-on-one fight between the ex-PM, and his chosen successor.

Who will win? Only time can tell.

But it would be interesting to note that there’s been so much hype around his decision to quit UMNO, that there hasn’t been much news on the Royal Commission Inquiry of the Lingam Tape, and we still don’t know whether the AG has decided anything yet or not. Perhaps this was also part of his “well-thought” plan?

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