The Malaysian Insider: SEPT 26 – The decision by the Umno Supreme Council to postpone the party polls till March next year will have a major impact on many of the big players in the party. Below is the Malaysian Insider’s take on who benefits from it and who loses big time.

WINNERS

• Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak:

After Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi does the inevitable and announces that he will not seek re-election as party president, nearly all 191 nominations from the divisions will flow to Najib.

This new transition plan works for the Deputy Prime Minister like a dream. By persuading Abdullah to accept the March transition plan, he has managed to remove the two impediments to the top job in the party – the possibility of him having to face the wrath of the ground by continuing to stay with Abdullah or the possibility of having to confront Abdullah in a no-holds barred contest.

Not too shabby for someone who only a few months ago was having to defend himself against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Opposition leader implicated Najib in the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shariibuu and accused him of benefiting in several defence deals while Dr Mahathir accused him of being a coward by not forcing Abdullah out of office after Election 2008.

With Abdullah all but gone, Dr Mahathir will probably rejoin Umno, team up with Najib and fight Anwar. Najib will inherit a united Umno.

• Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin:

He wore the broadest grin today. Not surprising since today was a victory of sorts for the party vice-president.

He has been leading the charge within Umno to force Abdullah to step down since March 8, moving his criticisms from behind closed doors to public forums. Muhyiddin’s main plank of attack was that the party and Barisan Nasional has lost confidence in the PM.

When Abdullah and Najib agreed on the 2010 transition plan, it seemed that Muhyiddin’s efforts were going to end up in tears. But the BN defeat in Permatang Pauh in August galvanised Muhyiddin and other critics of Abdullah.

They whipped up the percolating anti-Abdullah sentiment, making it difficult for either the PM or DPM to ignore them. Now as critic-in-chief, he is poised to be the favourite to suck up most of the nominations for the deputy president’s position.

• Datuk Zaid Ibrahim:

Zaid’s decision to resign from the Cabinet seems to be the correct one in the light of the supreme council decision. In all likelihood, the prime minister is going to be in a lame duck position until the end of his term in March.

It would be a major surprise if Abdullah manages to make any headway with the Judicial Appointments Commission and other judicial reforms.

If Zaid had stayed on in the Cabinet, he would have been occupying space, nothing more. His protector would have been powerless to offer him any cover from the Umno warlords or keep his promise of improving the judiciary.

LOSERS

• Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi:

He has never wanted this type of send-off. In discussions with friends and political supporters, Abdullah made it clear that he wanted to leave on his own terms.

This became challenging after March 8 when the BN lost its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament and four states to the Opposition.

But he regrouped and promised to complete the reforms which he promised Malaysians in his first term of office.

A combination of paralysis of action, dancing to his party’s tune and inability to match Anwar’s vibrancy led him to a cul-de-sac.

Yet he appeared to have pulled off a miraculous escape in July when his plan to hand over power to Najib in 2010 was endorsed by the supreme council.

For a while, it looked like he had bought himself two years to complete his reforms and salvage his legacy.

Anwar’s resounding victory in Permatang Pauh stunned party members and once again, Abdullah or rather his failures became the focus of Umno members.

From then on, it became evident that Abdullah would face a tough time convincing his party men that he deserved their support.

The March timetable is nothing more than a face-saving way of showing Abdullah the exit. He is not leaving on his own terms.

• Many division chiefs and senior Umno politicians:

Postponing the party elections will hit some of these warlords hard in the pocket. Many of them have been spending a great deal of money, and now they will have to loosen their purse strings right up till March.

The winners in March may well turn out to be those with the deepest pockets.

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Excerpt from Mkini Q&A (full article here – subscription reqd):

On the early transition, are you under tremendous pressure to quit?

No, nothing to do with that. Everything has got to do with my work, when I am done with my work, then I am done.

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Soooo.. AAB, what exactly have you done since 2004? You won big in 2004 because TDM stepped down. And you lost big in 2008 because you didn’t do anything since. That about sums up your legacy. Now run along, quickly and go far away coz there’s real work to be done to repair the damage you’ve done.