Monday, January 22, 2007

Pak Lah's Losing It?

All within a week, the normally resilient Pak Lah is showing major signs of weakness. Despite his statements having undergone the sanitisation process in the local media, they are clearly reflecting his weak leadership as well as his inability to maintain a grip on his party, government and the country. Unconvincing responses given by Pak Lah on two separate issues over the past week painted a stumbling and fumbling Prime Minister.

1. US$50 billion fund-raising exercise

Copies of official documents have been circulated on the Internet with regards to a purported US$50 billion foreign fund-raising exercise by the Government. Check out Sdr Lim Kit Siang's post and Malaysiakini here. These documents implicated both the Pak Lah and Bank Negara conducting this exercise via dubious local and fraud-implicated foreign agents. The question then is, has the Malaysian Government been duped?

Instead of answering the question, Pak Lah's response was a incredibly weak “"I don't remember taking any (such US$50bil) loan. And I am the Minister of Finance.”

What type of answer is that? You either approved of such an exercise, or you didn't. You don't “don't remember” a US$50 billion fund raising exercise!

2. New Straits Times Publications (NSTP) – Utusan Malaysia Merger exercise

It was clear from earlier media statements since December that the Prime Minster and his deputy were pretty much behind the move to merge the two UMNO owned media entities in Malaysia. After much “deliberation” and sniping behind the scenes by UMNO Supreme Council members as well as Ministers themselves who objected to the move, the merger exercise has finally been called off.

This was after it has been reported in the media that the Supreme Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of aborting the exercise (43-8), despite the Prime Minister and his deputy voting in favour. It is probably the closest one can get to a rebellion within UMNO.

And what was the Prime Minister's public response?


He claimed that the decision to abort the proposed New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd (NSTP) and Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd merger is the “best decision”. The Prime Minister said he had had reservations when the proposal was first mooted. “But I thought it was best to give those who proposed it some time to consider it carefully.”

Again, what type of lame response is that? After supporting the proposal at the outset, he now says that it's the “best decision” and that he “had reservations”

It doesn't at all inspire confidence that the Prime Minister of the country don't remember if he had approved a US$50 billion whatever. How do you take a Prime Minister seriously, when he gives lame excuses when backtracking from his own proposals, claiming that he had doubts about them in the first place! Take the above with the very personal “old man breaking Khairy's rice bowl” comment in international press much earlier, it is no longer a question of tolerating a mediocre prime minister, but one that's fumbling badly and clumsily.

A prime minister who does not inspire any confidence will become a lame duck, just waiting to be hunted. The only question then, will be when?

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