The Rahman Dahlan outburst

Sabah Umno leader Datuk Rahman Dahlan has made quite a number of “new fans” when he spoke against his party leadership’s decision in appointing its election director for the coming Sabah state election.

As we know, Umno appointed Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Raden to lead its election machinery for the state polls.

Bung Moktar is Sabah Umno chief (and also BN Sabah head), taking over from Tan Sri Musa Aman who was former Sabah chief minister.

Datuk Rahman Dahlan

Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in announcing the appointment said Bung had full autonomy to manage the election. This includes picking candidates and more importantly nominating BN’s chief minister candidate should the coalition win the September 26 election.

Under normal circumstances, Bung’s appointment is the most logical by virtue of the positions he holds in Sabah Umno and BN. Also, Sabah Umno enjoys autonomy status. But in this case, the circumstances are not normal, so to speak.

Hence, Rahman is opposing his party’s choice of Bung as election director. He feels the appointment would backfire on Umno.

“No party in the world would put someone who has an active court case and is attending court cases to become leader of the party going into the election,” Rahman told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur recently.

For the record, Bung is facing three corruption charges over bribes totaling RM2.8 million allegedly solicited during his tenure as Felcra chairman.

Therefore, as Rahman sees it, Bung’s appointment is a “suicidal move” as having Bung at the helm would mean Umno is “shooting itself on the foot”, forcing Umno to be on the defensive with one hand tied behind its back.

Never mind Rahman accused of pushing for himself or Musa as he is seen as an ally of Musa (but according to him, Musa had declined the role of election director). Musa was nevertheless involved in the failed political coup attempt to topple the Warisan-led state government last month.

Never mind also an Umno source was quoted in the media as saying Rahman’s outburst was because he felt slighted for not being consulted by Umno leadership before the decision to appoint Bung was made.

Whatever the reasons might be, many believe Rahman is “logical”, and his “new fans”, as said earlier in this article, include non-Umno members and people who even have a dislike for the party. To them, what Rahman said “makes a lot of sense”.

But naturally there are folks within the Umno fraternity concerned with Rahman’s blunt approach in pouring out his “grievances” as it can hurt the party.

One of them is former Umno youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

Rahman is a close friend of Khairy. They enjoyed cordial ties when both were in the Najib Razak administration.

When asked by the media for comments on Rahman questioning the decision made by the party leadership, Khairy responded by saying it’s best for all parties in Sabah Umno to resolve their internal matters especially with regards to the state election “behind closed doors”.

In short, he is calling for issues to be brought up and resolved in private and not out in the open.

Still having said that, Khairy is quoted as saying “I appreciate that Rahman has put his point across.”

Indeed Rahman has. And I’m not suggesting of “hidden messages” when he spoke out against Bung’s appointment. I’m sure he was talking solely in the context of the state of Sabah, Sabah Umno and Sabah state election.

However, there are questions to be asked. At least as I see it.

Rahman’s concerns on the appointment of Bung heading the Umno charge in the state election is based on the charges in court he is facing. Nothing personal I would say.

Hence, the big question is: Based on the same reasoning (or logic, if you like), can or should Zahid being Umno president lead the Umno challenge into GE15, snap election or otherwise?

Like Bung, the Umno president is also facing court charges (albeit multiple) which are on-going.

What about former Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak? In July he was found guilty by the Kuala Lumpur High Court of all seven charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering in relation to RM42 million belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd. And he has got other charges in court as well.

In the event of a snap election, Najib cannot contest because of his conviction.

He was sentenced to 12 years jail and a fine of RM210 million. He has appealed.

Meanwhile, he is still “politically active’. What more Zahid as he still has the locus standi to do so!

Should they lead Umno/BN into the next elections? Going by Rahman’s “case” against Bung’s appointment, the answer should be a “no”.

But can they join in the fray? Yes if they want to. At the very least, orchestrating the moves and pulling in the strings. Will they?

In trying to answer that question, let’s go back to Rahman’s outburst.

Zahid’s response was this: “It’s reasonable for Bung to lead the party machinery in facing the Sabah election,” he said.

In short, he is standing firm with his decision. No matter what Rahman’s concerns might be.

Therefore, as for the question whether Najib, and in particular Zahid, will helm Umno/BN into the next election, I think we can put two and two together. It’s simple math.

By : Mohsin Abdullah – SIN CHEW DAILY

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