Quietly, Najib works to keep Umno critics, warlords happy

  • MH370 suits in US might be scuttled by reluctance to hear foreign crash cases, reports NBC
    MH370 suits in US might be scuttled by reluctance to hear foreign crash cases, reports NBC

    Six weeks after flight MH370 vanished from the radar screens, experts said lawyers attracted to potentially lucrative fees might find United States federal courts reluctant to take up foreign crashes, and might even reject legal suits related to the missing Malaysia Airlines jet. US legal experts said the majority of discussions about... …

  • Missing boy found dead in reservoir
    Missing boy found dead in reservoir

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — The body of missing 11-year-old Khairul Azriel Abdul Razak, who fell into a monsoon drain near his school on Wednesday, was recovered in a reservoir at Kampung Berembang,... …

  • Interfaith group ‘worried’ that ex-judge can have such ‘racist’ views
    Interfaith group ‘worried’ that ex-judge can have such ‘racist’ views

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — An interfaith group expressed shock today at the “racist” views of a former high-ranking judge who had called the presence of large Hindu and Buddhist statues in the... …

  • Karpal and I never quarrelled even though we belonged to different parties, says Ling
    Karpal and I never quarrelled even though we belonged to different parties, says Ling

    Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh and former transport minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik never quarrelled or fought, despite being in different parties with competing ideas about politics. This was because the former MCA chairman and the late DAP stalwart had forged a friendship at university, which Dr Ling said stood the tests that politics threw at... …

  • Law students hold candlelight vigil for Karpal
    Law students hold candlelight vigil for Karpal

    A group of first-year law students held a candlelight vigil at the Esplanade in George Town, Penang, tonight for their idol, the late Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh. The students had planned an impromptu vigil for Karpal, who they credited with inspiring them to take up law as a career choice. “We planned the event on Facebook and word got... …

  • Michael Cornelius — Karpal’s loyal ‘other half’
    Michael Cornelius — Karpal’s loyal ‘other half’

    GEORGE TOWN, April 18 — Karpal Singh’s loyal aide Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu, who also died in the accident that killed Karpal yesterday, was almost like Karpal’s “other half”. The trained... …

More important for Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s longevity as president of Umno than last night’s Kuala Besut by-election victory has been his behind-the-scenes moves to hush the "fighters" in the party with plum positions and reach out to influential critics such as former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin.

Daim has been a persistent critic since the May 5 general elections returned Barisan Nasional (BN) to power but with fewer seats at parliament and state level than five years ago.

Chief among his complaints has been indecisive leadership of Najib (pic), wrong election strategy and penchant for listening to a collection of ineffective strategists.

And while Daim has spoken sparingly in public about his views on the PM and his deep concerns over the fate of the coalition in the next general election, individuals close to the former Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad strongman have been less reticent, keen to point out that Tun Abdullah Badawi was forced to make way after the BN coalition he led in 2008, won 140 parliamentary seats. In turn, Najib’s BN won seven fewer seats than Abdullah at parliamentary level.

On Monday, Najib and his wife reached out to Daim, attending a buka puasa function at the latter’s home in Taman Melawati, near Kuala Lumpur. While it remains to be seen if this approach by the PM will be sufficient to shut off the flow of criticisms against his style and substance of his leadership, it shows his willingness to put aside his pride and attempt to assuage even trenchant critics.

In recent weeks, Najib has also tried to appease Umno warlords known for their organisational skills on the ground and their caustic tongues, both important skills in the run-up to party elections in October.

Datuk Abdul Azeez Rahim, head of the Putera Umno wing, was appointed chairman of Tabung Haji, and former minister Datuk Seri Annuar Musa was made chairman of Mara.

Both these appointments did not go down well in corporate circles with questions being asked about the calibre and the standing of the two politicians to head these cash-rich organisations.

But Najib has ignored the gush of criticisms, preferring instead to focus on his strategic needs in an election year rather than the absence of gravitas of his appointments to top positions in government-linked companies.

The Business Times has also reported that Umno strongman Datuk Seri Ali Rustam is likely to be tapped as the head of Perbadanan Nasional Berhad (PNB) to replace former Chief Secretary to the Government Tun Ahmad Sarji.

Ali could be appointment as the Umno secretary-general but there are indications that he would prefer to contest for one of the three vice-president positions.

Other Umno politicians who have been rewarded or who are likely to be given positions in government agencies or GLCs are former Johor menteri besar Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Othman, former deputy minister Datuk Othman Abdul and vociferous backbencher Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin.

Still even with his backroom moves in full flow, Najib was keen to capitalise on Umno’s victory in the Kuala Besut by-election. He told Bernama last night that the victory was a signal of Umno’s continued strength.

Umno Youth‘s Khairy Jamaluddin said during the campaign period that the result in the by-election would have some bearing on Najib’s political fortunes.

But in reality, the campaign was run by deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin and Umno was expected to regain the seat easily. Its 2,592-vote majority was a slight increase over what the party achieved on May 5 and the opposition were quick to point out that the winning margin was some way off the 4,000 majority predicted by Umno’s Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh at the onset of the contest.

Critics also said that the BN government spent more than RM300 million and this unprecedented amount of funds for a small state constituency only translated to a slight increase in votes.

But a victory is a victory and what the win in Kuala Besut does is that it gives Najib some breathing space to reach out to the likes of Daim and other critics in the party and persuade them that he has what it takes to prevent Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Pakatan Rakyat from making further gains in five years. - July 25, 2013.

Follow @YahooMalaysia on LINE for daily news updates.

Comments on Yahoo pages are subject to our link to Comments Guidelines. You are responsible for any content that you post. Yahoo is not responsible or liable in any way for comments posted by its users. Yahoo does not in any way endorse or support comments made by its users.

  • Told to ‘shut up’ on Twitter, Zul Noordin lashes back at Khairy The Malay Mail Online
    Told to ‘shut up’ on Twitter, Zul Noordin lashes back at Khairy

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — A feud is breaking out between former Perkasa vice president Datuk Zulkifli Noordin and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin on Twitter. Told unequivocally by the minister... …

  • Langkawi BN MP pokes fun at Karpal Singh’s remains The Malaysian Insider
    Langkawi BN MP pokes fun at Karpal Singh’s remains

    As the nation mourns the passing of a great politician, BN MP Datuk Nawawi Ahmad insulted the late Karpal Singh by posting a picture of the veteran politician's blood-smeared face as he lay in his Toyota Alphard following a tragic accident this morning. Along with the Facebook picture was a newspaper cutting on Karpal being opposed to the... …

  • Karpal’s car crashed into lorry, not the other way around, says Perak police The Malaysian Insider
    Karpal’s car crashed into lorry, not the other way around, says Perak police

    Initial investigations have revealed that Karpal Singh’s Toyota Alphard crashed into a five-ton lorry in the accident yesterday that claimed his life and that of his assistant, Perak police said today. State police chief Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani also dismissed rumours and speculation that the accident was caused by the lorry crashing... …