If you are not an Anwarista, you might want to be one now. In a cloak and dagger manoeuvre to retain power in his own party, Abdullah Badawi has given the Finance Ministry to Najib Razak.
Were you a romantic – you might think how so poetic, the son of the Umno man that set out to grab the finance portfolio from MCA forever, is finance minister now.
Tears rolling, grab the Kleenex.
Are you a worrier? Then worry on. Mr 10 percent now gets to write the national cheques. No more will he worry about getting around the prime minister or anyone before he goes shopping.
He has literally a blank cheque book.
Don’t be hoodwinked. This is a power transfer, just done in a way not to undermine Badawi. We are going to have two symbolic heads for the country. The king and then Badawi.
The defence ministry
What was the Najib track record for the ministry?
The RM4.5 billion purchase of three submarines – which included the RM510 million payment to Razak Baginda’s company in 2002, and the 18 Sukhoi purchases for RM3 billion. Which means we are going to spend probably 20-30% of the purchase price in the next 10 years for maintenance and spare parts.
Don’t care for your machine, and you lose your machines. The high maintenance and spare parts price is because we don’t have the technology here, so it is often going to be foreign expertise to keep these ‘hi-tech’ buys in good shape
So as people our losses did not end with the purchase. This is not touching the various naval ships the boustead group is building for the navy worth RM5.35 billion.
All these billions have been mounted during the Pekan MPs tenure. Even without being defence minister he has the network of suppliers and local middlemen who will be licking their lips with this opportunity – since the incoming minister who is coincidentally the prime minister – has the technology knowledge of a missionary in a remote Pacific island in the 18th century.
Mayhem is written all over this portfolio swap.
The RM207.9 billion 2009 budget – RM154.17 billion of it for operational budget is now in the hands of one Najib Razak.
This is a man who thinks getting Sukhois are more important than making sure our science programmes in all schools are complete. When oil revenue runs out and we have not built a world class labour market – our children will always blame us.
Now he gets to decide, and since so many processes in the MOF is under the a cloud of secrecy and the ever helpful Official Secrets Act we all might be mightily screwed. I wonder how much a bump up Rela will get from the change.
And there is the Umno elections. The Umno run ministries are likelier to get timely support, as he would need to build his own cauldron of support for December.
I forget, Ministry of International Trade, under Muhyiddin Yassin – the likely challenger for party president, and still in cabinet.
Minister Muhyiddin might start seeing some inconsistencies for his ministry – unless he falls in line and accept the natural succession of Najib.
Anwar was finance minister
The cynic will point out, the quickening of Anwar’s rise occurred in his years running this ministry. Things like the purchase of the New Strait Times by Umno friendlies was carried out with the assistance of the young minister then.
And no one needs to remind Najib of this. And this man has no restraint when it comes to making gains.
Muhyiddin & Ku Li to worry
The pitfalls of Umno politics are going to become increasingly real for the Johor-Kelantan tandem over the next 3 months if Pakatan does not take over the country.
Najib’s ascension to almost power, will force them to play their cards before he consolidates his new position. The weakness now for Najib is, he might be effectively leader, but not in name. The idea would be to push the buck to Najib, until he relents to act unilaterally – and in doing so make Badawi realise that he has in actual fact abdicated power.