Pak Lah: You Wait Lah

It’s time to dissect Pak Lah’s latest press briefing.  Of course, it is about whether he will defend his Umno presidency.  So let’s read his lips again.

Source: The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will announce whether he will defend his Umno presidency by tomorrow.

Actually, Pak Lah never said he will do such a thing by tomorrow (Wednesday).  In fact, this is just a supposition.  He said he will do so in another day or two or three.  What does this mean?  Merely that he will announce it when he feels ready to do so.  Read on.

The Prime Minister is expected to inform the Cabinet and leaders at the Barisan Nasional supreme council meeting, which will be held tomorrow, of his decision.

Firstly, Pak Lah will be “briefing” the BN supreme council on the transition.  What he actually meant was that he will listen to the BN component party leaders regarding what they think about the transition.  More listening by Pak Lah.  He will not make any announcement until after this event.  Pak Lah can’t inform the BN supreme council members his decision because there is none just yet.

“I will decide by tomorrow (Tuesday) or Wednesday. You wait lah. Why so impatient?” he told a press conference after the third meeting of the Biotech International Advisory Panel here yesterday,

Note that he will decide by Tuesday or Wednesday.  Not necessary announce.  But he can’t announce until he has decided.  This merely means he is buying some time and probably wants to consider what the BN component party leaders have to say about the transition.  These leaders will not learn anything new at this time.  They will talk and Pak Lah will listen.  Then he will decide.  Chances are he already has a position but he is open to reconsider if the BN component party leaders have anything that warrants it.

Although he did not indicate what his decision would be, Abdullah, who is also Barisan chairman, is expected to announce that he would not be defending his post during the party polls in March next year.

This is in line with the bringing forward of Umno’s transition of power plan.

Now this is jumping the gun.  Pak Lah wanted everybody to keep guessingThe Star seems to be obliged to make a prediction that Pak Lah will not be defending his post.  Pak Lah has clearly stated that the party polls will be postponed to March 2009 and nothing else.  He never said he will step down.  The clarity of the transition plan became muddled after the Umno Supreme Council members attempted to “advice” Pak Lah to quit much, much earlier, like now.  The March 2009 date is probably a red herring to defuse the tense situation.  Pak Lah bought time with this understanding.

Yesterday at the press conference, Abdullah declined to say what his decision would be.

Pak Lah is consistent and remains adamant that he will announce when he is all good and ready.  Nobody will force his hand.  After all, he is the Umno President and the PM of Malaysia.  Who are they to tell him to quit?  Only the people who elected him.

When asked if he had actually made a decision, he said:

“If I tell you, then I would be announcing it now. I don’t intend to announce it now. You will have to wait. After all, two, three, four days is not too long, right?”

No, no.  Pak Lah wants all to realize that he is the President of Umno.  Nothing the Supreme Council members nor the press speculating will deter him from taking this position.  He was all smiles when he said this.  Makes one wonder if he has more up his sleeves.

Abdullah was earlier asked whether he was planning to give up his post or defend it and contest against Najib since several Umno leaders had offered to contest for the deputy president’s post.

His reply was: “It is too early (to say).”

What is too early to say?  That he was planning not to defend his President post or that these Umno leaders are premature in offering themselves for the Deputy President’s post.  Probably the latter.  Remember, the cue is with Pak Lah, the Umno President, the PM of Malaysia.  Watch his move first.  Anyone who moves now is too early.  Why?  There must be a surprise in store.

On the individuals who have announced their intention to contest the number two position, he said it was entirely up to them whether they wanted to announce it early or wait to do so after his announcement.

“Believe me, after a while some of them will drop out and in the end there may be only two, may be even only just one left,” he said.

Now Pak Lah is making a prediction that the list of candidates offering themselves for the Deputy President post may leave only one effective nomination.  Is this Najib?  Or is it someone else who has yet to announce his availability?  Watch Pak Lah’s move and we shall soon see the rest of the candidates coming out of the woodwork.

Updated: Interesting to watch is by the time Pak Lah makes the announcement of his decision whether to defend his Umno president post, observe who is around him.  That will give a very good indication of his support composition.  Will Najib be there too?  Looks more and more unlikely these days.

On his focus as Prime Minister now, Abdullah said he still had work to do to fulfil the reforms he had promised in the Barisan Nasional 2004 election manifesto.

“What I promise, I must deliver,” he said.

Admirable but late.  Four years earlier, Pak Lah made that promise.  Four years today, he is still talking about those reforms.  One wonders what those reforms really are these days as we don’t quite remember what were promised four years ago.

Spoken as a true statesman “what I promise, I must deliver“.   Now, how can Pak Lah fulfill his last wish as a PM if he is no longer the PM?  And how can he be the PM unless he is the President of Umno?  How can he be the President of Umno unless he stands for election and wins it?  So, don’t write Pak Lah off just yet.

A lame duck PM will not get to fulfill anything.  Pak Lah needs all the power now and he can take the path to return to the Umno electorate so that he retains his Umno presidency and the PM position to have a final shot at “reforms“, whatever they now mean.  Unfortunately, such has nothing to do with the economy.

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