By Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz
COMMENT In the pre-2008 general election days, Umno leaders castigated and demeaned former economic adviser Daim Zainuddin, claiming he was senile and past his shelf life, and that he was way-off with his political predictions.
Then came the shocking loss. As prophesied by Daim, Barisan Nasional lost five states and barely managed to retain its two-thirds majority.
Now every Umno leader regards Daim as the Oracle of Delphi. More so, if they can persuade him to give encouraging, if not forced, optimism of Umno’s prospects in the 13th general election.
Sadly they are not going to get that.
Two Saturdays ago, I sat down with Daim’s alter ego, whom I call the Oracle of Syed Putra.
Although I directed my questions to the Oracle and he gave answers, readers must assume they are directed to and answered by Daim himself.
I asked the Oracle his assessment of the current political situation and of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
His response was somewhat startling, to say the least.
He said Najib “has simply lost the plot” on how to run and manage this country.
What about those polls and ratings about Najib being popular?
The Oracle said, “Surveyors and those surveyed can be paid to elicit the politically correct statements. No big deal.”
‘Dr M in Selangor means trouble’
I asked if he knew that (former prime minister) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) had gone to speak at a function in Shah Alam two weeks ago.
(Najib reportedly met 1,300 grassroots leaders of the Selangor BN in a closed-door gathering two weeks ago.)
He said he didn’t know but added that if indeed Mahathir had gone down to Selangor, then it was a “sign of bigger problems” in Selangor.
He said he heard that Mahathir told Umno people in Shah Alam vis-a-vis Selangor to accept any candidate selected by the top leadership even if the candidates have never been Umno members.
In which case Umno must be scrapping the barrel.
In an interview with The Star last November, on winnable candidates, Mahathir said he knew there “is resistance on the ground”, especially among many division warlords who think they are winnable.
According to him, very few will make way willingly for new candidates and that there will be sabotage.
“It can be done provided you lay the ground. You have to meet them, explain why it has to be a certain candidate. So far, I don’t see it (the groundwork),” he said.
Mahathir, more than anyone else, knows the ground.
The fact is no one in Umno is “winnable” enough and that is the profound indictment on the state of affairs and the quality of Umno leadership.
Loses in Sabah and Sarawak
I asked the Oracle if he could see the outcome of the next election. But he was somewhat subdued.
All he said, after a while, was that BN could lose 16 parliamentary seats in Sarawak and 12 in Sabah – eight of which will be from Umno.
“I was hoping the losses can be compensated by BN winning back Selangor and Kedah provided Umno is united…” But Umno is not united.
The writer is a former Umno state assemblyman, and now a DAP member. He is a FMT columnist.