Halting more crossovers

No easy task for Najib as he takes over the helm of Perak Umno

The Malay Mail

Perak has been “parachuted” in as the latest item on Datuk Seri Najib Razak's bulging “to do” list since it was decided that he would take over as the State Umno chief from Datuk Seri Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali from Monday.

Najib: Understands what is needed

Najib is expected to carry out some restructuring in the ranks of the Perak Umno, which is grappling with an internal crisis that has seen one veteran leader crossing over to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and a few others threatening to follow suit over allegations of favouritism in allowing only certain personalities in the State to contest for division head posts.

The situation is threatening to boil over, and Tajol Rosli has become the casualty, for he has been seen as being passive to the grouses of Perak Umno leaders.

Najib’s immediate priority is to stop more State leaders from jumping ship.

His task is not going to be easy, but if history is anything to go by, then Najib should do fine in pacifiying any revolting pack.

Perak, which used to have the biggest number of Umno divisions until Sabah took over, has had a string of leadership crisis since the early 70s and on each occasion, the Perak Umno leadership was taken over by the party deputy president.

In the early 70s, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad took charge when the then Menteri besar and party liaison chief Tan Sri Ghazali Jawi faced a leadership crisis.

When the party went through another turmoil, Tun Musa Hitam took over from Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib. Now, it is Najib's turn to keep the record going.

Observers, however, felt that the Perak Umno crisis this time is “another animal altogether”.

They pointed out that in the two earlier crises, the party did not have to deal with members jumping ship as Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) were in full control of the State. This situation has changed with the BN's defeat in Perak in last year's general election.

Umno supreme council member Datuk Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis said losing the grip on Perak had weakened the State Umno leadership.

“We are dealing with people who have lost confidence in the party, not just in the State leadership,” he told Malay Mail.

Rather than give up the fight, Jamaluddin said, Perak Umno should emulate Terengganu Umno, which had worked hard to regain the State after losing it to Pas in 1999.

“Terengganu is a fine example of the undying Umno struggle. Led by Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, the State fought hard, keeping the Umno fighting spirit burning while under Pas rule.

“In the end, the effort bore fruit. Umno and BN won back the State in 2004. Perak should emulate this spirit. They should not see the situation as gloom and doom.”

Jamaluddin said Umno leaders should no longer stick to their “old ways”.

“Leaders have succeeded in changing the people. They themselves should change to suit changing situations … failure to do this will result in disappointment, resentment and worse of all, a crisis of confidence.”

Jamaluddin is confident that Najib would bring about “good changes” to Perak Umno.

Describing the deputy prime minister as “the first leader and the product of a new generation”, Jamaluddin said Najib had the capacity to do well as “he understands what is needed and what the younger generation wants”.