Abdullah Badawi: The Rise and Fall of Mr. Nice Guy

Islam Hadari is dead and buried and will be forgotten even before the PM leaves his office to his successor. It has contributed largely to the demise of the Abdullah Badawi regime since it did not garner the following that the PM expected despite huge efforts made in that direction.

Written by kazi, WORLD FUTURES

Malaysia's Umno is a democratic institution, no doubt about that. It is the party that officially and truly brought the country to its independence. Its future does not lie with Abdullah Badawi's fate but the early resignation of the PM will influence the future path of the party.

They call him the sleeping head, the soft or the right man at the wrong place. These metaphors do not however introduce the real Mr Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Prime Minister of Malaysia or we should say the outgoing Prime Minister.

To trace the rise of Abdullah Badawi in Malaysian politics we must go back to the days of the 'reformasi' which led to the dismissal of Anwar Ibrahim then strong man and protégé of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed. The vacuum created by the apparent demise of Anwar's political career in 1998 was filled by Abdullah's nomination as the new Timbalan Perdana Menteri (TPM) and this catapulted Abdullah Badawi as the Prime Minister in waiting.

Destiny was fulfilled when Abdullah Badawi became the country's 5th Prime Minister in 2003 but things were quite certain for the Umno veteran when Mahathir was in tears in June 2002, announcing that he was resigning. To many people at that time, it was a God given situation since Mahathir's popularity was really at its lowest ebb and the country was in need of a new leader.

Hopes were high among the Malaysians who believed that Abdullah Badawi would deliver on promises and become a better Prime Minister but after 2004, things turned sour for the outgoing premier. It is to be said that the release of Anwar Ibrahim from jail in 2004 was the peak of the iceberg of troubles that would nag Abdullah Badawi and taint his rule after he won the biggest and most popular mandate in Malaysian history.

Months after the release of Anwar Ibrahim on a technical matter by the Federal Courts, Mahathir Mohamed began his 'exorcising' of Abdullah Badawi, targeting his economic agenda and his political moves with violent criticism. From then on, the 'reform' agenda set by the Abdullah Badawi regime started to show signs of failures while resistance to the reforms proposed by the Prime Minister grew significantly within the United Malays National Organization (Umno) and the establishment altogether.