No whispers, no winnable candidates

The prime minister’s biggest headache is seaching for candidates who can deliver.

Najib Razak

Rashid Ahmad, Free Malaysia Today

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil will leave it to the prime minister to decide her political fate in the wake of the National Feedlot Corporation scandal.

Despite calls from Umno for her to read the “writings on the wall”, she is not willing to let go of her senatorship and Cabinet post.

Obviously, she has not whispered to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak that she is willing to step down before the next general election is called.

Najib is probably waiting to hear not only from Shahrizat but also from many others who are considered not “winnable” candidates.

With Najib practically “combing” the country – making amends for Barisan Nasional weaknesses and apologies for BN mistakes – incumbent BN MPs and assemblymen, particularly from Umno, are finding it difficult to read their big boss’ mind.

Some of them, who followed Najib during the “on the field attacks”, wonder whether they would be picked again or replaced by young faces because they still consider themselves winnable.

Many are division heads or deputies or committee members of party divisions, who are popular among voters and who are also “working hard” to get re-appointed.

Nice life

They follow Najib all over the country because they want to “show their face”. They are hoping that Najib would spot them and be noticed when they shake his hand.

How many have “whispered” to Najib that they would bow out before the next general election? Nobody knows but words have it that not more than five have conveyed their intention.

The majority – MPs and assemblymen who have served for more than two terms – have yet to make their stand known.

One political observer says it will make things easier if all these office-seekers willingly step up to Najib and declare they are making an exit.

“Give the boss an easy job by whispering to him that you want to bow out… the boss has given you a nice life for so long,” he said.

Najib has plans to field only winnable candidates but many incumbents think they are good bets, otherwise they would not have survived the 2008 hurricane that brought down four states and nearly saw Putrajaya fall.

Najib saw the mistakes BN had committed and has been working hard to rectify them. The mistakes are the promises made but not fulfilled and fielding candidates who did not live up to public expectations.

Biggest headache

Najib is trying his best to correct the unfavourable public perception of the ruling party and so far, he has done well by engaging directly with young voters through his social media network. He has also gone down to the ground in his walkabouts to be with the people.

Najib has resolved many major issues and has left the the grassroots party leaders to deal with the other remaining problems. But still there are hurdles in his path.

His biggest headache is getting rid of non-winnable incumbents who will not want to bow out on their own unless told to do so.

These candidates are chosen by the respective state liaison chiefs who are obviously “buddy-buddy” with them.

This is the burden Najib is carrying right now and there is no easy way out as it involves party leaders and members who have been supporting him loyally all this while.