When will Muhyiddin strike? Or will he?


The nation needs a leader who not only wants the job, but who also deserves it and can perform, not someone who just happened to get it

Scott Ng, FMT

The bell tolls for Najib Razak, and Malaysians can feel it. There has been a sort of steady momentum building up to this moment. The Wall Street Journal seems to have produced the smoking gun that our opposition tried in vain for years to find – that one thing that could finally knock Najib off his perch.

It has not been an easy road for those who have attempted by various means to bring the Prime Minister down. A few have been jailed, others beaten, many have been left disheartened as Najib slowly lumbered on his way, flicking off the attacks like so many flies at his dinner table. The tide changed when former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad picked up the burden of the fractured opposition, and the wheels began to turn inexorably towards Najib’s downfall.

Still, it is not a foregone conclusion that Najib will be made to leave office over the allegations made by the Wall Street Journal. Our Prime Minister is nothing if not recalcitrant, and he will not go down without a fight. However, in this time of Najib’s greatest trial lies an opportunity for the one who may supplant Najib to assume control of the Barisan Nasional administration in Putrajaya before it collapses under the weight of his failures.

Muhyiddin Yassin must know that the time to strike is near, if it has not already come. His apparent reluctance to be involved in the process of removing Najib has been theorised as a ploy to make it seem like his hands are clean when he finally takes over. But surely he knows he must strike while the iron is hot.

But observers, analysts and pundits seem divided over whether Muhyiddin has the required qualifications. Those in favour of him are, perhaps, of the traditional Umno mindset. They see no good reason to break away from what Mahathir has termed “succession according to hierarachy”. Some among this group also see a plus in the modest way he carries himself, in contrast to Najib’s flamboyance.

However, those who have their doubts about Muhyiddin’s qualifications argue that the rakyat are looking for a strong, resolute, capable leader of integrity and a strong moral character to step in. Indeed, our new CEO will need to have those traits if he is to tackle the buffet of problems that Najib will leave him, and Muhyiddin has yet to convince the rakyat he is the man for the job. All we’ve heard from him so far are a few tentative statements that could serve as a prelude to a confrontation – nothing particularly awe inspiring, just worth a raised eyebrow or two.

One pundit has said Muhyiddin is perfectly happy making it seem as if the job of Prime Minister fell into his lap by accident. However, that is not the kind of Prime Minister we need right now. We don’t want someone who just happens to get the job, but someone who wants the job, deserves the job, and can do the work. If Muhyiddin thinks that being wishy-washy is going to convince anyone, he has another thing coming.

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