Najib shows he’s made of sterner stuff
(NST) – The embattled trio sat quietly in the Merdeka Hall during Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s policy speech yesterday, as a standing ovation greeted the Umno president’s affirmation of grassroots support towards his leadership.
Umno No.2 Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad seemed to be lonely in the sea of red baju melayu and baju kurung; it was all the more awkward for Muhyiddin, who was in the front row adjacent to Najib.
The talk of Najib turning meek in his speech, in the presence of his detractors was unceremoniously dispelled.
Ironically, it was the three, whom were aggressive at disreputing Najib’s leadership, who were shifting in their seats, so to speak.
Najib has proven that he is made of sterner stuff, as the proverb goes, even if the gauntlets were thrown by those described as “forces to be reckoned with” in a series of incessant challenges.
If Muhyiddin and Shafie had a sudden political epiphany, they would realise that Najib is not someone to be trifled with. Despite the slew of allegations hurled and branch chiefs publicly questioning his worth, Najib is not easily cowed by pressure.
That is simply a fact, for those who were present to witness the assembly’s opening here in Putra World Trade Centre.
Najib showed command when many had least expected it, as his “gentlemanly” disposition often veiled the possibility of stern rebuke.
Suffice to say, the captain had decided to stop his vessel from rocking, even as the waves were pounding at the sides.
The party president was roaring, his voice and delivery boomed across the floor. Perhaps he had been waiting for an opportune moment to face his detractors.
On the surface, it was a risky move but then again, Najib had always kept his plays close to his chest.
He had asked for Muhyiddin and Shafie to adhere to the party constitution, which explicitly detailed their roles in the party – the deputy president and vice-presidents are tasked with assisting the president in carrying out his duties.
For all one knows, deep in the minds of Muhyiddin and Shafie, regret for going against the president is taking its roots.
At the supreme council meeting Wednesday night, Muhyiddin had admitted to newsmen that he had pleaded to speak at the assembly.
Nevertheless, the council turned away his request and Muhyiddin walked away forlornly and accompanied by party vice-president Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein.
The latter’s sympathetic gesture was described by observers as a mark of respect to party leaders, regardless of the antagonism displayed.
As the assembly adjourned prior to the debates, Najib walked across the stage as many party supreme council members shook his hands to congratulate him over the delivery of the speech. Muhyiddin and Shafie looked rather lost on the stage.
They did not seem to know whether to walk away, or remain seated and turn their backs against the party president. But Najib extended his hands to the two, who awkwardly returned the gesture.
The men were all smiles; nobody really knows what went on their minds at that time.
Muhyiddin left the hall without speaking to reporters despite fervent calls for his comments.
Shafie and Dr Mahathir did respond to one or two questions, but (maybe) they had momentarily lost their verve. Indeed, Najib managed to use the platform to put the dissidents in their place. Maybe in a day or two, Dr Mahathir might come up with another issue to ruffle feathers once more.
But that will likely be a difficult task even for the elder politician. His continuous efforts to cut Najib at the knees, was swiftly negated by the overwhelming endorsement for the prime minister yesterday.