Husni’s “either everything or nothing” political strategy


Husni wanted the post of Finance Minister. For more than a year Husni messed up the 1MDB issue, hoping that due to the stress and pressure Najib would hand him the job of Finance Minister. But when Najib offered Husni the post of Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government instead, he knew that the game was up and decided to resign.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The opposition is trying very hard to exploit and capitalise on Finance Minister II Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah’s resignation from all his posts in the government and the party. But then this is what the opposition always does when someone from the government and/or Umno resigns — they try to use that person as an ‘icon’ to oppose Umno and the government.

Over the last one year, Husni was called a liar, stupid, and so on, for what those opposed to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak regarded as the less-than-acceptable statements the Finance Minister II made regarding 1MDB. Those from the ANC (Anti-Najib Campaign) and Pakatan Rakyat (now Pakatan Harapan) felt that the statements did not make sense and kept changing each time — first say this and then say the opposite.

For example, Husni drafted the replies to the Parliamentary questions but then they were released in Najib’s name. The answers, however, caused even more confusion and appeared to be an attempt to put a noose around Najib’s neck — because the impression given was that it was Najib who was being evasive and inconsistent in an attempt to mislead the public and cover up the truth.

Then Husni caused further confusion by appointing CIMB to undertake an evaluation exercise of 1MDB’s energy assets against the backdrop of an ongoing exercise to do an IPO. On top of that, he delayed the presentation of 1MDB’s rationalisation and debt reduction plan to the Cabinet, thus giving an impression that it was taking so much time to settle what should have been a simple and straightforward matter whereas the whole thing had already been completed in just two months.

Those were just some of the examples. Nevertheless, considering that Husni cannot be said to be stupid (if not he would not have become the Finance Minister II), why in heaven’s name did he give the impression he does not know what he is doing? Why does he say one thing one day and the opposite the next and why are his statements quite illogical?

Many of us believed that Husni is not really stupid. So, if he is saying and doing stupid things, then this can only be because he has been told to do so, probably by Najib himself. But then we found out later that not only did Najib not ask him to main bodoh, in fact, Najib himself was puzzled by all these statements and was not quite sure what game Husni was trying to play.

That was when reality hit all of us in the face. Husni was throwing spanners into the works and each time he said or did something it just created more confusion and made it look like the government is lying and that there are attempts to cover up the truth regarding 1MDB.

As to what Husni was trying to do was now very clear. As to whether he was serving someone’s agenda (say Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his ANC) or whether he had his own personal agenda was something that needed to be established.

And this was what Najib did — he put Husni to a test. Najib wanted to see whether Husni was innocent or guilty — and whether he accepted or rejected the post would confirm that.

Najib offered Husni a promotion, from Second Finance Minister (which did not really carry too much power and authority since the First Finance Minister was your boss) to full Minister. And that full Minister’s post would be in the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry.

This upset Husni to no end. He had been eyeing the (First) Finance Minister’s post for quite some time and much of what he had been doing over the last 18 months was aimed at getting that job. And that was why he main bodoh (play dumb) these last 18 months or so. He was hoping that by doing and saying silly things, Najib would get deeper and deeper into the rut and finally, because of too much stress and pressure, would hand the post of (First) Finance Minister to him.

In short, create as much chaos and turmoil as possible (by saying and doing silly things that backfire on Najib) and then, when the stress and pressure becomes too much, Najib will bail out and hand the problem over to Husni to solve (by promoting him to full Finance Minister).

That would achieve what Husni hoped to achieve — his eventual take over of the Finance Ministry, the second most powerful position in the government, even more powerful than the position of the Deputy Prime Minister.

What many did not know, but which Najib’s Boffin Boys had begun to suspect more than a year or so ago, is that Husni had a large ambition. And his ambition is to become the full Finance Minister because as Finance Minister II his power and authority was very limited.

Furthermore, the post of Finance Minister is second to the Prime Minister and above even the Deputy Prime Minister. So that gave him the power of life and death over the Prime Minister — figure of speech, of course, but then in this game of thrones you can never tell.

Husni saw this opportunity last year when the attacks on 1MDB began. He knew that if he very cleverly played the game of main bodoh then he could hurt Najib quite badly. And Husni felt that if the fire got too hot Najib would opt to get out of the kitchen and hand the Finance Ministry to the Second Finance Minister (in short he underestimated Najib).

At least that was what Husni planned to happen and hoped would happen.

But Najib’s Boffin Boys began to smell a rat and felt that this is more than just honest mistakes or shoddiness or stupidity or whatnot. These are actually moves by a clever person who is trying to hurt Najib by making the 1MDB issue appear like an exercise of trying to mislead the public and trying to cover up the truth.

So Najib put Husni to a test and invariably he revealed his true intentions when he rejected the promotion to Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government. Husni does not want that position. He wants to be the (full) Finance Minister. And when Najib would not make him the (full) Finance Minister, Husni decided to resign from all his positions in the government and the party.

So Husni has more or less proven the suspicion that Najib and his Boffin Boys had. He just wants to become the (full) Finance Minister. And if he cannot have that post then he wants nothing. He would rather leave than take the post of Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government because that would mean the (full) Finance Minister’s post would now be out of his reach.

Of course, the opposition will give another reason for Husni leaving and will talk about saving Malaysia, man of principles, can no longer stand the corruption and abuse of power, etc. Yes, and would Husni still have resigned from all his government and party posts if Najib had made him the Finance Minister instead of the Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government? I give you one guess and no prize for the correct guess.