Regular readers of this blog would have noticed by now that I very, very seldom post about socio-political issues. But the announcement by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday that he would not be defending his President's post in UMNO prompted me to share my views about the selection of the no.1 leader of our country.
Earlier in the week, I had commented in Nuraina A. Samad's blog under the post `UMNO's Amazing Race', that I hoped to see AAB actually defend his post and that he gets the requisite nominations to do so. Now that this is no longer happening, we are informed that Najib Tun Razak would be handed the PM's post come March next year. But this would be possible only if Najib wins the UMNO presidency...
And that brings us to the question that is the title of my post for today. Who actually decides who gets to become the Prime Minister of our country? Unlike the citizens of USA who can choose who they want as their President (Obama or McCain), the choice of PM of Malaysia is not that direct.
As it stands now, a politician in Malaysia can get to become the Prime Minister if he is (a) a Member of Parliament, and (b) if he is the leader of the dominant party in the ruling coalition i.e. UMNO. Well, the constitutional experts among you will say that this is not correct because the PM is appointed by the Yang Dipertuan Agong who shall select a member of the house who he thinks commands the confidence of the majority of the members. Yeah, right... but as long as UMNO MPs are the majority in Parliament, tradition dictates that the PM post will always belong to the President of UMNO. I very much doubt that Tuanku Mizan would rule otherwise, despite whatever aspiration Anwar Ibrahim might have in wooing some ruling MPs to cross-over.
The reality is that the choice of our PM will be decided by a handful of delegates in the next UMNO general assembly. Najib has already declared that he is offering himself as a candidate for the top post. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah had long ago announced that he will contest. As for Muhyiddin Yassin, we all wait to see if he's going for the no.1 spot or settle for no.2 (and with that, be seen as Najib's running mate).
To some of us, this is not the ideal situation... but like it or not, unless you are a member of UMNO, you have no say. If you do have friends or family who are members of UMNO, perhaps the best that you can do is to let them know who you think should be elected as president from amongst the aspiring candidates. But do that only if you feel strongly about it... because most UMNO members that I know from among my friends and relatives, have already made up their minds.