Monday, September 15, 2008

Badawi's Waterloo

The future is now. Badawi seems to have played a very decisive card by having Tan Hoon Cheng, Raja Petra and Teresa Kok arrested under ISA. Unfortunately, for him the move has only served to further expose the serious decay that has set in on this regime. The asinine explanation given by Syed Hamid Albar for Tan’s arrest is simply symptomatic of this decay. The rot that had set in long ago has simply become too visible, undeniable, and irreparable.

From all indications, Malaysians see right through this latest act of a desperate PM and his closest confidants. Clearly, the rakyat is not buying their chendol anymore, let alone drinking it! And if the now gashing split within Umno is any indication, Badawi and his cadre obviously have been fighting for their political survival at multiple fronts. Not only has he had to endure the bubbling internal strife with Umno (consider also the handling of the Ahmad Ismail episode as indicative of this problem), but the looming potential of the collapse of BN and takeover by Pakatan Rakyat has of course been the other frontline where his Generals have had to exert much energy and resources. (Yes, the ‘field-trip’ to Taiwan is indeed an example of the ‘creativity’ his Generals have exhibited on this frontline of the political war.)

Obviously, not only does Badawi seem to be losing the public relations war on both these fronts, he also seems to be desperately stuck in the mud – too stubborn (and arrogant) to see just how the political terrain around him has changed - and continues to change. Consider how his other General, Najib, led his troops in Permatang Pauh. One might say their display in that by-election epitomised the arrogance and stubbornness of the BN and especially its leadership.

Of course this all means the Badawi-led block within Umno is in a serious bind: as they take a blow on one front – for example, from PR – it simply emboldens his detractors within Umno. Similarly, when the in-fighting within Umno spills over and becomes public, it further propels and gives fuel to PR’s campaign to topple the decayed BN.

What a dilemma indeed for Badawi. You don’t suppose he recognises that this is his Waterloo?

G. Krishnan