Updated – According to Bernama, Shahrir said he would step down from the post at the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the day the power transition between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would take place.
Earlier posting – Defeated Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Sharir Samad has offered to quit his cabinet post after Abdullah announced his transition date.
“For me, not being elected into the Umno supreme council indicates that I did not perform well in the Cabinet,” Shahrir told Utusan Malaysia last night after the results were announced.
However another defeated minister – embattled Azalina Othman has not come out with any comment. Not yet. Perhaps she’s hoping Najib will retain her in the next cabinet reshuffle that both pro and amateurs political observers in country keenly watch.
Many hope, Najib will not just paying lips service on his message of ‘change that Malaysians can believe in‘. But that would be a gargantuan task for the new prime minister, not only because of this:
Several other supreme council members have made a name for themselves for all the wrong reasons. Tajudin Rahman, Puad and Bung Moktar are the posters boys of boorish behaviour in Parliament. They are heroes in the ruling party, earning kudos for standing up to the resurgent Opposition in Parliament. But they epitomise many of the qualities non-Malays find unattractive about Umno.
And this is the core of the problem facing Najib today. His party has a different value system than the rest of the country. Nearly every candidate at this year’s party elections used money or some other form of inducement to buy votes.
But also, those skeptics that said “Um.. no change“.
Mr Najib talks of “massive changes”. But Malaysians have heard it all before, most recently in March 2008, after UMNO’s dreadful showing in a parliamentary election. The spasm of introspection soon turned into a blame game and Mr Badawi was forced to say he would resign. The ensuing scramble for positions in UMNO has done little to change a widespread view that the party has been in power too long. The only person willing to stand against Mr Najib, the consummate insider, was Razaleigh Hamzah, a veteran outsider. Such a contest might have produced a debate about the party’s direction. Instead, Mr Razaleigh’s candidacy was quashed by party chiefs.
The underlying problem—for UMNO and Malaysia—is, to use the favoured euphemism, “money politics”, meaning backhanders paid for public-sector contracts or, where UMNO is concerned, seats at the high table