Pak Lah to quit in June 2010

Posted by Penarik Beca Monday, July 21, 2008

Exclusive to The Malaysian Insider

Malaysian Insider (10/7/08): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will step down as Umno president and Prime Minister in June 2010.

He is likely to announce the transfer of power date to Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak at a gathering for Umno officials today, a move aimed at reducing the level of political uncertainty in the country and the expected jostling for senior positions ahead of party elections in December.

His decision to set a specific date of departure will have repercussions on the party elections, with him and Najib likely to be returned unopposed as the No 1 and No. 2 in the party. This will almost certainly end Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s valiant attempt to win the 58 nominations required to contest the party president’s position.

Also facing uncertain prospects in the polls will be Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who has been trying to force Abdullah to step down before December.

There has been a push for Abdullah to set a specific date for the transfer of power since the Barisan Nasional suffered major reversals in Election 2008.

But the PM held off, concerned that he could become a lame duck leader if his retirement date was made public too early. He repeatedly said that he would hand over power to Najib but did not offer a date.

This reluctance resulted in Najib’s supporters getting restless and talk surfaced of an alliance between Najib and Muhyiddin to contest the party polls. The speculation of an alliance dipped considerably after the events of the last week when Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim accused Najib of being involved with Altantuya Shariibuu, the Mongolian model who was murdered in October 2006.

Confidence in the Najib camp was replaced with doubt, given the swirling allegations and the successful move by the Opposition to dent his image in the court of public opinion. They also sent out feelers wondering if Abdullah would consider giving a specific date of the succession plan.

Party officials said that Abdullah agreed because he believed that setting a date would bring some semblance of certainty to Malaysia and reduce the level of politicking which has upset many Malaysians and foreign investors.

Party officials added Abdullah picked 2010 because it marks the end of the Ninth Malaysia Plan and he wants to implement all the projects and programmes under it before handing over power to Najib.

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