September 18, 2008
The drama that unfolded today in Malaysia is this: (everyday there is a new episode)
- Prime Minister Abdullah has exchanged his portfolios with that of his Deputy Najib Razak.
- Abdullah now holds the Defence Ministry, whilst Najib the Finance post.
- Nazri becomes the de facto Law Minister, in replacement of Zaid Ibrahim who resigned a day ago.
- The Finance Ministry is a step up for Najib, although in actual fact the Minister of Finance II Nor Mohamed Yakcop has been the main player, running the show on the National Budget and other economic decisions.
- The Defence Ministry is a strategic one for Pak Lah right now, especially in light of his straightforward comment that Anwar is a threat to national security.
- Najib as Finance Minister will have to contend with the slowing down of the Malaysian economy. The stock market dropped to just a little above 1000 points, the lowest day for the Malaysian stock market this year. This is due to internal political instability as well as the global economic turmoil (this a day after the announcement of Lehmann brothers and the buy-up of Merrill Lynch by the Bank of America).
- If Najib performs well, this will allow the transition to take place at a smoother, quicker pace, apparently. Perhaps the hand over of power at a sooner date before 2010 – the stipulated year – although when exactly we are not sure.
- Other piece of drama is on the arrests’ front – Sheih Kickdefella was taken in this evening, in Kelantan. I have interacted with him on several occasions, and although on a rather superficial basis, find him to be an individual driven by principles.
What will happen tomorrow? Another episode in the Malaysian drama.