by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 20.5.1987:
CABINET RESHUFFLE: WINNER TAKE ALL AND LOSERS LOSE ALL AFTER UMNO PRESIDENTIAL AND SUPREME COUNCIL ELECTIONS
The first message from the cabinet reshuffle by Dr. Mahathir yesterday is that in the UMNO Presidential & Supreme Council Elections three weeks ago the winners take all and the losers lose all.
The second message is that the winners will see to it that the losers will stand no chance of ever becoming winners in any future party contest. There is no doubt the Cabinet reshuffle was made with an eye as to how the Mahathir team could defeat any future challenge by the Razaleigh-Musa forces, and in particular in the next UMNO Presidential Supreme Council elections in 1990.
Dr. Mahathir is determined to clean UMNO of all of Razaleigh-Musa forces and influence. Whether at national or state level so that he will not suffer another humiliating experience of nearly being toppled as UMNO President and removed as Prime Minister by 43 votes.
Dr. Mahathir wants to wipe out the 43 votes humiliation in the recent UMNO General Assembly by ensuring that he will be re-elected as UMNO President in the 1990 UMNO General Assembly with a resounding majority and victory.
The re-appointment of Datuk Mohamed Rahmat as Information Minister and the elevation of Mustapha Mohamed as Minister for Welfare Service, although both lost in their bid for Supreme Council seats and have very little support in Johore UMNO, illustrate the Mahathir thinking and strategy. Both Datuk Mohamed Rahmat and Mustapha Mohamed are not being rewarded for carring the Mahathir flag and going against the mainstream of Johore Mentri Besar, Haji Muhyiddin Mohd. Yassin with the task in the next three years to destroy the Musa bastion in Johore UMNO and turn Johore into a Mahathir state before the UMNO general Assembly.
The same thinking and strategy is behind the appointment of Senator Hj. Hussein Ahmad, once Kelantan’s Deputy Menteri Besar, as Deputy Housing Minister. Another of Dr. Mahathir’s objective in the next three years is to clean Kelantan of the Razaleigh influence.
Similarly consideration to weed out Razaleigh-Musa forces and influence in UMNO could also be seen in other appointments, such as the appointment of Mohd Farid Ariffin as Senator and Deputy Finance Minister “to bolster Anwar Ibrahim’s position and undermine Datuk Abdullah Badawi’s power base in Penang and the elevation of Puan Napsiah Omar as Public Enterprise Minister an Jempol MP. Hj Mohd Khalid Yunus, as Deputy Minister for Land and Regional Development.
Stagnation of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and the removal of his “cultural” portfolio to a new Ministry, when four Deputy Ministers have been promoted to more senior Ministerial posts is Dr. mahathir’s way of expressing displeasure at Datuk Seri Najib’s vacciliation till the last minute in the UMNO Presidental contest in supporting the Mahathir camp.
The Cabinet reshuffle will lead to the further intensification of internal UMNO conflict. In the Gopeng by election, the Razaleight-Musa
Forces made a last minute strategic decision to rally behind the Barisan Nasional candidate, in the hope of sending out a message for compromise between the two UMNO factions. The Cabinet reshuffle is Dr. M’s answer that as far as he is concerned, there is no room for compromise between him and the Razaleigh-Musa forces.