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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hisham's move on Musa bolsters talk of early polls

Wong Choon Mei  

KUALA LUMPUR, Mac 16: Amid speculation of hidden motives including the possibility of snap elections, Pakatan Rakyat leaders have asked Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to explain his sudden announcement that Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan will not be retained when his contract ends this September.

“I think everyone knows Pakatan has been urging the government not to extend Musa’s contract but last year they still did so despite strong objections from the public,” DAP central committee member Gobind Singh Deo told Harakahdaily.

“Not that we want Musa to stay on, but to be fair, this is a very influential post with far-reaching impact on all Malaysians. So it is necessary for the Home Minister to give the public an explanation.”

The latest confirmation from the Home Ministry comes hot on the heels of a news report that Musa had quit. It has bolstered talk that Prime Minister Najib Razak may soon call for early general elections. At the very least, he is expected to call for snap polls in Sarawak by July.

“I already know who is going to replace the IGP. I already know who is going to replace the director of the commercial crime division. I already know those who will take over, so there is no need for us to speculate and report news without basis,” Hisham told reporters on Monday.

The 59-year old Musa is a career policeman, who has been with the force for 38 years. He was promoted to the top job in 2006, with many believing that he was rewarded because of his role as the investigating officer in the 1998 trumped-up sodomy trial of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar has sued him and Attorney-General Gani Patail for fabricating evidence.

The controversial Musa has also been linked to underworld crime bosses. He has been investigated for alleged corruption related to the release of three members of illegal betting syndicates.

“Hishammuddin must look at the big picture. Even though the Umno-BN government knows Musa Hassan is not popular and carries a lot of baggage, it has been relying on him because he is loyal to them,” PAS vice president Salahuddin Ayub told Harakahdaily.

“Out of the blue, they say they want a new era for the police force. Are they now saying that the Musa era was rotten? Why the sudden change of heart? Or are they making him a scapegoat to show that Umno-BN is carrying out reforms?

Indeed, Najib has recently backpedaled on several major policies to avoid incurring voters’ displeasure. Over the weekend, he postponed the second parliamentary reading of the unpopular Goods and Services Tax Bill.

In the past month, Najib has also deferred electricity price hikes and canceled plans to raise subsidized petrol prices as part of a program to cut the budget deficit, which is expected to hit at a 20-year high of 7.4 percent of gross domestic product.

Last week, he shied away from rolling out a New Economic Model for fear that it might antagonize the Malay community, which forms 60 per cent of the country’s 27 million population. The NEM will now be presented for public scrutiny on March 30, while the detailing was moved to June.

“It is not that we want to read too much into this move to replace Musa, who is overdue to be replaced anyway," Salahuddin said. "But a lot of events have happened quickly and suddenly of late. So it is good that Najib and Hisham make it very clear where they are coming from and what their reasons are.”


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