ONE of Malaysia's most well-known and often controversial media bosses has fired a broadside at Umno and Malaysian politics.
Datuk Seri Kalimullah Hassan, deputy chairman of the New Straits Times Press, had recently tendered his resignation.
He is known to be close to Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi.
In an editorial published in the New Straits Times yesterday, he said that in Malaysian politics, being a nice guy means ending up last.
Mr Kalimullah took swipes at Umno heavyweights, including International Trade and Industry Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
He said Mr Abdullah learnt a hard lesson in loyalty.
'In Umno, loyalty to the leader has one important caveat and that caveat is 'as long as you are powerful'.
'For as long as he (Mr Abdullah) was powerful, the Umno ranks, especially those in the supreme council, would bend over backwards to be seen as loyal.
'But the moment the chips were down, they would abandon the sinking ship and run to where they saw the power shifting.' Mr Kalimullah said.
He accused Mr Muhyiddin of doing this to Mr Abdullah, who he said trusted him.
Said Mr Kalimullah: 'Muhyiddin was among the first to call for his resignation. When Muhyiddin saw that the supreme council seemed to be backing Abdullah for the so-called transition programme, which would see him in office until June 2010, Muhyiddin backed off in deference to the party and his 'loyalty' to the party.'
He said when Umno lost the Permatang Pauh by-election in August, Mr Muhyiddin again saw an opportunity and 'expressed no confidence in his Prime Minister', the man who had appointed him to his post.
'To the ordinary man with ordinary assumptions of what loyalty means, what happened to Abdullah would be seen as treachery. But in his world, it's called realpolitik,' he said.
Mr Kalimullah said the Prime Minister's position became untenable after he made some wrong decisions and after he could not fulfil the promises he made to Malaysians.
'He took responsibility for it. Yet, all those who had backed him previously conveniently slunk away, allowing all the blame to be heaped on one man - Abdullah,' he wrote.
He also poured scorn on Dr Mahathir.
He said the former PM had not been 'charitable' to many people except for his family and close friends.
'When he was not attacking the United States, Margaret Thatcher, the West, the Zionists and the Jews, George Soros, Singapore and currency speculators, it was his own Umno members, the Malays 'who forget easily' (Melayu mudah lupa), non-governmental organisations and the judiciary.'
He said Dr Mahathir made numerous unsubstantiated and slanderous allegations against Mr Abdullah and his family.
'Even Abdullah's late wife, Datin Seri Endon Mahmood, was not spared Dr Mahathir's sharp tongue,' he said.
Mr Kalimullah is the first of a series of executives in Umno- and government-linked companies who are likely to be leaving in the next few months because of changes in Umno's leadership, reported Malaysian Insider.
He joined the group in 2003 as its group editor-in-chief before relinquishing that post in 2006 to become deputy chairman.
Dr Mahathir made Mr Kalimullah a constant target of his attacks, claiming the newspaper had been used to silence him and other critics of Mr Abdullah.
According to the Malaysian Insider, other Umno leaders had also been upset with Mr Kalimullah for allowing the newspaper to break certain stories like the Royal Commission of Inquiry's findings on the V K Lingam video.