Saturday, December 10, 2011

Remember Rosmah Mansor?

Written by Wong Choon Mei, Nawawi Mohamad, Malaysia Chronicle

Remember Rosmah Mansor? Of course, who can forget the First Lady of Malaysia - FLOM!

Yes, she has keeping a studiously low-profile of late. That is until, her favorite carpet man Deepak Jaikishan - he of the P.I. Balasubramaniam statutory declaration and Altantuya-Scorpenes fame - burst on to the scene in the most cynical of places - in corporate Malaysia, where Rosmah, a former banker, still keeps a close tab.

To Deepak, she is like an "older sister", and to another corporate toy-boy Jho Low, she is not his "mak-angkat" but a "good friend". But what about her - what are these guys to her?

So far, not a word has escaped her lips, erstwhile known for endless karaoke sessions and sometimes even scolding people, when she doesn't get what she wants exactly the way she wants it.

The 'main switch'

But although Rosmah can control many things as she 'owns' the main switch - her husband - she cannot control everything.

For example, the recent UMNO general assembly had made her very nervous.

Obviously, the sinking economy, financial and political scenarios were of concern, underscoring her husband's under-performance and bolstering criticism that they have been taking one too many overseas trip plus personal holidays, rather than work and try to reform Malaysia.

Indeed, Najib has not been working much if at all, despite a fast-developing financial crisis at home. So taken up with his personal entertainment and pursuits, the PM even fell asleep at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Scandals - His and Hers

But above all, Rosmah was apprehensive that all her scandals - USD24 million diamond ring, Birkin bags, controversial Kazakh in-laws, Italian and Perth holidays - would take centre stage at the UMNO assembly.

So much did she fret that her minders say she actually dropped a kilo or two in fats ahead of the UMNO meet. But as it turned out, she needn't have worried. For the first time, since Najib took over the presidency, Rosmah was not the top female star at the UMNO gathering. That dubious honour went to Women's chief Shahrizat Jalil and what an uproar she and her family stirred up with the cows and condos NFC scandal.

Obviously the Shahrizats' RM250mil NFC debacle paled in comparison with the Najibs' RM570million Scorpene submarines kickback, but who's counting when apathetic Malaysian taxpayers and voters do not seem to mind!

Even the One Menerung condos bought by NFC and costing about RM7 million each was a fraction of the gargantuan Jacob & Co diamond ring that Rosmah was accused of importing, which till now some opposition leaders are chasing the Immigration Department for more details on - especially with regards to its exit from Malaysia.

Cannot let guard down yet

So while Shahrizat has given her a breather of sorts, Rosmah knows she can't really let her guard down - not just yet. Regardless of whether she can control her megalomania and penchant to shop till she dropped, as a responsible wife, she knows her many scandals could rock Najib's boat, which to be fair, is already pretty shaky on its own without any mischief from her.

The shrewd 60-year-old FLOM - who also acts as Najib's business manager - follows all the news closely. She was extra careful to monitor all the going-ons at the UMNO assembly, where her husband managed to convince delegates to allow him the final say in choosing canididates for the coming general election or GE-13.

According to UMNO people, she appeared to have been quite satisfied with the final outcome. All the attention - especially the gossip - had swirled around Shahrizat. Selected delegates had also been specifically ordered to bash down the Pakatan Rakyat leaders. Finally, the icing on the cake - as had been predicted, former premier and powerful party broker Mahathir Mohamad gave Najib the thumbs up.

Like a cat with a bowl of cream, Rosmah grinned and purred for the rest of the day, while rival factions including deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin's scowled and gnawed at their curry puffs. But could Dr M have done otherwise, unless of course, he wanted UMNO to sink like a stone.


So while, the controversial First Lady of Malaysia seems satisfied, she is not really that happy or fully contented yet. That's right - she wants MORE, maybe even everything. And before readers slag her off, remember this sort of trait is after all in keeping with the true-blue 'sapu-bersih' or clean-all style of the UMNO elite.

Happiness to Rosmah may be to be satisfied, happy, smiling, and powerful, appearing on television and presiding over some glamorous event or other, where her speech is also televised and broadcast with subtitles in Chinese, English and Tamil.

With the UMNO assembly over and done with, it's also back to business-as-usual for the plump but energy-packed FLOM. Deepak has already made the headlines, taking over a substantial stake in loss-making air and water filter firm Envair. It is well known that Rosmah hates losers and avoids them like the plague, so it is not surprising that Envair will soon be 'transformed' into an oil-and-gas entity, something like Scomi and Kencana owned by the sons of Abdullah Badawi and Mahathir Mohamad respectively.

So much for keeping a low profile! For Rosmah, with her bubbling and some even say volcanic temperament, a quiet and modest demeanor is beyond her ability - at least not for prolonged periods. And Malaysia would be the poorer without her antics, although many citizens would argue the country is already poorer because of her antics!

Was Shahrizat the scapegoat for the First Couple

Lastly, the question buzzing on everyone's mind - was the Shahrizat debacle engineered to take the heat off the first couple? Hard to say but as the emergence of Deepak almost immediately after the UMNO AGM suggests, not to mention the most recent blatant use of public money for their Kazakh and Perth trips, the first couple may have become immune to criticism.

Both husband and wife have been accused of so many misdeeds, called so many names including the Bonnie and Clyde of Malaysia, that to their thinking, they might as well continue with whatever 'heist' they may be planning while going was still good. Remember, time is not only running for Malaysia, time is also running out for them.

Rosmah may have escaped a grilling at the UMNO AGM, for which she may feel momentarily grateful. But make no mistake, neither she nor Najib are really so foolish as not to know that the one concrete signal from the assembly is that Najib has to go. He cannot deliver the leadership that the party is critically in need of, and all the delegates know it.

And she cannot help - much as she wants and ambitious as she is.

Malaysia Chronicle

No comments: