UMNO has a long history to get rid of its overstaying `menteri besar’ or Chief Minister for the state governments. These Chief Ministers have become war lords on account of the resources that they wield and the patronage that they can dole out to those below them. This make removing them to carry risk of disruption. So the thought of removing them are often kept to the last minute-often when it is too late and cause losing of state government to the Opposition eg in the case of Terengganu’s over-staying CM Wan Mokhtar Ahmad, who lost a `fixed deposit’ state to PAS in 1999. Not that UMNO does not know the political risk of doing nothing when a certain leader become a toxic liability. And they had many occasions where the long knives were drawn on these war lords!
Some case studies will show the resolve and result of such actions by UMNO:
1. Kedah MB-Othman Aroff , threaten with anti-corruption action. Left after much fight -including getting all Assemblyman to go to KL for protest; Kedah fell to PAS years after he left;
2. Johor MB-Osman Saat, threaten with anti-corruption action; left after protracted resistance; Johor remain UMNO’s bastion;
3. Perak MB,Ramli Ngah Talib, threaten with anti-corruption action, left after some resistance; made a Cabinet minister and lost in the crowd; Perak fell to PR after more than a decade;
4. Selangor MB- Harun Idris-threatened with anti-corruption action, gave the famous line that the money he made was to `support UMNO’s campaign’. That didn’t wash with PM Hussein Onn then. Harun was jailed and later joined Semangat 46 led by Razaleigh; Selangor fell to PR after decades that Harun left;
So UMNO has not failed to kick out their MB when they wanted it.In all cases, after some considerable disruption the party came together to keep the state firmly in UMNO’s orbit. In the case where they failed -in Terengganu, it costed them a state government. This is what UMNO is fearful now with regards to Sarawak. But between UMNO/BN’s survival and Taib’s certainly they will know which to prioritise. So: will the MACC investigation suddenly become super-efficient to nab Taib Mahmud? Will they take advantage of possible guilty verdict by Swiss’ FINMA to strike when the iron is hot-which could be within months? UMNO certainly has kept a mountain of files on Taib who reportedly has diverted most of the Federal allocations to his pocket over the years-and they can (cynically) use the compromised welfare of the Sarawakians as the excuse to get rid of Taib!
Taib has become such a liability that it is either UMNO or PR who end up getting rid of Taib. Whoever do the job will be rewarded with the credit to rid Sarawak of a plunderer and help its political fortune.
One consideration that UMNO is fearful is the anti-outsider card that Taib will play, as done by his uncle-the previous Sarawak CM, when his time was up for UMNO. Another fear is: Taib may also, for his survival, give Anwar Ibrahim a call.
So it boils down to who take the initiative and bite the bullet.
It is a either you die or I die situation, which ever way UMNO choose/not choose on Taib. The risks are there. So is the promise.