… his reform agenda ran counter to the culture in Umno, a patronage-driven party where warlords have long relied on easy access to government contracts to secure political support. Before long, support among Malaysians also started to slip. His reluctance to upset vested political and business interests disillusioned voters.
Mr Abdullah became a premier under siege from within his own party and an emboldened opposition. His inability to deal with these forces led to his party’s poor showing in the March elections and the rebellion within Umno that has now forced him into early retirement.
Ultimately, he failed to break with the past and reform key institutions such as the judiciary and security agencies. That a decent and well-intentioned man like him failed indicates the extent to which the ruling elite may well be beyond reform.
Badawi’s intended reforms overcome by patronage system in Umno