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By Terence Netto

Of muckraking books and health rumours

COMMENT The appearance of a poison-pen book, either directly or elliptically targeting a leader, is usually the sign that Umno's periodic factional battles have reached ignition point.

Amid mounting evidence that a power rivalry between leading protagonists has become undeniable, the characteristic indirection of Malay political culture equips the rivals to sustain the public charade that all's well between them because it seems so on the surface.

A compliant mainstream media plays along in foisting the delusion on the public - admittedly, a more difficult task to bring off after the arrival of the Internet.

But the minute a muckraking book appears targeting one contender, you know the gloves have come off and the rivalry has reached confrontation point.

Then, rumours of a health setback suffered by the targeted power broker begin to circulate which only serve to confirm that in the behind-the-scenes manoeuvring, it was suggested that he should perhaps withdraw on health grounds...