June 29, 2020.
Recollections & Reflections
HE is without a party but talks as if he still has no equal in Malaysian politics and it was only days ago that Dr. Mahathir Mohamad made it sound as if he remains the one to decide who should be running the country if the present government is thrown out of Putrajaya.
During these unsettling times caused by the Covid-19 health and economic crisis, people simply want clarity instead of being confused further. They want reassurance and calmness of mind by the political leadership, not statements and actions that are divisive and create more uncertainties. But that’s exactly what’s not coming from Mahathir despite his very long involvement in politics, of which 24 years were as prime minister.
After first offering himself as a possible prime minister for a third time despite being 95 in a few weeks’ time and then maybe realising that was not such a brilliant idea after all, Mahathir decided that Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal could do, with a statement claiming that this suggestion was unanimously accepted by a recent meeting attended by the DAP, Amanah and his own small Pribumi Bersatu coterie, including his son Mukhriz. For whatever reason the DAP was over represented, which lends credence to the suspicion that DAP has been having much influence in Mahathir’s politics in the last couple of years .
Everyone else in Pakatan has given a different take on Shafie’s nomination
But a joint statement from the DAP and Amanah was to immediately follow Mahathir’s and in it both parties plainly said that they were non-committal to the idea and will have to bring it before their executive committees, which indicates a not too excited reaction despite Mahathir’s best shot.
A day later Pakatan Harapan secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution made an almost similar statement to the effect that a firm decision on the opposition’s PM candidate would only be known after Friday’s presidential council meeting. He followed this up by alluding to Mahathir’s announcement on Shafie as Mahathir’s candidate.
Saifuddin is also secretary-general of PKR, the party led Anwar Ibrahim, another central figure in this theatrics.
It is understandable that Anwar should feel hard done by, especially when this latest decision regarding the top political chair in the country was made behind his back and one that again places him in the number two position he had held for about five years when Mahathir was PM4, meaning that while it is not a demotion, neither is it an elevation. But just like many others who have been in activism and politics for a long time, Anwar should by now be wise to Mahathir’s ways.
Mahathir has said that Anwar could not possibly be Pakatan’s PM nominee because he had only 96 MPs in his favour, which leads to the question “How many will Mahathir than have without PKR’s support?” Most likely less than 96, which would also count him out.
Anwar may want to be PM so badly but Mahathir too thinks he is most deserving to be one — and everything else
Anwar One of Mahathir’s latest jibes against Anwar is that latter thinks he is the only man fit to be prime minister. This is another Mahathir trait that those who can see through him will tell you is no more than a reflection of the man himself.
Those who think that Mahathir is still needed as the only man who can mobilise enough support to oust the Muhyiddin Yassin-led Perikatan Nasional alliance think so only because they are looking at the pre-GE14 or May 9, 2018, scenario. That, it must be pointed, was a completely different situation. That was a time when more rural Malays decided that Barisan Nasional, in particular Umno, had overstayed their welcome and was becoming more and more a liability. That was a time when these same Malays were prepared to tolerate cooperation with the Chinese dominated DAP to achieve that ultimate target.
Since then many Malays have however viewed the DAP’s role in Pakatan with much suspicion and believe that the DAP was the party calling the shots. They could have been wrong but that was the perception and it was this same distrust that eventually led to a shift that installed the Malay-dominated Perikatan in Putrajaya.
But this is June 2020 and the feelings have shifted again and while there are Malaysians who maintain that Perikatan is no more than a backdoor government despite being lawfully appointed, uppermost in the minds of everyone is the way forward following what the pandemic has done to the economy. The focus since a few months ago is about whether or not your job is safe, your employers can last the distance, whether or not you have enough to pay your rent or mortgage and put food on the table. The uninitiated needs to be reminded that politics is furthest from the minds of everyone.
There is also this question about why the need to be so pre-occupied with this succession plan when the sitting government has almost three years to complete its term. What it’s all about is no more than a desire for Mahathir to have one back at Muhyiddin. It’s about vindictiveness and payback time.
Regardless how the Pakatan presidential council decides, Mahathir’s detractors and doubters have got it right on one point and are now proclaiming to everyone what ultimately is the 94-year-old’s objective – and that is about having the window to be able to Mukhriz somewhere into the equation to be deputy prime minister 2 in a country where there is no provision even for a deputy PM.