Mahathir should not have had sent a boy to do a man’s job. Azmin Ali, his errand boy recruited to weaken the position of prime minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim, has been caught not only engaging sexual activity with another man but was also sued by a travel agency over unpaid family holidays. That speaks volumes how bad Mahathir is at judging people.
But knowing Mahathir, it had always been his intention to deliberately hire or appoint dumb and corrupt people so that they could be controlled. The names like “Black Shoe” Education Minister Maszlee Malik, “Flip-Flop” Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq and “Flying Car” Entrepreneur Development Minister Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof are the infamous “Three Stooges” of Mahathir’s party.
Hence, it’s not surprising that a person like Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali is considered a rare gem to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Actually, the job of Azmin was pretty simple – to act as a check and balance against Anwar. It screams treacherous that Azmin, deputy president of PKR, agrees to work for Mahathir to counter his own boss, PKR president Anwar.
Mr. Azmin knows nuts about the country’s economy, the same way Maszlee is clueless about world class education system and Redzuan’s inability to differentiate about a drone and a flying car. After Mahathir suffered a humiliating defeat in the Tanjung Piai by-election, he is under tremendous pressure to resign and pass the leadership to Anwar.
Suddenly, Azmin arranged a “secret dinner meeting” on Monday (Nov 17), just two days after his political master Mahathir was given a bloody nose by angry voters in Tanjung Piai. When confronted by journalists, the blue-eyed boy of the prime minister claimed there was nothing unusual about the meeting held at his official residence in Precinct 10, Putrajaya.
Mr. Mahathir, as expected, pretended that while he “heard” about the meeting, he nevertheless insisted that he didn’t know what the participants talked about. Sure, his trusted spy was having a secret meeting with the enemies in the middle of the night without his knowledge but he wasn’t furious at all? He should stop insulting people’s intelligence.
Apparently, about 22 MPs (Member of Parliaments) – 17 from UMNO and 5 from PKR – braved the heavy rain to attend a dinner called by Azmin. Every Tom, Dick and Harry knows Mr. Azmin called for the meeting on behalf of Mahathir. Only by throwing the name of Mahathir that the sex maniac Azmin could mobilise opposition UMNO MPs to his home at such hour.
If indeed the chief executive was kept in the dark about the meeting, he should reprimand Azmin’s action for jeopardizing the unity and integrity of the Pakatan Harapan coalition government. Does it make sense that the senior minister misused his name in plotting a grand plan with the opposition parties and yet the prime minister is cool about it?
Basically the dinner gathering has cleared any doubts that Azmin is the traitor of PKR and Hishammuddin Hussein is the betrayer of UMNO. But the meeting was actually another boring session where the errand boy tries to convince the 17 opposition MPs to continue to support Mahathir as prime minister, despite the dwindling public support for the 94-year-old premier.
However, the dinner drama has revealed a more damaging message – Mahathir does not have the number to stay as prime minister. The purpose of the meeting was to send a message to Anwar that Mahathir has sufficient MPs to support him. The burning question is this – why was the so-called “secret meeting” deliberately leaked so that journalists would camp near Azmin house and broadcast it?
If Mahathir’s camp has the number, or was seeking to secure the number, such meeting should have been held in utmost secrecy to maintain the element of surprise. The only time when you scream your lung out to alert your enemies that you’re strong is when you’re actually weak, but you want the enemies to think otherwise.
Yes, it appears that Azmin was trying to deploy the “Empty Fort Strategy” made popular in the Chinese ancient military strategy which involves using reverse psychology (and luck) to deceive the enemy into thinking that an empty location is full of traps and ambushes, and therefore induce the enemy to retreat.
More importantly, if Mahathir has the number and wanted to get rid of Anwar’s PKR faction and allies DAP and Amanah to form a new government consisting of only Malay parties (PPBM, UMNO, PAS and Azmin’s faction in PKR), they would have done so yesterday, and certainly not after the devastating Tanjung Piai election, which Mahathir admitted he had expected to lose.
Let’s take a look at the numbers. Mahathir’s party, PPBM, won only 13 seats out of the 222 Parliamentary seats in the May 2018 General Election. The party managed to double the number to 26 seats through defections of UMNO MPs. After it lost the Tanjung Piai to the opposition over the weekend, its number is reduced to only 25 MPs.
Hishammuddin only managed to bring 17 UMNO MPs with him to the secret dinner meeting. Last month, Azmin had arranged for all 18 PAS MPs and 6 UMNO MPs to express their support for Mahathir to remain prime minister for the full electoral term of 5 years. It’s unknown if the same 6 UMNO MPs had also gone to Azmin’s residence on Monday’s night.
Assuming the 6 UMNO MPs didn’t attend the dinner party, Mahathir’s camp would have 25 PPBM MPs, 18 PAS MPs, and 23 UMNO MPs. Azmin was supposed to bring in at least 15 MPs from PKR. But there were only 5 PKR MPs at the dinner. That means only 71 MPs are willing to support Mahathir. Even if Azmin could eventually persuade 15 PKR MPs to defect, the number is still 81.
To form a simple majority government, Mahathir needs support from at least 112 MPs. So he’s either short of 41 seats (if Azmin could only bring 5 frogs from PKR) or short of 31 seats (if Azmin could secure 15 PKR defectors). Even if the entire opposition Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition supports Mahathir, which is quite impossible, his camp has only maximum 99 seats.
Yes, that’s the message which has been spreading in the social media – 41 MPs from BN, 18 MPs from PAS and 25 MPs from PPBM (Bersatu) together with 19 MPs from Sarawak’s Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and 9 MPs from Azmin’s faction would be strong enough to destroy Anwar’s dream of becoming the next 8th Prime Minister of Malaysia.
That’s a wishful thinking because the equation assumes UMNO crooks currently being charged by Mahathir like Najib Razak, Zahid Hamidi, Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, Tengku Adnan and other UMNO warlords like Nazri Aziz and Khairy Jamaluddin would blindly throw their support behind the prime minister, the same man who had destroyed their gravy train in the last year’s general election.
Just because the 17 UMNO MPs agreed to attend Azmin’s secret dinner does not mean all of them support Mahathir’s premiership. Some of them might be spies sent by Najib and Zahid. That explains why neither former UMNO president Najib nor UMNO president Zahid was surprised or frustrated that almost half of the party’s MPs had gone to the enemy’s house for a dinner.
If Najib and Zahid decide to support Mahathir, it could only mean that all their criminal breach of trust (CBT), money laundering and abuse of power charges would be dropped. For that to happen, Mahathir must be absolutely senile as it will be an admission that Najib didn’t steal a single penny from 1MDB sovereign fund and was wrongly accused by the old man.
One has to remember that when all the 41 UMNO MPs (means Najib, Zahid and other crooks) declare their support for Mahathir, the line would have had been drawn and the Pakatan Harapan coalition would have already collapsed. At that time, Mahathir would be hugging and kissing with protégé-turn-nemesis Najib as they happily form a new Malay-only government.
Besides, there’s no guarantee that all the 19 MPs from Sarawak’s Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) would support Mahathir after his government broke its promise to pay 20% oil royalty to the Borneo state. It’s also not a guarantee that Azmin could swing 9 MPs to make up the 112 seats, let alone 15, to form a simple majority government.
Heck, even Mahathir isn’t sure if his own party would support him 100% in the event he kicks Anwar’s faction out of the coalition. His deputy, PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin, might switch sides and bring some PPBM MPs to join and support Anwar. As a Johorean, Muhyiddin’s loyalty is more with the state of Johor than PPBM, arguably a political party set up by Mahathir for his family.
Unlike Mahathir’s open cold war with the Sultanate of Johor, Anwar has a closer relationship with the monarch, when he gladly kissed the hand of Johor Sultan Ibrahim last year. That’s one of the advantages of not having a dominant party too strong that it could bully, suppress, oppress and corrupt the system. Mahathir and Anwar have entered what is known as a Mexican standoff.
Azmin obviously screws up when he hastily scheduled for another meeting on Tuesday after his Monday’s secret dinner had invited criticisms. It was an afterthought that the second meeting was made, under the pretext of meeting with his fellow party MPs. If Azmin was absolutely sure he has the number, he didn’t have to arrange so many unnecessary meetings.
The simple fact that Mahathir hasn’t gone for the kill proves that he does not have the numbers, if indeed he was the hidden hand behind Azmin’s multiple meetings with opposition parties. Like it or not, the embarrassing loss of Tanjung Piai parliamentary seat has effectively made it more difficult for Azmin to convince and swing more MPs to stand behind Mahathir.
In order not to rock the boat, the Pakatan Harapan coalition might just allow Mahathir to rule for the time being while a serious transition process is discussed. He might be given a third and final chance to do the right things after wasted 18 months of silly politicking and engaging in racial and religious extremism. Anwar does not have to force Mahathir to quit.
Azmin desperately wants Anwar to sack him so that he could cry being victimised. Instead, the smarter Anwar is giving enough ropes for Azmin to hang himself by refusing to fire him. The PM-in-waiting also realises that Mahathir must be allowed to resign with dignity and respect. After all, it was Mahathir, who had successfully secured rural Malay votes to topple crooked Najib Razak.
If Anwar makes his move now, it may backfire as he would be accused of being rude and ungrateful, even seen as bullying an old man – something which is unacceptable in the Malay culture. It would bring back the memory where the people were disgusted at Najib regime’s childish stunt of cutting Mahathir’s posters during the 2018 election campaign