Forget about sexy rumours that PM-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim is moving to unseat PM Mahathir Mohamad. Also, forget about naughty speculations that Mahathir is about to install Azmin Ali, his blue-eyed boy, as the new deputy prime minister, hence destroying Anwar’s hope to become the next prime minister. They are just distractions from the real issue – the coming demise of UMNO.
The political landscape after last May General Election is absolutely delicate and unique. In a nutshell, both Anwar and Mahathir cannot afford to go for each other’s throat simply because there’s no single dominant force or political party that could call the shot. In short, gone were the days where big bully UMNO would dictate who gets the lobsters and who gets the crumbs.
The formation of Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, which consists of PPBM (Bersatu), PKR, DAP and Amanah is like the epic Chinese history of “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”. Mahathir’s party, Bersatu, won only 13 seats out of the 222 Parliamentary seats. But the party managed to double to 26 seats through defections of UMNO MPs, who could not survive without cash or power.
Anwar’s PKR won 47 seats and increased that number to 50 members in the House of Representatives, also through defections. DAP, a Chinese-majority party, won 42 seats last May while Amanah captured 11 seats. Together with Sabah-based Warisan, a friendly party that possesses 9 seats, the PH government has a comfortable 138 simple majority seats in the 222-seat Parliament.
If either one of the trio – Bersatu (26 seats), PKR (50 seats) or DAP (42 seats) – breaks away from the alliance, its game over for the coalition government. Opposition supporters think UMNO (37 seats) and PAS (18 seats) are the kingmakers. They have forgotten that Sabah (25 seats) and Sarawak (31 seats), once fixed-deposit of UMNO, are the real kingmakers.
Together, Sabah and Sarawak holds 56 seats, more than the combination of seats of the new alliance of UMNO and PAS. To make things more exciting, neither PM Mahathir nor PM-in-waiting Anwar controls the 56 seats from Sabah and Sarawak. Therefore, in the case of horse trading in a power struggle, there’s no guarantee that Mahathir will win or Anwar will lose.
That’s why the battles, infightings and political manoeuvring in “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” was so popular that they were made into comics, video games, films and whatnot. Mahathir, who has offended Sabah and Sarawak by expanding into the two states, might not get the support from them if the prime minister somehow joins forces with UMNO-PAS to terminate Anwar.
Likewise, Anwar might not have the numbers if he decides to kick out the 93-year-old PM Mahathir from the corridors of power. So, when Mahathir on Friday (July 5) invited all Malay parties, including the corrupt UMNO to join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM or Bersatu) in efforts to unite the Malays, it raises more questions, confusion and rumours.
Naturally, pro-UMNO supporters said the move was proof that Mahathir was desperate as Anwar is about to make his move against the world’s oldest leader. Comically, they also claimed Mahathir wanted the Malays to unite under his party because the Chinese DAP is destroying the Malays, which is quite astonishing considering DAP is being called a lapdog of Mahathir by the Chinese community.
Mahathir said – “Yes, join Bersatu. When our group is big, we become strong, but don’t stop others from joining the party (Bersatu), let them join. If we are split, we become weak, united we stand, divided we fall. We find that there are people forming new parties, now we have become six, soon there will be 10, then 100. There are 30 people in one party, How to win (the election),”
Interestingly, Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who happens to be Anwar’s wife, said on Saturday (July 6) that Mahathir’s Bersatu is not the same as UMNO even if it accepts members from the (opposition) Barisan Nasional component member or from other Malay-based parties. Wan Azizah’s comment is proof that Anwar was not making any move against the premier.
Exactly why would Wan Azizah support PM Mahathir’s invitation to Malay-based parties, including UMNO, to join Bersatu, and in the process jeopardise her husband’s journey to become the next prime minister? If indeed Anwar is about to dethrone Mahathir, should not his wife Wan Azizah criticise and condemn Mahathir’s move of inviting corrupt UMNO crooks into the government?
Clearly, Mahathir’s latest move is to make Bersatu the largest party in the coalition. If about 10 unforgivable crooks like former PM Najib Razak and former deputy PM Zahid Hamidi are stripped away, there are still 27 UMNO MPs whom can transform Bersatu as the largest party in Pakatan Harapan. With 53 seats, it will make Bersatu as strong as PKR’s 50 seats.
Heck, Pakatan will even gain a two-thirds supermajority in the Malaysian Parliament required to pass amendments to the Malaysian Constitution. With such a tool, the government can proceed to make the necessary reforms without spending too much unproductive time politicking like presently. This probably explains why Anwar’s wife was supportive of Mahathir’s controversial invitation.
Yes, Mahathir has agreed to forgive UMNO crooks who are ready to repent, never mind how insincere they are. After all, it was the same old man who admitted that even during his first stint as prime minister from 1981 to 2003, corruption happened but was manageable. So, corruption was acceptable to Mahathir as long as it does not explode to a magnitude of 10 on the Richter scale like Najib’s 1MDB.
That also explains why DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang met Mahathir earlier on for about 45 minutes, his second face-to-face meeting with the prime minister since the last general election. It was a pre-emptive meeting so that DAP leaders are prepared and do not go ballistic over the invitation to UMNO crooks to join Bersatu under the pretext of Malay unity.
Only after Bersatu has ballooned to become the largest component party in Pakatan Harapan will Mahathir confidently pass over the premiership to Anwar. It would provide the bargaining chip so that his son – Mukhriz Mahathir – would not be sidelined after Mahathir retires for good. More importantly, it explains the sudden comeback of UMNO president Zahid Hamidi.
Like the despicable Najib Razak, people like Zahid Hamidi, Tengku Adnan, Annuar Musa, Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, are not welcome to join Mahathir’s bandwagon. With record 87 corruption charges hanging around his neck, Zahid is too toxic to be accepted under the PH government. Both Najib and Zahid – two biggest crooks ever produced – can only survive on UMNO platform.
Yes, without the existence of UMNO, Najib and Zahid are “game over”. The talks were that Mohamad Hasan, UMNO deputy president and acting president while Zahid was on garden leave, was open to the idea of joining Mahathir’s bandwagon. That had spooked both Najib and Zahid, prompting the latter to make a sudden shameful comeback and loudly applauded by the former.
And yes, Mahathir’s invitation is probably his last offer for UMNO-Malay to join Bersatu before UMNO is declared illegal and de-registered. Najib and Zahid, both panicked, had to make sure existing UMNO MPs do not cross over. But cracks have begun. You know UMNO is in trouble when Khairy Jamaluddin said UMNO should give serious thought to the invitation to join hands with Bersatu.
However, there’re questions that Mahathir needs to justify. Why should UMNO, armed with 37 MPs, join under a smallish party Bersatu? What is there for the UMNO frogs to jump over? Malay unity is just a marketing gimmick. At the end of the day, it’s still the benefits – power and project – that the corrupt UMNO MPs are looking after.