Mahathir is on a long trip visiting his “Chinese friends” in the Middle Kingdom. He arrived in Beijing on April 24 and will leave for home on Sunday (April 28). The five-day working visit to China is considered quite a lengthy trip. During his first stint as premier for 22 years from 1981 to 2003, it was known that unexpected things would usually explode when he was overseas.
Now that he has returned to power after 15 years of retirement, people who were familiar with Mahathir’s political game plan are wondering if the same fireworks would happen again, especially after his war of words with the Sultanate of Johor. Mahathir, who was already the country’s longest-serving prime minister when he resigned in 2003, appears to be happy for a new round of war with the monarch.
Sultan Ibrahim of Johor on Thursday (April 25) suddenly urged all parties to set aside any disagreements and misunderstandings, especially regarding the relationship between the state and Federal government. It seems both the sultan and his crown prince are playing good-cop-bad-cop with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad – taking turns attacking and offering an olive branch.
It’s also possible that the Sultan of Johor wanted a ceasefire, at least temporarily, after he victoriously pressured and intimidated the new Menteri Besar (Chief Minister), Sahruddin Jamal, to change the state exco (executive council) line-up to his liking. His statement came in the wake of an article posted by PM Mahathir on Wednesday (April 24) on the importance of adhering to the Federal Constitution.
Mahathir wrote on his personal blog giving a lecture, obviously targeted at the Sultanate of Johor, on the subject of the Federal Constitution of the country. The 93-year-old premier had warned that ignoring the Federal Constitution’s supremacy would renege on the rule of law. Apparently, both Mahathir and the monarch were fighting over which constitution is more supreme.
The Royal House of Johor would like to think, or at least has the perception, that the Johor state constitution was somehow superior. The Crown Prince of Johor Tunku highlighted two Articles of the Federal Constitution on federal guarantees of State Constitutions and the sovereignty of the rulers in a tweet – the Article 71 and Article 181.
Article 71 states – “The Federation shall guarantee the right of a ruler of a state to succeed and to hold, enjoy and exercise the constitutional rights and privileges of the ruler of that state in accordance with the constitution of that state; but any dispute as to the title to the succession as ruler of any state shall be determined solely by such authorities and in such manner, as may be provided by the constitution of that state.”
Article 181 states – “Subject to the provisions of this constitution, the sovereignty, prerogatives, powers, and jurisdiction of the rulers and the prerogatives, powers and jurisdiction of the ruling chiefs of Negeri Sembilan within their respective territories as hitherto had and enjoyed shall remain unaffected.”
But as far as Mahathir is concerned, which many legal eagles agree, the State Constitutions of Johor and Terenggau had been nullified by the Federal Constitution when the Federation of Malaya was formed. In fact, all state constitutions which came into force prior to the 1957 Malaya independence are deemed nullified, hence cannot override the federal law.
The Article 71 and 181 propagated by the Johor Crown Prince do not look like the rulers of Johor or Negeri Sembilan command special powers of being above the Federal Constitution, do they? Any first year law student can tell you that no one is above the law, and the absolute monarchy had long gone – even before the 1957 Independence when Malay Rulers were under the control of the British Empire.
But the juice of the drama isn’t about the Constitution. The juice is about a so-called tense PPBM Supreme Council meeting on the night of April 23 (Tuesday). The meeting, which went on from 6.30pm to 11pm, ended with the party leaders giving 100% support to Mahathir, who is PPBM chairman. Was there a coup within PPBM to overthrow Mahathir that such pledge had to be made?
Dr Mahathir was reportedly upset for being betrayed by the newly crowned Johor Menteri Besar who chose to “kowtow” to the Sultan of Johor, ignoring a Cabinet decision that there was no need for a reshuffle of the state line-up. PPBM President Muhyiddin Yassin, who was in Johor to oversee the matter, has been accused of back-stabbing his boss Mahathir.
Mr. Sahruddin’s insistence that the choice was his and not that of Muhyiddin raises suspicions that Mahathir’s most trusted lieutenant could be the biggest Trojan horse within PPBM. Johorean Muhyiddin has a very close relationship with the Sultanate of Johor that even the opposition had proposed to make him the next Chief Minister of the state recently.
The burning question is whether Mahathir was so ignorant and gullible that he had not the slightest clue that he would be backstabbed twice – first by a young boy like Sahruddin Jamal, follows by his veteran lieutenant Muhyiddin Yassin. To make it more dramatic, the old man was reportedly throwing tantrums – threatening to quit and leaves the party crumbling down.
It’s absolutely hilarious to believe a man who fought the mighty U.S., European Union, the Jews, billionaire George Soros and whatnot would cry like a baby over minor internal matters within his own party. There’s a reason why the cunning fox can rule the country for the second time, despite his PPBM party winning only 13 out of the total 222 Parliamentary seats.
According to Kadir Jasin, the communications adviser to PM Mahathir, the PPBM’s internal discord has been resolved after “an apology was tendered and accepted”. It was believed that the big gun who had apologised was PPBM President and Home Minister Muhyiddin. Interestingly, after the Sultan of Johor offered the olive branch, Muhyiddin did not accept it gracefully.
Muhyiddin said while the sultan’s gesture was appreciated, the Johor Palace must also admit to its role in the hostilities with Putrajaya. He said – “As a Johorean, as a federal minister in the Cabinet, this does not put me at ease at all. We must be bold enough. The sultan also has to agree that certain things have been done by him that created some feelings of uneasiness when it comes to matters of state.”
The Home Minister slammed the Johor Palace – “That has to stop. It is not that he (Johor Sultan) cannot interfere in the management of the state, but interfering in the running of the governance of the state must not be continued.” Coming from an obedient former Menteri Besar of Johor from 1986 to 1995, Muhyiddin’s outburst against the royal house has certainly raised eyebrows.
Did the world’s oldest prime minister know about traitors within his party and deliberately test Muhyiddin by appointing his boy, Sahruddin Jamal, as the new Johor Menteri Besar knowing very well both would betray him? Was Mahathir merely pretending to be shocked over Sahruddin’s unexpected reshuffle of the Johor exco and put up a disappointing face over Muhyiddin’s disloyalty?
Yes, it has nothing to do with which Constitution is more superior. Every Tom, Dick and his hamster knew the Federal Constitution is supreme. It was just a red herring and a distraction. It was one of 36 Chinese Stratagems for Psychological Warfare – to kill with a borrowed knife. Mahathir has cunningly given enough rope to Muhyiddin to hang himself.
To prove his loyalty, Muhyiddin now has no choice but to fight the Sultanate of Johor, something which he had never done before. His refusal to stand up to the royal house could cost him the Home Ministership. At best, he would be sent to early retirement. At worst, he could be sacked and investigated for his past corruption during his reign as the Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of Johor from 1986 to 1995.
It was a genius strategy, creating an illusion that the powerful Home Ministership could be up for grab. Mahathir indirectly consolidates his power and loyalty within PPBM, as everyone tries to be on the good book of the premier. Even PM-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim, who was mocked for kissing the hand of the sultan, agreed that the Federal Constitution had nullified the state constitutions of Johor and Terengganu.
While Mahathir is away overseas, Muhyiddin might have started the battle between the federal government and the monarch. But the real fireworks will not start until 61-year-old Acting Deputy Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador takes over as Inspector-General of Police (IGP) when Mohamad Fuzi Harun retires next month.
Mr. Bador, arguably the most loyal senior police officer to Mahathir, had chosen early retirement in 2015 after he spoke against the previous Najib regime over the 1MDB scandal. In the same year (2015), at the peak of 1MDB scandal, Mr. Abdul Hamid Bador denied he would file a report against Mahathir Mohamad over his attacks against Najib Razak.
He said – “Even if I am cut in 12 pieces, I will never defame the servant of Allah who has contributed so much to the country.” The former deputy head of Special Branch was appointed Special Branch director under the new government of Mahathir last May. If there’s one thing that the Johor Palace should fear, it’s the mysterious Special Branch – a.k.a. CIA of Malaysia.
Source : Finance Twitter