When I moved back to Malaysia I was initially intrigued by politics. I thought, rather hoped, that the struggle would fair and gentlemanly although I have been told there is no such thing as a clean fight in politics. You do whatever it takes, bite off the ears, claw at the eyes, squeeze the balls and punch at the throat, whatever necessary, lie, cheat, bribe and imprison to win regardless of costs. Today, I cannot but agree that Malaysian politics, albeit fascinating and bewildering, is outright dirty gutter. Numbed, I am no longer shocked to hear that even scumbags and crooks should be selected as candidates so long as they win election. Look at the bunch of morons and goons in the present August House. Sigh, now I am politically aware.
Most recent political struggle that is hogging the media limelight is the most embarrassing and protracted clash of the country’s former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir better known as Dr. M against his selected heir the present Prime Minister Najib. Like his predecessor Pak Lah, Najib ignores Dr. M. As such, Dr. M has no choice but to strike Najib from his pocket booklet, and Najib has to go.
When Dr. M voiced his displeasure, many thought Najib’s days were numbered. His silence and inactions then were suggestive of Najib negotiation for an amicable exit. It is an open national secret. However, unlike Pak Lah, Najib refuses to go away. He did give the appearance of rolling over dead but he was just playing dead. Instead he gave them his middle finger. Many including the wily old fox Dr. M were fooled. Come what may, Najib is staying put for the duration.
Sabre rattling about 1MDB debacle and $2.6 billion deposit scandal is not going to work. Even the threat of tabling the motion of no confidence in Parliament will be a non starter. Najib knows the motion will not be carried as it will have enough votes without support from Members of Parliament from his party UMNO. The brouhaha by the MPs from the other side of the divide, the opposite side, is nothing but song and dance around the campfire. Any attempt to table such a motion will be foolery and futility as it would never see the light of day.
Even the massive people’s movement BERSIH failed to rock the boat, mere ripples, just an irritating side show. And Dr. M was there, so what. Najib’s counter-productive Red shirt rally was easily dismissed as works of jesters. Implementing the Goods and Services Tax, raising petrol prices when global crude prices are dropping and raising toll rates are amongst the many unpopular Government measures attracted sporadic uproar and flash mobs soon forgotten.
Dr. M is well informed and assessed of the present situation. He understands his present predicament. He knows he faces more than an uphill task, herculean, to dislodge Najib. He dictated the incumbency. He strengthened the defensive entrenchment, deepened the watery impediments and fortified the protective walls around incumbency by destroying the other pillars of Democracy and corrupting the constitutional checks and balances against abuses of power in order to concentrate all powers in the hands of the PM, his then obviously. He enjoyed his absolute, unquestionable and almost dictatorial power during his 22-year iron fisted rule. Now he knows he has no choice but to continue to wage an all out however attritional the assault if he wants to dislodge Najib. He must attack from all fronts, through his proxies and media, frontal and fifth column, within and without, however long whatever the cost, with only the downfall of Najib no less as his paramount goal. Losing or withdrawing from the fight is not, never, an option for Dr. M. He would either win or die fighting.
Dr. M’s gloves are off. He is not averse to getting his hands dirty even wallowing in cesspools. He does not seem to shy away from stirring shit or slinging mud whatsoever available and whichever convenient so long as he can get his hands on them and hoping that some would stick and stink Najib. Plain, simple and downright dirty frontal onslaught to wear Najib down and force him into throwing in his towel. There is no other outcome, embattled Najib must be forced to tuck his tail between his legs and bow out. One must not underestimate Dr. M. Despite his age, a nonagenarian no less, he is still relentlessly tenacious. His mind is still spitefully alert, his tongue venomously sharp and heart maliciously wicked. Befriend him at your own peril. Be wary when he embraces you and don’t be surprised when not if you find a knife sticking out your chest.
So far Najib has proven to be a tough nut to crack. He has the high ground. Rather than throwing in the towel like his predecessor, Pak Lah, he is absorbing all Dr. M’s punches, rope-a-dope ala Mohammad Ali, before jabbing out a few well aimed punches of his own by purging and incarcerating known Dr. M’s supporters and those running to his banner. He has also started to circle the wagons by appointing his loyalists to key positions. He is not shy about going back on his words. Come on, he is a politician. Politicians speak with forked tongue. They lie all the time, whenever convenient, since their crooked words have the honor more crooked than the belly of a rattlesnake. He is not taking any chances by striking out preemptively against any perceived threats, real or otherwise, to his position. Evidently, he is not a “sick cat” as many perceived earlier but more of a “sleeping tiger” to Dr. M’s dismay.
In military terms, Dr. M has so far been out flanked and out maneuvered. He needs to re-group and re-strategize his next assaults. When all else fails, Dr. M falls back on the over used and over rated Chinese Bogeymen. He did attempt by accusing Najib being too generous to the Chinese at the expense of the Malay populace and somehow strenuously linking Najib’s cordial relationship with Singapore as bowing to the Chinese. That’s Dr. M in case you do not know him.
So far nothing seems to work. Since Najib is not obliging him, Dr. M has no choice but to change his tack. Recently, he asserted that the Malays should emulate the Chinese who dumped MCA when it failed them economically and likewise the Malays should dump UMNO. Hasn’t he been using the Chinese as the punching bag and bogeyman to justify his discriminatory racial policies, handouts and quotas during his tenure? Now he is saying emulate the Chinese bogeyman. Has he lost his marbles? Did the wily of old fox experience his moment of epiphany? What the hell is that old fox up to? Many are baffled. Don’t be, just remember a leopard does not change its spots.
He knows his carpet bombardments have all failed miserably to dislodge Najib. Najib may be shaken, embattled even, but not dislodged. Running low on ammunition, he needs to bomb smartly and precisely at UMNO, Najib’s bastion. As in medieval warfare, he needs to dig below the foundation like sappers to undermine the very foundation of UMNO. He understands the politics of patronage for he created it. He knows Najib’s warchest can only buy support from that many, not all, UMNO warlords. Thus, he is persuading the disenfranchised warlords to his cause and appealing to the disgruntled grassroots to instigate an internal revolt within UMNO to oust Najib as the President and in turn the Prime Minister of Malaysia. He could not care less whether there will be bloodshed. He has shown neither aversion to nor fear of blood so long as Najib is ousted. Well, some said he is one of the masterminds behind May 13 racial riot which was actually a political maneuver to remove the then President of UMNO and first PM of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman.
So far, only a handful of the warlords dare to join his ranks and the grassroots have yet to swell, only minor tremors and rumbling, nothing serious. The jury is still out. The push has not come to shove yet. However, if Dr. M persists in his dare, Najib may one day grant him, despite his name and age, his wish for an all expense paid stay at Sungai Buloh Prison. If Najib is in the good mood, he might give Dr. M the honor of bunking with his erstwhile protégé and deputy, Anwar. However, if he wakes up on the wrong side of his bed, he might lock him up in solitary confinement just to shut both up. Come to think about it, he is better off throwing away both keys. In a hundred days, Dr. M will fade from memory, forgotten in mundanity. Anwar, who? Ain’t politics in Malaysia most excitingly bewildering and tantalizingly fascinating.
So pop the champagne and serve the hors d’oeuvres, sit back, enjoy and let the show begins. How is this show going to end? I can let you in on what I see in my crystal ball. In the end, amidst thunderous applause and festivities, Malaysia finally joins the first world countries and everyone lives happily ever after.
Pause. Re-wind. However, in the meantime, there will proxy skirmishes, media melees, minor fracas and may be even racial bickering and religious scuffle, sensitive but none decisive until the next battle line is drawn after GE14 in 2018. So don’t fret, just live your life to your fullest.
Pause. Re-wind. How about Dr. M and Najib? I am certain Dr. M will meet his maker soon, may be pre-GE14 and may be post-GE14. You will have to ask Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos the exact date. Will he be arrested? Najib does not need to do so, bad for PR to jail a frail old man however feisty. I doubt Najib is foolish. He can easily isolate Dr. M and reduce his voice into an old lonely man muttering by himself in the wilderness. Remember Generals Patton and MacArthur, both old heroes just faded away into historical oblivion. As for Najib, he will remain the PM until GE14, after which the political landscape and UMNO will in all likelihood nudge him out on an indefinite gardening leave. I may be wrong though as my crystal ball is opaque glass. So now that you know the full story, the cast, props and scripts, plot and sub-plots, and most importantly the ending, adopt a heck care attitude and live life, man. Just don’t go around calling me Prophet Killjoy and do have some patience to indulge me when I say, “I told you so.”