Saturday, 26 Sep 2020

Will Mahathir lead the charge in Malaysia's next GE?: Sin Chew Daily contributor

KUALA LUMPUR (SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Speaking as an academic and using nothing but cold, hard facts, it is my opinion that only Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wears the mantle of fire that can win back the country for Malaysian.

This article is NOT about if he, Dr Mahathir, will make a good prime minister for all of Malaysians, but it is about who can be the commander-in-chief who can control the theatre of war in a general election.

Hear me out first, please. When a political scientist in a public university recently said that Dr Mahathir no longer poses a threat to Perikatan Nasional (PN) because he has no more power, I had to smile thinking how simplistic such a so-called analysis coming from a professor was.

This professor simply used the idea that once you are no longer in power, you are basically “history”.

This may be true for the likes of former prime minister Najib Razak, former prime minister Abdullah Badawi, United Malays National Organisation (Umno) president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and many other Umno leaders, but not so for one Mahathir Mohamad.

The professor has simplistically ignored several aspects of Dr Mahathir’s history that we have all come to know, and history is the main argument for him to be the most influential figure in Malaysia’s political history of the past four decades.

When Utusan Malaysia published a big headline “Bersatu tidak terjejas, Muhyiddin stabil (Bersatu is unaffected, Muhyiddin is stable)”, I smiled because the first rule of Malaysian Malay media in politics is that the bigger the headline, the bigger the lie.

The headline, which was followed by an article from a senior editor, who also echoed that PN and Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin are strong, shows without a doubt that the little “nyamuk” party of Dr Mahathir has rattled the corridors of power.

Well, why not? The little nyamuk Aedes (mosquito) can cause death from dengue fever. Don’t play play!

Then, I heard that hardly was the party a day old when defections started to happen from Bersatu.

The latest news is that a whole division has defected in Johor and this has sent none other than the Prime Minister himself to that state.

Usually, the Boss would just send his second in command, but wait a minute… there is no second in command! It should be another Bersatu man like Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof, but Tan Sri Muhyiddin has anointed Senior Minister for Economy and the Minister of International Trade and Industry Mohamed Azmin Ali as his second, although Mr Azmin and his 10 defectors are party-less and in truth… neither here nor anywhere.

Why should the president, chairman and Prime Minister himself have to handle Johor? Because… Mahathir is still ‘The Man’!

Most concerned Malaysians know that Dr Mahathir was the architect of the destruction of all the institutions like the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the police, the Attorney-General’s Office and the judiciary.

These four institutions, once held in the highest esteem, are now a joke to many Malaysians. There seems to be no credibility left in any of them after Dr Mahathir.

He has his hands deep into the tangled web and can pull strings here and there. Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim may make a good Malaysian leader but he is not made for open warfare.

One sodomy charge and he is gone. If Datuk Seri Anwar leads the battle, either the Yusoff Rawther accusations will check him or his pardon could be reversed.

Mr Anwar also lacks the talent of dealing with his enemies inside the party like Azmin and Zuraida.

Ever since Mr Anwar came to power in PKR, there have been so many defections and loss of faith in him.

The ink on Dr Mahathir’s new party registration form is not even dry but defections in Bersatu has caused even the top Bersatu man wielding total power of the nation to worry enough to handle the situation himself.

Dr Mahathir is also a pragmatic man. He has shown that he can propose Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal to fire the imagination of East Malaysians for the top post, while Mr Anwar adamantly insisted he was the man to be the PM.

Mr Anwar is clearly fighting for his own ego and not to the best interest of his coalition. In the Slim by-election, the Democratic Action Party and Amanah are ready to be with Dr Mahathir but not Mr Anwar.

He sits sulking in Port Dickson soon to be alone only with his few loyal friends and family. That is not the way to win a fight.

Before this, PN thought that the Slim by-election would be a walkover like the previous by-election where PH lamely gave up. There are many ways for Dr Mahathir to win and there are many ways also for Bersatu and PN to lose.

Just by putting up a candidate, Dr Mahathir has already scored points as a pejuang or warrior. Now, he gets a legitimate platform to convince the Malays who are the real perosak (pests) and perompak Melayu (Malay pirates).

The non-Malays, who are frightened of PN wielding power over the spirit and procedures of Parliament, will probably back Dr Mahathir.

Malaysians are worried about the one-day silent parliamentary seating, shocked at the removal of the Speaker and frightened that the 14-day period to choose and elect a speaker was not followed.

The most shocking thing of all was the dropping of charges on former chief minister Musa Aman.

In 2018, the same Musa Aman can be seen on wheelchairs or lying in a hospital bed begging for his passport to be treated overseas.

Now that his charges have been dropped, he seems to be a completely healthy man running around gathering SDs and suing the royal palace for improper procedures of dissolving the State Assembly.

People will support Dr Mahathir because they have seen that PN, in just a few months, has done worse things that BN had done in decades.

Even if Dr Mahathir’s man loses the Slim election, the votes garnered for a new party that is willing to stand against the full might of the Prime Minister himself speak of the days of Hang Jebat daring and ridiculing the mighty Raja Melayu.

The Slim by-election promises a saga not to be missed as it heralds the coming back of the Old Man who only a few months ago was beaten off his pedestal by his “friends” in Bersatu and defectors of PKR.

We saw in 2018 how Dr Mahathir led the coalition to beat a “Raja Melayu” in the person of Najib.

I predict that Dr Mahathir will be back in top form to destroy another Raja Melayu that was once his hulubalang (warlord).

Before Dr Mahathir and his ragtag men of few hulubalangs set up Parti Pejuang Tanah Air, I could not see any fight against the mighty Muafakat Nasional, which is solidly backed by the Malay middle class and the so called “Malay educated” class.

East Malaysians and these Malays will never follow Mr Anwar’s call but the Sabahans and Sarawakians, as well as a significant Merdeka generations, will come to the call of the Old Warrior.

This is going to be an interesting by-election and a trailer for the general election to come. Mahathir is back!

The writer is a professor at a Malaysian university. Sin Chew Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media entities.

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