How Najib trapped Mahathir by keeping quiet

If Najib had replied to the 1MDB attacks and made it ineffective as a weapon, Mahathir may have migrated to the Felda issue instead. And this would have been damaging because Felda represents 54 parliament seats and are Umno strongholds. Umno needs to retain those 54 Felda seats to balance the urban seats that Umno can never win and will always remain DAP or DAP-led Pakatan Harapan seats. With the 54 Felda seats and the 57 East Malaysian seats, that comes to 111 or half the 222 seats in Parliament. 


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Back in 1990, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (Ku Li) said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is a like aberuk (pig-tailed macaque). The crowd in Terengganu was stunned into silence when Ku Li said what was considered an insult done in bad-taste. Ku Li then explained why he said Mahathir is like a beruk. The stronger the monsoon wind, the stronger the beruk will hold on tight to the tree. But when there is absolutely no wind, the beruk will fall to the ground.

So you must not attack Mahathir, said Ku Li. Let him rant, rave and scream sorang diri. If you attack him he becomes stronger. Leave him alone and eventually he will climb down from the tree and then you can whack him dead. Good advice, which, unfortunately, Ku Li himself did not take. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, however, had taken a course in Mahathirism and knew precisely how that old man thinks and does things. And Najib applied the skills he had learned to beat Mahathir at his own game.

The basic and first rule of Mahathirism is he loves only himself and no one else. And as much as he may appear his own man and a tyrant to boot, the reality is even with Mahathir you must play politik dapur, or the codename that Mahathir’s inner circle uses is ‘kitchen cabinet’. In other words, his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Ali, has a strong say in the family and as far as she is concerned their children come first.

Knowing that, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was aware that if Mukhriz did not win an Umno Vice President’s seat in the 2013 Umno party election, after losing the 2009 contest for Umno Youth Leader, then expect trouble. And the fact that Mahathir had given an early warning shot soon after the May 2013 general election was already a very clear sign that a storm was looming over the horizon.

Najib knew that Mukhriz was not going to win. He just does not have what it takes to win. He is too aloof, cannot remember people’s names or where they are from, acts like royalty, never looks people in the eye when he salams them, and so on. He is definitely not a rakyat’s man and the Umno grassroots do not like that type of leader. And just because he carries the Mahathir surname does not mean that is enough to get voted in. Even Najib does not win because of his Razak surname but because of his warm and friendly personality in spite of his orang istana background.


As far as Najib was concerned Mahathir’s attack is imminent. It is not a question of if but when and how. And when they sabotaged 1MDB by blocking its IPO and bank loans, Najib knew where the attack was going to come from. But then that is going to be a ‘weak link’ so it is best that Najib encourages that attack through 1MDB. If you tighten 1MDB and the attacks become difficult they will change tactics and you never know what is going to come next. It is like what America said when they were asked about the Vietnam War. We need a controlled conflict to avoid another form of conflict beyond our control, said the United States.

So 1MDB can be controlled and it will hence be a ‘controlled conflict’. And that is going to be a conflict that will go nowhere and Mahathir will never gain any new ground. Mahathir is going to be bogged down for years like what happened in the battle of the trenches in France during WWI. Day in and day out they will be shooting across no man’s land and can neither advance or retreat.

It was a brilliant strategy that would have made any veteran general proud. If Sun Tzu were still around today he would probably add that as one more point in the Sun Tzu Art of War doctrine. Keep the door open and allow your enemy to walk in and then engage that enemy in an unproductive battle until he tires out while you free yourself to fight the real battle somewhere else — Najib’s Art of War.

In fact, this was mentioned in the previous article, 1MDB is Najib’s weapon, not Mahathir’s(READ HERE). It was like a fish getting all excited seeing the worm squirming in the water not realising that the worm is attached to a hook. And a fish that cannot keep its mouth shut gets hooked, as what happened to Mahathir when he opened his mouth too much.

And Najib knew he had hooked Mahathir good and proper when the first thing that Mahathir said is RM42 billion of 1MDB’s money had disappeared into thin air. Gotcha! Mahathir knew nothing about 1MDB if he can say that RM42 billion of 1MDB’s money had disappeared into thin air. It should have been 1MDB borrowed RM42 billion backed by assets of RM51 billion.

At that point Najib knew the best strategy was to keep quiet and say nothing. Why open your mouth and tell the old man he is wrong and then allow him to go find out what is really going on and come back this time with a correct statement? Let him continue in his ignorance so that he will keep making wrong statements, which he will find difficult to take back later, especially after saying that same thing so many times.

Mahathir thought he saw an opportunity, 1MDB, and he bit hard like a dog with a bone. Muhyiddin Yassin, too, who had always held a grudge against Najib since the time when Abdullah picked him (Najib) instead as the Deputy Prime Minister also saw an opportunity in 1MBD. Most importantly, Najib, too, saw that 1MDB is an opportunity to bog down his enemies in an issue that is of no real danger and which will give them a false sense of victory even as they go nowhere for three or four years until the next general election.

The 1MDB issue can also help Najib flush out his enemies within Umno and Barisan Nasional. Politicians are like wolves and when the leader of the pack appears injured or weak the rest of the pack will turn on it. Najib had to flush out his enemies and the best way that can be done was to appear weak and injured. Then his enemies will reveal themselves.




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