“Mahathir is dead sure that Anwar will take revenge by going after him, his children, Zeti and Daim. The only way he can call for a general election is if he gains complete control of UMNO and all its assets. But now that the party has forged a working relationship with PAS, the idea of him entering a deal with Najib is quickly fading into thin air. Time is not on Mahathir’s side, as neither he nor Daim have the faintest idea how to generate revenue for the country”
Raggie Jessy Rithaudeen
All it took was a handshake with a convicted sodomite, a stage presence with an arch nemesis and repeated blog posts of how the country was being sold to China, and Malays who swore never to forgive a 93 year old “mad Hitler” were willing to open their arms in anticipation of his return. The doctor came with a prescription on how to solve the country’s non-existent ills. Problem is, he wrote the prescription in pencil, not ink.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s spectacular return as Prime Minister was supposed to be a cause for celebration for millions of Pakatan Harapan supporters. You even had UMNO loyalists welcoming his return because they were longing to “teach their high-headed leaders a lesson.” Mahathir promised to lower the national debt by weeding out corruption and abolishing the Goods and Service Tax. Fast forward a year, and we’re worse off than we were in May 2018. And the prescription?
It’s still in pencil.
The thing is, Mahathir himself is unsure what to do. Back in the eighties and nineties, things were different. His first five years as Prime Minister saw him promoting heavy industrialisation, cutting government spending and placing government linked entities under his scrutiny. In 1984, he appointed Tun Daim Zainuddin as Minister of Finance and fast tracked the reversal of all his predecessors’ fiscal policies. Daim ‘rationalised’ the banking sector by putting his people in charge and helped Mahathir privatise state-owned enterprises to reduce expenditure.
But the ‘piratisation’, as it was called, seemed concentrated among a select number of individuals who either were Mahathir’s or Daim’s cronies. While there was considerable evidence of state intervention to accomplish this, people just refused to talk. Mahathir placed his most trusted men in strategic positions within government and government-linked entities and concentrated wealth in their hands. The monopoly and control these people exerted made them so rich that they fought hard to keep Mahathirism alive.
Yes, Mahathirism, a political-economic superstructure many UMNO warlords thrived on. Mahathir got his cronies to move around wealth to create the perception that the country was prospering. He allowed them to purchase government assets at heavily discounted prices and encouraged shoddy mergers, share swaps and corporate acquisitions. Some of the swaps were so terribly lopsided and complicated that it made tracing the ownerships of privatised entities an arduous task.
But that’s how he got away with murder. Granted, twenty-two years as Prime Minister is a long time for one to be in power without risking having people talk. But no matter who talked, the element of control and monopoly allowed Mahathir to move his wealth, rape government entities and loot the country’s coffers. Apart from the occasional leaks, information was kept tightly guarded all round as he kept everyone’s hands soiled. This prevented his people from talking as they themselves were completely corrupt. The overall “sphere of influence, control and corruption” allowed the Malaysian economy to appear robust and triggered multiple bull runs on heavily guarded tracks.
But that was then.
Thanks to the World Wide Web, there has been a dramatic shift as to how people gather information and how they earn a living. The internet brought about greater efficiency and profitability in marketing and finance, forced businesses to rethink the nature of their hierarchies, management styles and bureaucracies and helped integrate the international economy. We’re in an era that didn’t exist back in the eighties and for the most part of the nineties. The workforce is gradually moving online, while the idea of there being state-sponsored monopolies quickly fading into a quaint memory. There is no longer such a thing as untold wealth being concentrated in the hands of a select few cronies.
Today, we have tens of thousands of multimillionaires and a significant number of billionaires who made money through the internet. These “modern day tycoons” are neither state-sponsored nor promoted but exert significant control over the economy. When they began eating into the crony-market, things were not so bad yet for Mahathir and gang. But when Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak pulled the plug on some crony ventures – particularly those linked to the Independent Power Producers – Mahathir drew the line. His cronies came crawling back to him and persuaded him to return as Prime Minister. When Mahathir said ok, Daim hopped on board.
But little did the duo anticipate that PPBM would only secure a 13-seat win during the 14thgeneral election. Mahathir had hoped for a bigger margin as he needed the bargaining power to strike a deal with UMNO Members of Parliament. The plan was for him to get a bulk of these MPs to cross-over to PPBM before commencing talks with PAS and Amanah. Mahathir wanted to establish a new Muslim majority coalition without the DAP and turn Dato’ Seri Azmin Ali into the next Prime Minister. Should everyone have agreed to the plan, he would have struck a deal with Najib before merging PPBM with UMNO.
He wants to get a hold of UMNO’s assets. And we’re talking billions upon billions of dollars here, locked in various asset categories. His cronies helped purchase these assets back in the eighties and the nineties. Some of these assets are parked under proxy and nominee concerns, while others are being held by Lembaga Tabung Haji, Felda, Permodalan Nasional Berhad, Khazanah, Felcra and a couple of Najib’s proxies. Mahathir needs to take control of these assets as the idea of him initiating yet another round of “austerity measures” and privatisation will not shift the market monopoly back to his cronies. As it is, he already has his hands on Khazanah and has put his second most trusted aide, Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, in charge of PNB.
As we speak, Zeti is getting her people to manipulate TH and a bulk of its assets. Some of these assets were purchased at heavily discounted prices and are now worth billions upon billions of dollars. The whole idea of placing these assets under the care of a Special Purpose Vehicle was to keep the mouths of some DAP leaders shut. Mahathir needed room to place PWTC, Bangunan Ilmu and some other UMNO assets under the control of his cronies. To prevent the DAP from telling on him, he presented some of its leaders “Muslim assets” to soil their hands. Once he gets what he wants, he will either call for a general election or hand over the premiership to Azmin Ali.
Do you know why?
Because he can’t afford Anwar Ibrahim to take over as Prime Minister. Mahathir is dead sure that Anwar will take revenge by going after him, his children, Zeti and Daim. The only way he can call for a general election is if he gains complete control of UMNO and all its assets. However, now that the party has forged a working relationship with PAS, the idea of him entering a deal with Najib is quickly fading into thin air. But that doesn’t even begin to describe what the biggest dilemma facing him and his people is.
The problem is, neither he nor Daim have the faintest idea how to generate enough revenue for the country. Not only is the formula they used back in the eighties and nineties no longer relevant in this digital day and time, the money they’re looting from Petronas just isn’t enough. Without UMNO’s assets, Mahathir will not be able to rejuvenate the country’s economy enough to leave Azmin with the billions to manipulate future elections. So, if everything else fails, he will do the only one thing left for him to do which you can bet your last dollar he will do.
And that is, he will send Anwar back to jail.
Once accomplished, he will get the Election Commission to disqualify several UMNO, DAP and PKR MPs for overspending during the 14th general election. Mahathir has evidence of all this and will get the newly appointed Chief Justice to support him. The Attorney-General can’t do much, as Mahathir has the dirty file on him too. Actually, Mahathir more or less has the dirty file on just about everyone in government, including Lim Guan Eng, Tony Pua and Lim Kit Siang. Why else do you think the senior Lim is not his usual foul mouthed, “dragon tongued” self, and why do you think the Prime Minister has been letting the DAP get away with murder all this while?