Another Brick in the Wall
It was Wednesday, the 15thof May 2018.
After an audience with the Agong in the day time, he attended a political rally at Padang Timor Petaling Jaya at night. The estimated 10,000 that attended was not the usual number of people he could attract.
It was a rush job. Furthermore, the next day, Muslims were to begin fasting for Ramadhan. Malays tend to refrain from politics during the holy month.
There was nothing significant in the speech. The usual pleasantries and complementariness, including an odd one for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Almost all the winning Pakatan Harapan leaders were there, except Mahathir. In his place was Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as a token representation from PPBM. In any event, Anwar and Muhyiddin have been friends since their student days at University of Malaya.
At that same moment, Mahathir was elsewhere …
Hurdled at his home, he was in discussions with Tun Daim Zainuddin and five other worried faces, including the one of his loyal media officer. Over the years since the late 90s reformasi movement, all had prominent roles.
As Mahathir listened, each vented out their thoughts and views on the prospect of a freed Anwar. They anticipated that he would soon get one PKR MP to vacate an easy seat for him to contest and win as MP.
Two years was not a long time and would pass off quickly. Before long, it would be his turn to take over as Prime Minister.
Though Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah acknowledged that no specific schedule was mentioned for the transition as it would be agreed between Mahathir and Anwar, two years was the period agreed upon by the Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council for Tun to carry out his promise to “Selamatkan Malaysia.”
Anwar had never been modest of his lifelong ambition to be Prime Minister. To any mortal, one prison sentence would be enough to end his (or her) career.
But not Anwar.
The bigger worry for Mahathir and those present at the discussion at his home was that his premiership was not backed by a two thirds majority, but only 13 seats in Parliament.
His position was dependent on the DAP and PKR which hold substantially more seats than PPBM.
If he gets all BN MPs to jump to PPBM, he could get more seats on his side than the DAP and PKR, but the numbers were still not enough, while it was not politically feasible. Mahathir’s list of those he did not want to be associated with was itself a hindrance.
Moreover, the Sarawak BN chapter formed its own coalition, GBS, and were not with him.
So were some of the former BN Sabah MPs that formed part of Gabungan Sabah with Jeffrey Kitingan which seemed more a platform for Christian political interest in Sabah.
Count them out.
If Mahathir could get people to jump over to PPBM, Anwar could do the same.
He seemed unstoppable and destined for PM#8. Already holding the world’s longest PM-in-waiting title, he has no intention to get by-passed at the finishing line again.
Not only Anwar is trying hard to stay patient, so are his foreign backers.
Only after going around the room to allow each to express their opinion – except, perhaps, the media officer – would Mahathir speak. What he heard were voices of frustration and worry derived from the decades of fighting Anwar rather than suggestions or strategy.
However, no one apportioned any blame towards Mahathir for being in bed with the devil. It would have been expressed had he still remained an ex-PM, but he was now back as PM.
One of those present had once openly acknowledged himself as an UMNO man and had no issue with Najib flicking few millions here and there to finance politics.
In the days of reformasi, he had a prominent role. So he stood by Mahathir out of his feudal blind loyalty to the son of a Kerala born immigrant. In his heart, there could be a sense of regret as to what has happened, though that regret was never expressed.
Mahathir listened attentively to their grouses. When they all had their say, he acknowledged their concerns, rambled a few comments, and at the end, he murmered, “Susah-susah bubaq saja …(If it gets difficult, call for a snap election).
The possibility of a snap election was the buzz for quite a while.