16 August 2021

Din dah gostan dengan gerabaknya sekali...

Muhyiddin Yassin yang mengumumkan peletakan jawatannya sebagai perdana menteri hari ini memohon maaf kepada seluruh rakyat Malaysia atas kekhilafannya sepanjang mentadbir negara.Presiden Bersatu itu berkata dia melepaskan jawatan selaras dengan kehendak Perlembagaan Persekutuan selepas tidak lagi memiliki majoriti di Parlimen apabila 15 ahli Parlimen Umno menarik sokongan.

"Saya ingin mengambil kesempatan ini untuk memohon keampunan daripada saudara dan saudari atas segala kekhilafan dan kelemahan saya sepanjang saya menjadi perdana menteri. "Saya dan rakan-rakan dalam jemaah menteri telah cuba melakukan yang terbaik untuk menyelamatkan nyawa dan melindungi kehidupan saudara dan saudari sekalian dalam tempoh krisis yang masih kita hadapi pada masa ini.

"Namun, sebagai manusia pastinya ada salah dan silap di sana ini. Jadi saya memohon maaf," katanya ketika menyampaikan perutusan khas, sebenar tadi. Muhyiddin berkata dia menyerahkan kepada kebijaksanaan kepada Yang di-Pertuan Agong untuk memilih perdana menteri baru dan membentuk kerajaan dalam kadar segera. - mk

Dia akan jadi PM gomen caretaker sat sementara YDPA lantik PM yang baru...

Malaysia’s 8th prime minister has tendered his resignation together with his entire cabinet . In a sombre final address to the nation, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said he did all he could to save the Perikatan Nasional-led administration, but it was not meant to be. In a televised address, Muhyiddin announced that he and the Cabinet had resigned as demanded by the Federal Constitution as he no longer enjoyed the support of the majority of MPs. But, he said, it was fated that this would be his last day in office.

Muhyiddin reiterated that he had been threatened politically to intervene in ongoing court cases of high-profile individuals.He thanked his Cabinet colleagues and other senior government officials, such as attorney-general Idrus Harun, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah “and other officials whom I cannot name one by one”, for all their help in managing the pandemic.

He also thanked his wife and family for their endless support, as well as those who had backed him within PN. “To all Malaysians, I thank you for your support. I will continue to be devoted to you and always pray for your health and wellbeing.” Muhyiddin apologised to the people for his mistakes and weaknesses during his tenure. - fmt

Din resigned – As Sabri-Hamzah struggles to 
grab power while Azmin is trapped...

Muhyiddin Yassin resigned on Monday after an audience with King Sultan Abdullah. After his too-little-too-late offers to the Opposition were flatly rejected without even a roundtable talk, it was game over for the 74-year-old prime minister, whose leadership has been plagued with the legitimacy issue ever since he was sworn in as the 8th Prime Minister on March 1, 2020.

After he publicly spoke on national TV, admitting that he indeed has lost the majority as widely suspected, his best option is to resign. At least he could preserve whatever little dignity left. To insist on testing his majority in Parliament when there is none is both foolish and futile. To argue he still has the biggest majority and refuse to let go of his power, and risk being sacked, is even more humiliating.

After betting the wrong horse, one of UMNO infamous rebels and gangsters – Nazri Aziz – is now betting on another horse. He is now running around soliciting statutory declaration for Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri to be the 9th Prime Minister to replace Muhyiddin. But is “turtle egg” Sabri really a prime minister material to begin with? It doesn’t matter even if he has the “IQ of a carrot”.

When Sabri met with Sultan Ibrahim two days ago, just a day after the Johor Ruler lunched with Muhyiddin at the state palace, it immediately sets tongues wagging. To ensure Bersatu (PPBM), Muhyiddin’s party, remains part of the government even after the PM’s resignation, it appears the plan is to promote Deputy PM Sabri and Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin as No. 1 and No.2 respectively.

A weak and clueless new leader like Ismail Sabri is definitely great news to not only the ambitious traitor Hamzah, but also to the Malay Rulers. The last time Malaysia had a strong leader and government, the monarchs saw then-PM Mahathir Mohamad defanged and stripped powers of the Sultans and Agong (King). There’s little doubt that Sabri is an excellent puppet candidate.

The Sabri-Hamzah tag-team is consistent with our article published 2 months ago (read here). But what will happen to Azmin Ali, the blue-eyed gay boy of both Mahathir and Muhyiddin? Azmin, who brought 10 MPs to quit and betray their own party PKR (People’s Justice Party), triggering the collapse of Pakatan Harapan government last year, was thought to be the future prime minister.

Hishammuddin Hussein and Azmin Ali

The popular belief, or at least the propaganda, says that UMNO MP Hishammuddin Hussein and Bersatu MP Azmin Ali would become No. 1 and No. 2 respectively when the time comes for Muhyiddin to retire. It was the ultimate secret recipe to power sharing between UMNO and Bersatu. Both individuals are not only relatively young and cunning, but also are good buddies who holidayed together.

However, the problem with Hishammuddin-Azmin tag team is that both individuals do not have full support from their own parties. If UMNO cannot even fully support one of their own kind (Hishammuddin), how could the party accept an “outsider” like Azmin, who was not only a traitor and untrustworthy, but also a Muslim who was caught in gay sex, as the deputy prime minister?

To make matters worse, Mahiaddin’s two top lieutenants – Senior Minister Azmin Ali and Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin – have been fighting tooth and nail to become the top dog. While Azmin and Hamzah are both traitors, having betrayed their own PKR and UMNO parties respectively, the power-crazy Hamzah considers himself to be more senior and cleverer.

The bad blood between both men actually started after PM Mahiaddin designated Azmin as the de-facto deputy prime minister. While the prime minister said when his new Cabinet was formed in March 2020 that all the four senior ministers are “equal”, he had also announced that Azmin Ali will chair Cabinet meetings whenever he is absent. The next in line is Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

That explains why Azmin Ali and Ismail Sabri was caught banging the table in their argument to claim their seniority and territory. At the same time, Azmin and Hamzah do not see eye to eye largely due to jealousy or envy over the unfair distribution of portfolio, positions and power. Hamzah believes he was the brain behind the “Sheraton Move”, hence deserved the senior position.

Bersatu is clearly divided between Azmin team and Hamzah camp. If Hishammuddin can team up with Azmin, why can’t Hamzah work with Sabri for the position of prime minister and deputy prime minister? After all, Sabri is one of the UMNO vice presidents while Hamzah was formerly from UMNO. There is more synergy with Sabri-Hamzah combo than Hishammuddin-Azmin.

Azmin Ali and Ismail Sabri

And that is precisely what happens now. Hishammuddin-Azmin combo won’t work even if Muhyiddin prefers the combination. While Hishammuddin is weak and has lesser influence among the UMNO rebels, arrogant Azmin has bad blood with both Sabri and Hamzah. To push for Hishammuddin-Azmin as a replacement will definitely destroy Perikatan Nasional beyond repair.

However, the hastily hatched plan to propose Sabri and Hamzah to the King tomorrow may not necessarily work. Not only Sabri, like Hishammuddin, has bet the wrong horse when they blindly stood behind Muhyiddin during the regime’s act of treason against the monarch, but both UMNO rebels have also defiantly disobeyed their own party’s decision to pull out – even till this hour.
The lust for power saw how Hishammuddin and Sabri wanted to have the cake and eat it too. They refuse to quit UMNO because they knew Muhyiddin’s party lacks grassroots and machinery. At the same time, they refuse to quit Bersatu because they wanted to stay in power. The power game has become very interesting because none of them has enough votes to form a new government.

It appears Muhyiddin’s loss of majority – short of 11 votes – has become a new problem with the wicked plan of promoting Sabri. With 15 UMNO MPs out of the government, thanks to UMNO president Zahid Hamidi and his predecessor Najib Razak, Perikatan Nasional coalition is still staring at its 100 votes against the Opposition’s 120 (including 15 UMNO votes).

That’s why Sabri has reached out to former PM Mahathir for support. If the former world’s oldest prime minister can be convinced to swing his party Pejuang’s 4 seats in favour of Sabri, it was hoped that Sabah-based Warisan would fall in line, bringing its 9 MPs to the board. The additional 13 MPs would be enough for Sabri to present his case to the King, at least that was the wishful thinking.

As the kingmaker, you can count on Mahathir to present a long wish list to the desperate PM wannabe Ismail Sabri. The old man had made known that he isn’t interested to become a powerless Mentor Minister. What he wanted is the formation of a National Recovery Council (NRC), of which he will lead. It means Mahathir also wants to become the prime minister – for the third time – under a different pretext.

Ismail Sabri and Hamzah Zainuddin

Even if Mahathir miraculously agrees to the clueless turtle egg Sabri becoming the next PM, there’s a problem with the PAS Islamist party. PAS, upon confirming that Muhyiddin will resign, has made a U-turn. Without the Iron Throne, Bersatu is useless to PAS. In order to suck up to UMNO, PAS reportedly has rejected UMNO rebel Sabri. The Islamist party now says only UMNO endorsed candidate is acceptable.

Still, assuming the monarch is ready to forget and forgive the treachery and treason of Muhyiddin and Sabri, will Azmin play ball with the latest political realignment? Like it or not, once Muhyiddin resigns, it will be dog eat dog once again. Without power, Muhyiddin cannot protect Azmin anymore, let alone give orders to Hamzah to play nice and don’t harm the gay boy.

Sure, Sabri and Hamzah still need Azmin and his 10 loyalists (assuming his loyalists do not jump ship) to ensure Perikatan Nasional coalition remains intact, for the time being. But you don’t need a rocket scientist to tell Azmin that his future is bleak. It’s unlikely he will retain his current powerful and lucrative portfolio – Minister of International Trade and Industry.

Azmin should be smart enough to hedge his bet. And you can bet your last penny that he has already reached out to his former boss, PKR president and Opposition de-facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, seeking opportunities for reconciliation. Considering that Anwar has urged MPs from both sides of the political divide to put aside politics of revenge, eyes should be on Azmin and Anwar.

Azmin’s silence is deafening at the crucial hours when Sabri scrambles soliciting votes and support. Will Azmin once again betray his own government – Perikatan Nasional? The stunning collapse of the Muhyiddin regime effectively traps Azmin in the no man’s land. He needs to think wisely whether to remain in the fragile coalition or start repairing his reputation and image.

The return of Azmin and his band of 10 traitors to PKR or as pro-Opposition independents would certainly boost Anwar’s chances for the Iron Throne and demolish Sabri’s plan. But that would invite a backlash from Pakatan Harapan angry supporters, who may boycott or abandon the Opposition in the next 15th General Election, which is just less than 1½ years away. - FT

Who after Muhyiddin?...

As it stands now, with 15 Umno MPs having sent in letters to the king that they no longer support Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, it is clear that the prime minister has lost his majority in Parliament.

If Muhyiddin can’t make up the numbers, he will eventually have to go. He can only delay the inevitable for a while more; both king and people are getting restive and impatient.

The important question is: who will take over after Muhyiddin? Below’s our list, in no particular order, with our assessment of the person and his fitness for the job. Although conventional wisdom at the moment seems to dictate a candidate from Umno, that’s not absolutely necessary.

Apologies for including Muhyiddin in a list of those after him, but there’s a chance he may yet survive. Please take the chances with a generous pinch of salt. The flavour may not be to your liking.

1. Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi – gangster, facing criminal charges...

It’s curious that he appears to suggest that he should be prime minister. Really, he’s facing multiple criminal charges as the whole country knows. His closeness to Malay gangs, especially Tiga Line, is well known. He has openly called them “orang kita”.

Can he handle Covid-19? Most certainly not. His intellectual capacity is probably lower than Muhyiddin. As with all Umno-type top politicians, they feel they know better about everything than everyone else, even the medical people. The other thing is doing good does not matter – politics is above all.

His chances are very low. Remember, 15 MPs do not a prime minister make – unless you are Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and have hoodwinked an entire nation yet again. Not so soon, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, you don’t have the credentials. He has no stature to be even a compromise candidate. Chances: less than 5%.

2. Datuk Seri Najib Razak – 1MDB architect and convicted criminal...

Surely not him of all people, although his PR is smooth and sensible. He knows when to counter this government by saying the right things at the right time. But we can’t forgive him, can we, for what he did at 1MDB: the borrowing and the subsequent pillage of borrowed funds. Why, you could write a book about it, and indeed I did – 1MDB: The Scandal that Brought Down a Government. He has even less chance than Zahid.

Opinion is divided over whether a conviction automatically disqualifies him, but if he is a choice, it’s likely to be hugely unpopular. Remember, the only reason only a third of Malays voted Umno in the last elections – it has never been less than 50% before – was because of 1MDB and his role in losing as much as RM50 billion for the nation, more if you include opportunity costs. Chances: less than 2%.

3. Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob – an opportunistic moment...

A paucity of good leaders saw his fortunes catapulted to the top, especially with the other Senior Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali sidelined as his popularity plummeted for compound reasons. Notice Azmin’s name is not on this list. Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the accidental deputy prime minister, may become prime minister simply because he is in the right position at the right time.

If anything happens to the ailing prime minister, he automatically ascends to the top position. He has received tonnes of free publicity as the face of major Covid-19 announcements when the prime minister in absentia left it to him to make them. If Muhyiddin is unable to continue, Ismail Sabri steps up into his shoes and may well remain until the 15th general election (GE15). It takes 1-2 years before criminal incompetence and corruption start to show up. His chances: up to 10%.

4. Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah – old stalwart, the compromise candidate...

His chances of becoming prime minister were thwarted when Dr Mahathir supported Tun Musa Hitam for Umno deputy president aeons ago. An aging Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, 84, is hoping that his last chance will materialise.

He may well be a good choice as interim prime minister until GE15. He has the experience and background, and perhaps even the ability. He is sufficiently divorced from everyday politics and jostling and jousting to focus on the problems facing the country.

If Muhyiddin stepping down is the only solution for Perikatan Nasional to stay in power, he may be the best – no, the only compromise candidate acceptable to all. Even the opposition might support him. His chances: perhaps 22%.

5. Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein – a good pedigree but little else...

What do you say about a person who has been rather mediocre so far, although the fact that he is a lawyer helps? But he has a good pedigree. His grandfather Datuk Sir Onn Jaafar is the founding father of Umno and its first president, although he left the party prematurely when it did not take too well to his suggestion of opening membership to all Malayans. A man ahead of his time. His father was the incorruptible, ramrod-straight, no-nonsense Tun Hussein Onn, the third prime minister of Malaysia. Hussein’s only fault was picking Dr Mahathir as his deputy. He admitted as much in later life.

But Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein exhibits none of the characteristics of his forebears. He is a middling politician being pushed to the top by a dearth of quality there. The main one of some quality is one Khairy Jamaluddin, also Covid-19 vaccine minister, considered too young to enter the fray now.

What are his chances? If it is desired that Ismail Sabri is not an ideal candidate for the prime minister’s position, he has an outside chance, perhaps as much as Ismail Sabri – 10%.

6. Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal – riding on East Malaysian credentials...

There is talk now of an East Malaysian possibly taking up the prime minister’s mantle, and this former Umno vice-president has been offered up. But his achievements are limited. He lost the state of Sabah, so how can he be prime minister? He does not even have support in Sabah. He is considered an alternative to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Why would Pakatan Harapan agree? Umno is meanwhile not going to support a dropout – actually, a person who was expelled along with Muhyiddin during Najib’s time.

His party has only nine MPs, even less than Dr Mahathir’s 13 MPs when he became prime minister again in 2018. Shafie is a long shot, his only appeal being that he is from East Malaysia – not quite enough right now to swing it. Let’s give him 5%.

7. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad...

What? Really? Are we Malaysians suckers for punishment? How many times can we take to being lied, cheated, and disappointed? He is the one who was responsible for all this mess in the first place. All he had to do was pass the baton to the willing and eager Anwar, but instead he dropped it – wilfully – at Sheraton. And Muhyiddin picked it up in a flash and left even Dr Mahathir behind and panting.

This name would not be even here if not for the constant cackle of those nostalgic for his time and enamoured of his own shadow economic recovery council, which he will of course head if given the chance. But he will promptly put Tun Daim Zainuddin in charge instead.

That’s what he did after he became prime minister for the second time: delaying setting up the cabinet, can you believe it? Daim was more powerful than Dr Mahathir and the cabinet put together making all major decisions for Malaysia where it mattered most – money, business, and economics. No, Dr Mahathir has hardly a chance after what he did. Let’s say 1%. If you still root for him, read this.

8. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim – will he ever be Prime Minister?...

He is his own worst enemy. He could have been prime minister if he had not let the fox Dr Mahathir into the henhouse even after he did not deliver with 13 out of 51 parliamentary seats contested. If Bersatu was not in PH, they would have won even fewer seats. Don’t believe that? Then read this.

Feathers flew everywhere but instead of turning on the fox, the hens and cockerels started pecking each other – oh, what a mess, needless bloodletting without any kills that went on for 22 months.

Now, Anwar wants to do a deal with Zahid of all people. At least, that’s what they say. He needs to put his head down and work, without compromise, to win GE15.

But let him make it crystal clear: PH will only support its own leader for prime minister, not anyone else. Otherwise, no deal. And that’s only an interim arrangement until GE15, after which it’s each party for itself. That way, you preserve integrity.

All those people who don’t want him forget one thing right now. How Malaysians forget. His coalition – yes, his; Dr Mahathir’s Bersatu only joined it – won the last general election. And if Dr Mahathir had kept his promise, Anwar would have been prime minister now and all this needless politicking would be unnecessary.

And that other thing many non-Malays tell me, that he is a Muslim extremist, I looked and can’t find the evidence. When he was finance minister in the nineties, he appointed a non-Malay secretary general at the Finance Ministry. Ask Tan Sri Clifford Herbert.

In 2008, at a rally in Gombak, a Malay-majority community, where he was campaigning for his then good friend Azmin ahead of GE13, I heard him say unambiguously, “Melayu anak kita, Cina dan India pun anak kita, dan semua lain-lain pun anak kita”, or words to that effect. He was advocating strongly that all poor must be helped irrespective of race. Now, which Umno or Bersatu leader has said that? Please show me the racist, extremist Anwar.

He still has a good chance if he exerts himself. Make it plain that the only leader PH will support for prime minister is the leader of PH. Period. No ifs, buts, and deals. No Dr Mahathirs, Shafies, or any others riding on PH’s baju. No more. Principled people don’t compromise on basics.

It will be poetic justice if he becomes prime minister. After all, that was the express premise and promise of GE15, which Dr Mahathir brutally thwarted at considerable expense to the country.

Also, if Anwar is prime minister, he has access to far better quality people to draw upon as ministers, not the clutch of incompetent, corrupt, and power-hungry monsters who largely constitute our cabinet, head our GLCs, and many state governments to boot from Umno and Bersatu.

9. Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin – the power of incumbency...

My top bets are Tengku Razaleigh, Anwar, and I am very sorry to have to say this, Muhyiddin with a 22% chance each of becoming prime minister. The power of incumbency is strong and can attract MPs who lack moral fibre for the right incentives. Tengku Razaleigh is a great compromise interim candidate until the next polls in 2023.

If PH puts its foot down and is able to entice previous deserters back into the fold from Bersatu, it can do it without having to go to bed with Umno. It can also do this with Umno MPs who are not supporting Muhyiddin but make it plain that it’s every party for itself come GE15. But vision and leadership is sorely lacking right now.

Muhyiddin, meanwhile, has a chance too but most people and politicians want him out for his abysmal handling of Covid-19. And rightfully so. As I write Malaysia is sixth in the world for Covid-19 cases per capita and rising.

Our leadership now is like Donald Trump in the United States where the president threw science out of the window and came up with his own cures for Covid-19. What a refreshing change Biden brought, as he overturned the tide of Covid-19. Muhyiddin needs to go, but will he?

And my top bets...

The power of incumbency is great and Muhyiddin has shown himself to be resourceful in terms of pulling rabbits out of hats at crucial periods. If he had been that inventive with Covid-19, the menace would be behind us by now. He was not and that’s why he should go.

Anwar and PH won the last elections but both the victory and the prime ministership was hijacked by Dr Mahathir whose Bersatu was thrashed at GE14 in the Malay heartland, winning a mere 25% of seats contested, with a miserly 13 seats. If not for PH, they would have won less.

PH and allies need to exert their large number of 88-94 seats now. Make it clear they will only support its leader for the prime minister’s post, no one else. Will it work? You don’t know until you try, will you? –  P. Gunasegaram


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