WHEN a nonagenarian political veteran ran an election campaign promising changes to country’s 61-year-old post-independence system of governance, many Malaysians swallowed the idea hook, line and sinker.
Hence, the historical 14th General Election (GE14).
The Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government was finally knocked off its perch, marking the return of former 4th Prime Minister (PM4) Tun Mahathir Mohamad, 94, as the country’s PM7.
As the PM7 in a new Malaysia, Mahathir was supposed to bring changes, drastic ones to clear the so-called baggage of previous BN administration, which Pakatan Harapan (PH) had claimed as “corrupt and bankrupt of ideas.”
However, some 18 months later since the triumphant May 2018, PH made of Mahathir’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu, Amanah, PKR and DAP, now faces a major crisis of confidence after the coalition suffered its fourth straight by-election defeat in Peninsular to arch-rival BN.
The Tanjung Piai electoral reverse was speculator with BN candidate Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng from MCA sweeping aside his 5 other rivals by a thumping 15,086-vote majority.
Wee, a former two-term Tanjung Piai MP, garnered 25,466 votes against PH candidate Karmaine Sardini (10,380 votes); Gerakan’s Wendy Subramaniam (1,707), Datuk Dr Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz of Berjasa (850) and two independents, Dr Ang Chuan Lock (380) and Faridah Aryani Abdul Ghaffar (32).
Many reasons were mooted for PH’s Tanjung Piai disaster, among them one claiming “Mahathir had overstayed his welcome.”
“It was time for him to go and handover the reins to PKR president and Port Dickson Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim,” Mahathir had been publicly told especially by pro-Anwar and pro-DAP supporters.
Anwar, with strong backing from DAP and Amanah, may table a vote of no confidence against Mahathir’s leadership in the current parliamentary session.
He may also use the PH presidential council to pressure Mahathir out.
Either way, one message is clear – Pribumi’s coalition partners in PH want Mahathir out and Anwar to take over as PM8.
But a stubborn Mahathir has in recent days showed that he would resist any move to oust him.
Since coming to power on May 9, 2018 until today, PH performance at best has been mediocre.
Many Malaysians would opined that PH had done nothing right, nothing good.
Yesterday, Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng blasted the PH government during his parliamentary speech for failing to fulfill its election promises.
He said the Tanjung Piai defeat was a clear sign that people were fed up with PH government’s failure to fulfill election promises and making frequent policy U-turns.
The DAP man was particularly irked by PH’s failure to boot out Lynas Advanced Material Plant from Kuantan’s Gebeng Industrial Park in Pahang as promised during the GE14 campaign.
“We don’t want be an inverse government. We don’t be an U-turn government.”
To evade public criticisms, DAP, Anwar-faction of PKR and Amanah are pinning all blames over the coalition’s poor and miserable performance squarely on Mahathir.
They are making Mahathir the scapegoat when they should collectively shoulder the blame.
They want to let Mahathir fry for their political survival.
Is Mahathir going to allow his adversaries in PH to topple him so easily without a fight?
Mahathir is a man who craves for power and loves to use the power to the maximum.
He has already hinted that he was ready to wield the axe to chop off certain inept ministers from his Cabinet to make his government work.
During the GE14 campaign, many PH leaders told voters that Mahathir would only rule as PM7 for two years the most before Anwar takes over.
If that’s true, why should Mahathir reshuffle his Cabinet now, just some 6 months from the deadline?
The veteran politician seems to have other ideas.
He may not handover to Anwar after all.
Vote Of No Confidence
Although he denied it, many observers believe it was Mahathir who ordered his henchmen Datuk Seri Azmin Ali to have a secret meeting with BN lawmakers early this week.
Mahathir is said to have ordered the meeting to take a head count on his parliamentary numbers in case he was challenged by Anwar to prove his majority support in the lower house of Parliament or Dewan Rakyat soon.
It’s learnt that Mahathir is still short of numbers, and at the same time, Anwar too is said to be short of numbers.
Anwar however, has to have a go at Mahathir.
It’s now or never for Anwar, hence the vote of no confidence.
It may lead to a hung parliament and a premature GE15.
Malaysia has never experienced the current political situation before.
But there is always a first time for everything.
Malaysians need not be panic.
Malaysia is actually undergoing a due process of democracy following the collapse of a long serving ruling party.
This had happened in many other democracies around the world before.
The current political crisis could lead to an eventual demise of PH and pave way for a new hastily constituted coalition government.
It may not always happen that way though.
Based on the current composition of parliamentary representation of each party, no one may able to command the majority support among members of Dewan Rakyat to head the federal government in the event a vote of no confidence was tabled against Mahathir.
Both Mahathir and Anwar may end up failing to muster enough parliamentary numbers to form a government, hence a hung parliament.
To end the ensuing constitutional crisis, His Majesty The King will dissolve the parliament and call for a snap GE15.
This could happen soon if Anwar makes his move to oust Mahathir. – 21 November 2019.