Malaysia: A disorderly, chaotic power scrambleFebruary 25, 2020
Malaysia is seeing one of its worst disorderly, chaotic power transition and it is a scuffle.
This is an all for one fight with acting Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad leaving power for anyone to grab.
For months, pressed by the media, Dr Mahathir made it clear he is handing power to Anwar Ibrahim.
Anwar is the pm-to-be in Malaysia after the 2018 elections that saw the shocking defeat of the Barisan Nasional. The BN had ruled for 61 years uninterrupted.
Defeating the BN was a feat but to become PM with a new coalition was not that easy.
The leader of the winning party, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, gave the post on a platter to Mahathir.
Mahathir has been PM of Malaysia for 22 years, starting with his first stint in power way back in 1981.
He left power in 2003 after a massive backlash for putting Anwar Ibrahim in jail. It was time to hand over and he did it without complaining.
Abdullah Badawi took over from Mahathir. Then came Najib Razak, the man Mahathir himself anointed as the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Mahathir had gone against Abdullah Badawi, calling him the sleeping PM. He forced the PM to quit to install Najib in power.
History has it that he will come back to join Anwar Ibrahim in the latter’s strong opposition coalition. This allowed him to defeat Najib Razak and become PM again.
Breaking his multiple promises of a smooth and fair transition, the Mahathir appears to have dumped Anwar Ibrahim.
He also craftily avoided the deal made between him and Anwar in January 2018 prior to the elections.
The deal states that Mahathir will be in power for two years and will hand over power to Anwar.
That should be May 2020 which is exactly two years after the May 2018 win by the Pakatan Harapan.
But with Mahathir’s quitting suddenly from his post as PM, he scuttled the deal. He is now appointed as interim Prime Minister, in a shocking turn of events.
However, this means there is no more deal between him and Anwar.
With the Pakatan Harapan collapse—it is still in control for now— Mahathir does not have to honour the 2018 deal.
Call it whatever you want, the old fox craftily manoeuvred Anwar out of the Prime Ministership.
ANWAR REMAINS CALM
With Mahathir in charge as an interim PM, the Pakatan Harapan coalition does not have any control over him.
The Friday last week Pakatan Harapan Council meeting will be the last they held with Mahathir as chairman.
It does not augur well for the PH. Mahathir can now nominate whoever he wants as PM. As long as the person has the credibility and power.
While most analysts are focusing their conclusion on who has the most mps in the Parliament, only a party leader can be PM.
This leaves Mahathir with limited choices. Either it is Anwar and he finally hands the power to the Parti Keadilan Rakyat leader. Or he digresses again and hands the PM post to another party.
In this case, only Muhyiddin Yassin appears to be the next choice. The Bersatu leader has the support of the opposition Umno-PAS.
This may bring him the numbers if the break-away PKR faction under Azmin Ali supports him. There is a good chance they will.
But in this scuffle, it is Anwar Ibrahim who is the calmest. He is reaching out to Dr M with peace offerings.
One of the proposals by Anwar is to reinstate Mahathir as Prime Minister. But will Mahathir make a new deal that will not give Anwar the chance to take over as PM?
While many are accusing Anwar of power-grabbing and of impatience, he is not running away with the throne.
There are a dozen heads that are saying the title of PM fits them best. This is while Dr Mahathir is in a sour mood.
The picture above shows a sour-faced ex-PM who certainly did not have enough sleep.
Did he think it well over? Or is his reaction to quitting in such a brutal manner a head-against-the-wall moment?
The big question is why did Mahathir not hand power to Anwar before he quits? What is the game plan?