Mahathir is a master of sleight of hand or silap mata. Do not watch his raised hand but monitor his hidden hand instead. When Mahathir says or does something it is always a prelude to the next move. So what is his next move after ‘burying the hatchet’?
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made famous the saying ‘Melayu mudah lupa’. I say ‘M mudah lupa’ — and M can mean Melayu, Mahathir or Mamak, whatever tickles your fancy.
Some people say I keep repeating the same stories over and over again. Some even say they are bored reading the same issues from me. Well, I suppose that depends on where your sympathies and loyalties lie. Mahathir has been repeating the same ‘RM42 billion of 1MDB’s money has disappeared into thin air’ mantra for almost two years and no one complains about that. Why is that?
For 50 years some of you have been going to the mosque and you still hear the same sermon from the imam. But you still go to the mosque every Friday even though you sleep through the sermon. For 50 years some of you have been going to church to listen to the same boring sermon from the priest. But every Sunday you still keep going and will continue to do so until the day you die.
Yes, you keep going every Friday or every Sunday to hear the same stories over and over again because Malaysians mudah lupa. In fact, one hour after leaving the mosque or church you already lupa. So next week you go again to be reminded.
Russia said the world has a memory of only 100 days. This was in response to the questions regarding Korean Airlines 007, which Russia shot down. Russia refused to answer any questions regarding KAL007 and replied that in 100 days the world will forget the whole episode.
So you will forget, trust me. So even 22 years after the RM30 billion Forex losses or 29 years afterOperasi Lalang or 31 years the Memali massacre we still need to keep talking about it. If not you will forget. And, more importantly, you will forget that it was Mahathir (and with the help of Anwar Ibrahim, to a certain extent) who is the culprit behind all these transgressions and evil deeds.
Then there are some people who say: why talk about the past? They say the past is not important. What is important is today. Today, Najib Tun Razak is the Prime Minister and not Mahathir. So let us just talk about Najib and not talk about Mahathir.
That is just like telling Sabah and Sarawak to stop talking about the 1963 Merdeka Agreement. In 1963 Tunku Abdul Rahman was the Prime Minister, not Najib. So the 1963 Merdeka Agreement has nothing to do with Najib.
The same goes for May 13, which also happened during the Tunku’s premiership in 1969. Why talk about it? Najib was still in school at that time so May 13 has nothing to do with him. And the same goes for the New Economic Policy (NEP), which was implemented by Tun Razak Hussein in 1970 and extended by Mahathir in 1990. All that has nothing to do with Najib so you people just have to live with the NEP until the rest of your life.
Yes, if that is the attitude we take then everything becomes very easy. We do not talk about it because it was done by somebody else and has nothing to do with us. So, why is Hindraf still talking about the Indians who came to Malaya in 1850 and are already dead and buried and why are the Chinese still talking about the Batang Kali massacre of 1948 (a.k.a. Britain’s My Lai)?
The long and short of it is you only want to talk about what suits you and you want to avoid talking about what is not beneficial to you. And that makes you all a bunch of hypocrites.
So, today Mahathir said he has buried the hatchet with Anwar? Buried it where, in Anwar’s skull? What did Anwar do to Mahathir that the old man needs to forgive and forget what happened?
I thought it was the other way around — it was Anwar and not Mahathir who was detained under ISA, beaten up half-dead, and then sent to jail on sodomy charges, which Anwar’s supporters say are fabricated charges. Even the federal court said on 2nd September 2004 that Abdul Gani Patail failed to prove Anwar’s guilt.
So what is Mahathir going to say after this, that he has now buried the hatchet with Najib and has forgiven and forgotten the attempt to oust Najib and replace him with Mukhriz? Since when does the rapist forgive and forget what he did to the rape victim? This may sound very racist but the Malays have a saying for this: jangan cakap Tamil dengan aku (or, as the English say, stop talking Double-Dutch).
The 5th September 2016 delegation for Mahathir to make peace with Anwar and ‘bury the hatchet’ to save PPBM
The bottom line is Mahathir is scraping the bottom of the barrel to find a way out of his predicament. Pakatan Harapan will not accept Muhyiddin Yassin as the opposition choice of Prime Minister. They still insist on Anwar. So Mahathir has to kowtow to Anwar.
Have you heard Anwar endorse Muhyiddin, Mahathir’s candidate for Prime Minister? That’s right. Anwar has said nothing. He is maintaining an elegant silence. So that is as good as telling Mahathir to go to hell.
So, just two weeks after announcing Muhyiddin as his candidate for Prime Minister, Mahathir turns round and says it is too early to announce who should be Prime Minister. Then he says he has buried the hatchet with Anwar. That is his way of saying he and PPBM are prepared to accept Anwar as Prime Minister.
But PPBM was set up specifically to ensure that Mahathir’s choice of candidate becomes Prime Minister, whether it is Muhyiddin and Mukhriz as Deputy Prime Minister, or Mukhriz straight away takes the premiership. If all this while PPBM wanted Anwar as Prime Minister then why form PPBM? Why not they all just join PKR? Would that not be cleaner and simpler?
Actually this thing about burying the hatchet with Anwar and no need at the moment to mention who should be Prime Minister and so on are backtracking moves. After pedalling in the wrong direction Mahathir is not trying to back-paddle.
Mahathir actually did not think PPBM was going to get registered, or even if it did it would not be so fast. Mahathir was just threatening or sabre-rattling. In blackmail it is the threat that is effective. Once you actually do it then the element of threat had been removed and it is no longer of any value.
Najib knew this so he made sure that PPBM not only got registered but also got registered fast. So now it is no longer a threat to start a new party to fight Umno. The party has already been registered. It is real.
But then Mahathir was not ready. So he now has a new party but nothing to fill it with. They do not have any members or credible leaders to lead the party. Muhyiddin is tainted and damaged goods while Mukhriz has proved to be a lame duck. Mukhriz could not lead if his life depended on it.
The trouble is Mahathir counted his chickens before they hatched. Now all the eggs have been smashed. But Mahathir cannot admit defeat or close down the party. He has to be seen as still going forward even if he is moving backward or, at best, moving sideways.
When Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah first launched his Semangat 46 he did not rush forward and claim leadership of the opposition. He did not even propose a new opposition coalition to rival Barisan Nasional. He first entered into three separate electoral pacts with PAS, DAP and PBS. He tested the relationship first and when he saw it could not really go places he closed down Semangat 46 and rejoined Umno.
And he only announced his moves close to the 1990 general election. He did all his homework and worked the ground first and avoided a premature birth.
The same thing when Anwar launched PKN (now PKR) on 4th April 1999. It was not until November during the run-up to the 1999 general election that Barisan Alternatif was announced, a new opposition collation to rival Barisan Nasional.
In other words, Anwar allowed the baby to conceive before delivering it in its proper time, just like Tengku Razaleigh did nine years earlier. Mahathir, however, did not wait. As soon as the pregnancy was announced he ripped in there and tore out the baby, resulting in a stillborn baby in still foetus stage. The PPBM registration certificate is as good as a death certificate for a premature stillborn baby.
So Mahathir is carrying a dead baby all over the place. But he cannot tell people this. He cannot admit that PPBM is premature and stillborn. That would make him look both stupid and amateurish.
So Mahathir has to pretend that he and PPBM are still a force to be reckoned with. But PPBM might not even have a coalition to talk about unless it agrees to play second fiddle to PKR and DAP. In short, PPBM would be in the same third class level as PAN. And that is not what Mahathir had in mind. He wanted PPBM to lead Pakatan Harapan and to call the shots.
Mahathir may have to look for a face-saving move. One way would be to embrace Anwar as the candidate for Prime Minister. But that means he would have to dump Muhyiddin, who is already dead meat anyway, and rethink his plans for Mukhriz. Then he has to not only bury the hatchet with Anwar but, more importantly, Anwar has to announce that he, too, has buried the hatchet — which Anwar has not announced yet.
Mahathir now wishes he had not started on this PPBM route. He never expected Najib to not only allow PPBM to be registered but registered in record time as well. Now Mahathir is left holding a baby that is not breathing yet and needs to be in an incubator. But the good doctor knows that not even the incubator is going to breath life into PPBM.
The sensible thing to do would be to announce that PPBM has agreed to merge with PKR (just like PKN and PRM did 14 years ago in 2002). And, because of that, PPBM can be closed down and everyone just joins PKR. Mahathir could present this as a brilliant move, a move forward rather than a move backward.
Everyone will clap, cheer and celebrate and, yet again, Malaysians will be taken for a ride. Well, I do not know whether Mahathir will do that but I do not know what else he can do. And if I were him that is what I would do since my party is not able to attract the one million members and half the Umno leaders andwakil rakyat as I originally thought it would.
Yes, PPBM was supposed to replace Umno just like PAN was supposed to replace PAS. But both PPBM and PAN combined cannot even replace Semangat 46, which even Tengku Razaleigh thought was going nowhere (which was why he closed the party down).
Mahathir thought he is like Moses leading his people out of bondage into the Promised Land. Even Moses wandered in the desert for 40 years and died before reaching the Promised Land. Anwar had been wandering for 17 years and is still nowhere near the Promised Land while Tengku Razaleigh wandered for seven years and then gave up and went home to Umno.
Yes, that most elusive Promised Land. Mahathir knows the Promised Land is still through Umno and that is where he has to return if he wants back power. So do not be surprised if closer to the next general election something unexpected and surprising happens. What you are going to see is not what you see today. Mahathir may be a fool but he is not stupid. And maybe then I can write another ‘I told you so’ article.