Can you really see the Japanese fan lady as our PM?
By Dr Kamarul Zaman Yusoff
The issue of who should be Malaysia’s prime minister is a tangled knot for the loose alliance that is PPBM and PKR-DAP-PAN.
PPBM chairman Tun Mahathir Mohamad stated in his speech at the University of London on 21 Sept 2016 that should his PPBM-Pakatan coalition win the next general election, their prime minister-designate would be PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin.
Then, after coming under fire for his presumption, he backpedaled by saying whoever becomes the Perdana Menteri Harapan need not be announced prematurely for fear of upsetting the apple cart.
In actuality, the 13 Dec 2016 agreement of cooperation between Pakatan and PPBM did not say anything about who is their choice as paramount leader. It merely records an electoral pact between the opposition parties in time for the next general election (GE14) with the purpose of forming a new government together should they win.
Super sub Jijah (Anwar’s reserve player)
That the strange bedfellows did not have a confirmed PM designate was apparent when PAN deputy president Salahuddin Ayub – at the Pakatan convention on 12 Nov 2016 – urged his comrades to name The Chosen One on the spot.
Much the same uncertainly can be gleaned from PKR deputy president Nurul Izzah Anwar’s tentativeness when she mentioned a month later on Dec 15 that the matter would be determined in a special meeting. Both developments however did not materialize.
The next day (Dec 16) nonetheless, Lim Kit Siang openly declared that PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail would be the Pakatan PM designate for the interim in the event that PPBM-Harapan vanquished BN in GE14. Muhyiddin would temporarily be her deputy.
Maid Marion marionette doing the macarena
Then last week, DAP national organizing secretary Anthony Loke Siew Fook reiterated Lim’s call for Wan Azizah to be made “our first female PM”.
Loke tossed the idea in his parliament speech responding to Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who suggested that Malaysia could have its first woman prime minister by the year 2050.
The steadfast support of DAP for Wan Azizah’s PM candidacy baffles many.
After all, it is a matter of public record that she had stated her intention to retire from politics after resigning her Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat on 31 July 2008 to enable her husband Anwar Ibrahim to return in a by-election. The excuse was that she wished to focus on her family.
But lo and behold, after her husband’s jail sentence by the Court of Appeal on 7 March 2014 – a spanner in the works and motions of the infamous Kajang Move – Wan Azizah was inevitably named Anwar’s stand-in for the Kajang by-election on 23 March 2014.
The manoeuvre originally designed to enable Anwar to take over from Khalid Ibrahim as Selangor Menteri Besar was stymied when it was Azmin Ali who was appointed instead in the September of that year. The attempt by PRK, coupled with the strong support of DAP, to have Wan Azizah replace Khalid as MB had turned out adversely for her.
⇓ So much pusing, kepala pun pening
Failed to make the grade for S’gor MB
Does Wan Azizah possess the calibre to successfully steer the opposition to Putrajaya?
No, as PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang made clear in his 5 Sept 2014 explanation as to why he rejected her claim to the Selangor MB post. Hadi said Wan Azizah was unqualified to fill the position because she was unable to debate and answer questions in parliament and the Selangor state legislative assembly.
Her unsuitability is even more apparent when the contents of an interview with the Selangor Sultan, published in a local newspaper on 11 Dec 2014, are considered.
His Royal Highness was quoted as saying that he is not against a woman becoming the MB of his state but such a woman must be independent-minded — as in the likes of former Bank Negara governor Zeti Aziz and Universiti Malaya pro-chancellor Aishah Ong.
The said professional woman must someone capable of making her own decisions without “being remote controlled” by a puppet master.
GE14 showdown between Umno and DAP
On 10 Feb 2015, the Federal Court upheld Anwar’s jail sentence. Poor Wan Azizah was once more prevailed upon to hold the fort at her husband’s Permatang Pauh constituency.
Anwar’s imprisonment necessitated a parliamentary by-election on 7 April 2015. And so Wan Azizah made a reentry into the lower house as an MP again.
Her subsequent selection as the opposition leader was a foregone conclusion. DAP, which had the most number of seats of any opposition party, would accept only Wan Azizah in the role.
Under closer scrutiny, we can see that the DAP’s overt support for her now as their choice of future PM makes sense.
In his keynote address to the Umno general assembly on 1 Dec 2016, party president Najib told the delegates that GE14 would take the form of a battle royale between Umno and DAP.
A BN government is one led by Umno while a Pakatan government is one led by DAP.
‘Immigrants and their loyalty to country of origin’ — here
Najib repeated the Umno vs DAP motif earlier this month when he remarked on the Pakatan Ali Baba, i.e. a business arrangement constituting a Chinese boss behind the scenes but the company fronted by his Malay sleeping partner.
GE14 voters must thus evaluate whether a ‘Prime Minister Wan Azizah’ will only be functioning like a mere puppet on a string.
Almost immediately, Tun Mahathir had come out against Anthony Loke’s endorsement of Wan Azizah. He remonstrated that deciding on the next prime minister of Malaysia must not be a unilateral pronouncement by the DAP.
According to him, it is not DAP alone among the parties that has the final say on such an important matter.
⇓ Can you see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
DAP’s 180-degree ubah, Tun’s U-turn
This backlash from Tun is perfectly understandable. Indeed, why should he strive so hard to engineer Najib’s downfall only to see ultimate power handed to … Wan Azizah, the wife of his former nemesis. And hidden behind her swishing kimono, yet another skulking ex-arch enemy.
With these deadly foes turned Tun’s newfound friends, a big risk is always looming on the horizon. Much bad blood remains between Tun and his current ‘ubah’ frenemies from DAP and PKR.
Ex-PKR information chief Badrulamin Bahrom, for example, recycled the labels “Maha Firaun” and “Maha Zalim” in his description of Dr Mahathir as recently as 2 April 2016 during the opposition’s anti-GST rally.
Tun M was also much maligned during the ‘Reforming Malaysia’ convention held at month’s end (Feb 25).
⇓ Political animals are dangerous … don’t play-play
Can DAP and ex-Umno truly bury the hatchet?
The plea by Tun for everyone to let bygones by bygones has clearly fallen on deaf ears.
He was therefore reluctantly compelled to plead a case for prioritizing the ouster of Najib – something that requires teamwork – and thereafter permitting his partners in the opposition’s marriage of convenience to settle their old scores with him.
Tun’s new BFF Lim Kit Siang is similarly caught in a bind.
Lim, who throughout his half-century long political career has screamed for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into every conceivable subject under the sun, was recently cornered into conceding that Tun M should be investigated in relation to the 1990s forex scandal.
Knowing Tun M is to know that our ex-premier isn’t stupid, particularly when he is forced to parley with political animals that possess the long memory of an elephant and the vengefulness of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Think about it: Would Tun permit the DAP-led Pakatan to appoint their puppet as PM? Or is it imperative that he nominate his own proxy PM to preside over the PPBM-Harapan project?
Dr Kamarul Zaman Yusoff is a fellow at the Institute of Strategic Islamic Studies Malaysia (Iksim) and director of the Institute for Malaysian Political Analysis (Mapan)