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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A royal twist on Dr M being at the helm

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A political analyst has provided a royal twist to Dr Mahathir Mohamad's appointment as chairperson of Pakatan Harapan.
Apart from securing Malay votes, James Chin claimed the former prime minister would also serve as the conduit between the rulers and Harapan if the opposition coalition wins the next general election.
The University of Tasmania's Asia Institute lecturer said the Harapan leadership is aware that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and BN would not relinquish power easily if defeated in the next general election.
The conventional wisdom, Chin said, is that if BN loses the vote, it would attempt to cling on to power via an emergency rule or through the Conference of Rulers (COR).
“This group is extraordinarily powerful: the King is required for a proclamation of emergency rule and the King swears-in the prime minister.
“Although the COR represents Malay sovereignty, Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy and the sultans are supposed to be above politics. But in practice, they can decide who sits at the top of the political table.
“In recent years, three sultans have intervened publicly to select the menteri besar of their states, going against the wishes of the winning political party. Only the most foolish politicians will ignore the wishes of the Malay sultans,” Chin added in an article published in The Interpreter.
Chin said this was where Mahathir could play a crucial, despite the open dislike of the former prime minister by some of the rulers.
“The sultans know him well. While some openly dislike him, they also know he is part of the Malay establishment and will ensure Malay domination in any new government.
“The other two pillars of the Malay establishment, the civil service and the security forces, will also be much more likely to accept a non-BN government with Mahathir than one without,” he added.
Chin also pointed to the fear towards the predominantly-Chinese DAP among the Malay establishment.
“The Malay establishment have a deep fear of DAP, whom many view as Chinese chauvinists who will destroy 'ketuanan Melayu' (Malay supremacy) and 'ketuanan Islam' (Islam supremacy) should they win government.
“With Mahathir at the helm of Harapan, these fears are minimised,” he added.
Can Anwar Ibrahim perform the role?
The analyst said while certain quarters would argue that Anwar Ibrahim could perform the same role, the Malay establishment, however, viewed the PKR de facto leader with suspicion.
“Many think Anwar is too liberal after more than a decade of working with the non-Malay DAP, and after PKR's rejection of Malay supremacy in favour of Malay leadership.
“The Malay establishment is also worried that, under Anwar, many of the lucrative no-bidding government contracts given to them via Malay 'special rights' will be reduced and they will be forced to compete for the business,” he added.
In this context, Chin said they had nothing to fear from Mahathir since the former prime minister has, on numerous occasions, stated that Malay special rights contracts are still needed to aid Malay businesses.

“Mahathir is an enthusiastic supporter of Malay supremacy and he has done more to cement it into the political system than anyone else,” he added.
In summary, Chin said if the defenders of the Malay establishment are forced to hand over power to someone from outside Umno, should it lose the forthcoming general election, there is no better person than Mahathir.
“For them, Mahathir simply represents an alternative 'ketuanan Melayu' leadership, rather than real political reforms,” he added. -Mkini

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