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Thursday, April 30, 2015

The man who would be king

Another faction, supporting Tengku Razaleigh, may yet hijack Mahathir's campaign.
COMMENT
razaleigh_mahathir_najib_muhyiddin_600In 1987, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was within smelling distance of the Prime Minister’s seat, but he was denied it by a mere 43 votes, allowing Dr Mahathir Mohamad to retain his position. The Kelantan prince has all the right credentials, but the chances for him to make it to the top of the mountain have been few and far between.
That is, until now. While all eyes are trained on the clash between Mahathir and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, a third faction has emerged, pushing for Razaleigh to take the reins after Najib is deposed. Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin may be the most likely candidate to succeed Najib should he step down, but to some Malaysians, he is not a desirable option given that he is likely to return to Mahathirist policies. And so Razaleigh represents a more reasonable option for some, Raub MP Ariff Sabri and former law minister Zaid Ibrahim included .
Ariff has even suggested that some BN MPs cross over to the opposition side to force Najib’s resignation and enable the installation in his place of someone who will “uphold the values of democracy, rule of law, good governance” and is “committed to placing the country on grounds of fiscal decency,” among other things. That is an obvious reference to Razaleigh.
The idea is feasible if enough MPs on the BN side don’t want either Najib or Muhyiddin as Prime Minister. The sentiment in BN is rapidly shifting against the sitting PM, and Muhyiddin is such an unknown quantity that it may be hard to muster significant support for him among the grassroots, and even among BN MPs, especially those not from Umno.
Ariff’s suggestion calls for a bi-partisan Prime Minister, and this could be PR’s back road into Putrajaya as it will likely demand several posts in exchange for its support in a no-confidence vote against Najib. Certainly, that is an exciting prospect, and falls in line with Lim Kit Siang’s drive to “Save Malaysia”. This means that should there be enough assurance that Razaleigh will indeed be bi-partisan, he could gain the support of at least Kit Siang.
The emergence of this third faction is interesting indeed given that we only had a binary choice between Muhyiddin (read Mahathir) and Najib previously. Perhaps this third faction was boiling beneath the surface all this time. Remember that Razaleigh’s dramatic speech in Parliament, which shook up the sentiment among those still sitting on the fence, was followed quickly by Kit Siang’s “Save Malaysia” bipartisan campaign.
Before Zaid and Ariff spoke up, it was more or less a foregone conclusion that Mahathir would win the battle. However, the emergence of a third force looking to install the man who once almost became king muddies the waters immensely.
BN MPs are well known for being loyal to the point of stubbornness, so it may take a lot of effort to persuade them to defect.
Nonetheless, with three major players on the table, the winner will be the one who can seize the dreams and aspirations of the people and produce a concrete game plan. A bipartisan PM may still be but a dream, but with effort and planning, we could be seeing a true revolution in Malaysian politics with the installation of Razaleigh.
Interesting times, indeed.

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