A zero-sum game it is not

Economy is reeling, hoping for a much needed confidence booster

graphic by MZUKRI

A FRIEND has been having sleepless nights since the over one week-old political gangrene engulfed the country. Each time an announcement from any political party was made, she would do the maths of who was leading in the race to Putrajaya. Things were so fluid.

For many, the calculator eclipsed Youtube or shopping sites in their connected world. Politicians from both sides of the divide to the ordinary Jack did more number crunching than the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue that defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.

Maths provided an answer but in politics, nothing is absolute. The changes were as fast as the melting snow during summer. The King, however, had decreed.

Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture) was sworn in as the country’s eighth prime minister (PM). He took the oath of office before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, at Istana Negara yesterday morning.

The King appointed Muhyiddin as the new PM in accordance with Articles 40(2)(a) and 43(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution.

To the King, the former deputy PM, in his view, has the majority support of the members of the lower house. The statement from the Istana was released on Saturday.

In a press conference an hour before Muhyiddin’s swearing in ceremony, Dr Mahathir said he had the support of 114 MPs of the 222 lower house and he has the majority. A list of MPs who endorsed him had been circulating in social media the night before.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliance believes they have the numbers. Equally, the Perikatan Nasional — the newly formed alliance consisting of Bersatu, PAS, Umno and others — said they have the majority.

It is a battle of numbers, but with a shifting goal post.

Dr Mahathir, at one point, enjoyed overwhelming support. Even Umno and PAS threw their support behind him. That endorsement dissipated when PH abandoned the 95-year-old after his proposal of a unity government was shot down.

Internal bickering continued. The tide overwhelmingly shifted towards Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and like ants to sugar, the PKR and DAP comrades put forth Anwar as the country’s eighth PM.

Perikatan Nasional — en bloc Umno, PAS, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Bersatu — took the opportunity to endorse Muhyiddin as the PM. In all the delirium, PH had a change of heart and again nominated Dr Mahathir.

Those backings, changes and supports are all but academic now.

Such was the political chaos the country witnessed. Clearly, there are no permanent enemies nor friends in politics, only political casualties.

Muhyiddin is the country’s eighth PM. But the recent events had deeply divided the nation, polarised along racial and religious lines. The urbanites felt cheated, while extreme emotions reigned in social media with vile and vulgar comments.

Malay nationalists and Islamists rejoiced the return of “ketuanan Melayu” and a more Islamic Malaysia, while the economy is reeling, hoping for a much needed confidence booster.

How will the nation move forward from here will be clearer in the coming weeks. If anything, Malaysia is a nation in waiting.

Mohamad Azlan Jaafar is the editor-in-chief of The Malaysian Reserve.