Sinking into the sea of despair?

pic by BERNAMA

THERE are several ways of looking at how things had panned out last week which led to the ascension of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture) as the eighth prime minister (PM).

Apart from realising the once-a-pipe dream of Muhyiddin’s supporters, it also fulfilled the hopes of those wanting a majority or an all-Malay government.

It also ensured Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad took an extended course on lessons voters from Tanjung Piai wanted to teach him and more.

In fact, the non-Malays, especially those from Tanjung Piai, should be extremely happy today as the new government is a reflection of an amplified wish of theirs as expressed in the by-election outcome.

Of course, they can argue the by-election was merely an expression of discontent channelled through a constituency which result had no bearings on the national political equation.

Then again, lest they forget, the by-election, held less than three months ago, was used by all political parties as the benchmark and barometer on the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government and on Dr Mahathir as the PM.

The results were lapped upon gleefully by PH’s regular suspects who are anti-Dr Mahathir, while those who had been wondering when would be timely to join the fray or waiting to build enough courage to do so, had come out of the woodworks then.

Dr Mahathir, whom they seem to loath, had resigned and is no more the PM. Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), which some of them had trivialised, is no more in PH.

Consequently, PH is also no more the government.

Whether they regretted it or otherwise is of no consequence and in fact, has become a moot point.

But if they had been able to look beyond their nose and extended their thought process beyond their brains to their mouths, they would probably wish they could reverse Tanjung Piai.

Why is Tanjung Piai central in the present national narrative?

If prior to that, the Semenyih and Cameron Highlands were taken as merely expressions of discontents towards the ruling coalition, Tanjung Piai is somewhat taken as an affirmation to what the political opinions were pointing to.

For one, it was risky for PH to stick with Dr Mahathir and the Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s forces saw it as an opportunity to push the envelope, and from then on, demands for Dr Mahathir to step down by May this year became amplified and threats and ultimatums were issued without any regards of the coalition’s wellbeing.

They were of course joined by the crass and crude DAP middle and down liners, and without much attempts from its top leadership to curtail them, which then gave credence to opinions that they were tacitly blessed.

The thumping victory in the by-election was used by the fledgling Muafakat Nasional to stake their claim as a nationally accepted player as they argued that despite its Malay-centric nature, the non-Malays were all for it. The Kimanis by-election in January was an icing to the narrative.

Simplistic no doubt, but politically good enough to sell to the less sophisticated and in turning it into a national narrative. And it was enough for some in Beratu to start believing that Muafakat Nasional was the way to go.

And that is exactly what the nation has today — Muafakat Nasional plus Bersatu and rebranded as Perikatan Nasional (PN).

Now with the change in the federal leadership — with the exception of Anwar’s supporters who have to contend that him being the PM-in-waiting may end up a near permanent vocation — most should be happy, and Muhyiddin and PN should be enjoying their honeymoon.

Yet, the way the states that used to be held by Bersatu had been squandered to Umno and Melaka, said to have been promised to Bersatu is seeing the party side-lined, some from Bersatu are wondering what was the actual deal struck between them.

It goes back to Dr Mahathir’s opposition to the collaboration. To Dr Mahathir, working with Umno en bloc is as good as handing back the government to Umno which had the biggest number of seats.

Further to that, joining the PN under the current form is unhealthy given the racial mix of the nation. And as a matter of principle, it was unacceptable to work with the kleptocrats whom both he and Muhyiddin had worked hard to displace.

True to what Dr Mahathir had anticipated, the kleptocrats and Umno are now flexing their muscles. When they entered the bargain, they had nothing to lose.

They were outside and any chance to the power would only be possible by working with someone or a group from within the PH.

It entered the collaboration seemingly prepared to let Bersatu and the others to dictate the direction, knowing fully well, given their bloc, if their demands were not met, their pullout will result in the fall of the government.

That is not something they may fret over as it was never their government in the first place.

The only thing they may have overlooked in the political manipulation and power play is that much as Umno, PAS and half of Bersatu had achieved a Malay-dominated government, they had not contributed much to the Malay image or persona. They will remain a backdoor government.

Unlike in the last election when Muhyiddin flanked Dr Mahathir to victory, they represented a Malay struggle to put a stop to a scandalous, greedy administration.

This time around, Muhyiddin achieved the moment, but not the future.

And he’s cosying with those who had turned power into a creed.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.