Clutching on to a slipping crown

graphic by MZUKRI

BY NOW, it would have been obvious to most that when top practising political leaders said that politics is the least on their mind, they are actually saying otherwise.

Indeed, the current Covid-19 crisis, which have caused fear among the general populace and the Movement Control Order (MCO) disorienting them further, would be an opportune time for these politicians to announce their disaffection to their raison d’etre to reflect their concern over the plight of the citizenry.

However, their deeds belie their pronouncements.

In fact, if cui bono is considered, the one benefitting most if less or no attention is given to politics and politicking, it is obvious the current sitting coalition, the self-styled Perikatan Nasional (PN), has everything to gain.

It did not gain power through the conventions nor democratic processes observed since independence and despite attempts to whitewash the label of being a backdoor government, Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture) had publicly contended that it was not the government that the people voted in.

Retrospectively, the new government and the PM’s ascension to power had been questioned as to whether it legitimately had the numbers — a fact Pakatan Harapan had strongly disputed until the very day the palace announced Muhyiddin as the eighth PM.

In other words, Muhyiddin and PN are uncomfortably perched on their pedestals and moves to reward MPs with cushy positions in government-linked companies are strongly perceived as efforts to ensure that their support does not sway in the event a vote of no confidence is tabled in Parliament.

Then the refusal of the government to have a two-week parliamentary sitting and insisting on only a short one-day session, despite having eased the MCO, contributed further to suspicions that the government and Muhyiddin are trying to avoid a showdown even at the expense of being accused of being usurpers and undemocratic.

They may have the numbers now since patronage was wantonly exercised. But it is quite fragile since they are dealing with those who could abandon friends and join foes when it benefits them.

If the numbers and loyalty are suspect, it is doubtful even the most reformed of politicians would proclaim and seriously put aside their political interests.

As it is, rumblings are getting louder in Johor where Umno took over the Mentri Besarship from Parti Bersatu Bumiputra Malaysia after PN took over the federal government.

It was earlier observed that Muhyiddin had sacrificed Bersatu’s hold on Johor in return for him to secure the prime ministership.

However, it seems that the state Bersatu leaders and members who had gone along with Muhyiddin’s scheme are now feeling deprived, if not cheated, as the distribution of the spoils of war — or in Arabic ghanimah as some may prefer given the new government’s Malay-Islam choice of persona — are not fairly distributed.

One reaction from a state Umno leader was blunt if not outright arrogant, a trademark which had caused a fair bit of disaffection towards the party in the last general election, in which he reminded the complainants from Bersatu to look at themselves first before making demands and that it is a minority party.

To Bersatu members who chose to stick with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and refuse to join PN, they may feel vindicated and could now turn around and told their party members that it served them right.

To make matters worse, deputy Umno president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan pointed out that Umno never joined PN as it was not a registered political entity and its link is merely an understanding.

Given Mohamad’s contention, then what legitimacy does the current PN government have? If it is only a mere understanding, obviously the entity would not be held responsible for whatever it does and whatever mistakes it makes.

It can then be concluded that the current government is merely a political expediency meant to topple a legitimately elected government to allow for Muhyiddin and those in PN to take up positions and determine the direction of the nation, without having to be responsible for it.

PAS VP Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah too had described PN as an ad hoc arrangement.

Given that Gabungan Parti Sarawak too had stated clearly that it did not join PN though it supported the Muhyiddin-led government, the question is how does one hold PN responsible if it was ad hoc and its members are looking at it somewhat derisively?

And all these are politicking at its worst, even if the pronouncements made attempted to show disdain for political manoeuvrings at a time like this.

Their advocates may want to believe that heavy is the head that wears the crown.

Rather, they should realise how tilted the crown roost.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.