So, swung the pendulum

 pic by BERNAMA

WHILE the Biblical phrase of “how the mighty have fallen” may be a good way to describe the current situation, it could be misconstrued as an attempt to exaggerate, bordering on making a mountain out of a molehill.

Yet, what Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture) is experiencing is definitely the swing of the pendulum which took him to one end for a few months since assuming the prime minister’s (PM) post and now, to the other extreme end.

Just about a month ago, Muhyiddin, according to a popular pollster, enjoyed extensive support across the board and more so with the Malays and Muslim Bumiputeras.

Armed with such ratings, Muhyiddin’s lieutenants went to Sabah and attempted to manoeuvre a change in government through the changing of allegiance among assemblymen.

It was thwarted by then Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal who managed to convince the governor that the solution to the political uncertainties was through a snap election — returning the mandate to the people.

Today, the Sabah election is blamed to be a major contributor to the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases and it had spread in the peninsula by politicians participating in the Sabah campaign.

Muhyiddin and his Cabinet members’ flip-flop manner and double standards in dealing with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and application of the regulations pertaining to the pandemic had led to extreme unhappiness and at times, outright disgust among a cross-section of the populace.

Ironically, Muhyiddin’s fame was Covid-19 and his fall from grace is also because of Covid-19, in relation to the way he handled them.

Whether he is aware or not and whether his minders are updating him of the development, the goodwill Muhyiddin had enjoyed since assuming the top post since March seems to be thinning by the minute.

What used to endear him — the self-declaration of being an “Abah” (Malay for dad) of the nation and reciting the doa — is being thrown back at him.

Of course, that does not mean that his fans are all up against him. More likely, the middle ground and detractors are finding culpable reasons to vilify him and they are doing it relentlessly and to them, deservingly.

All these developments, while exposing the vulnerability of Muhyiddin for relying on a single populist issue and the backfiring of the strategy of avoiding the press, while relying on a monologue via his perutusan (address), has perpetuated the uncertainties of his leadership and the sustainability of the government he leads.

Looming in the background is Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, whose earlier claim of having the numbers and widely doubted, is now gaining traction as Muhyiddin falters.

These events created more uncertainties and at a time when the nation grapples with the fear in the spike of Covid-19 cases apart from incredulously watching how the leadership, or rather the lack of it, is handling the situation.

In the midst of all these, enters a call for a ceasefire among all politicians and allow the government to focus on the pandemic, and the economic and social fallouts that entail.

The idea lacked wisdom and timing was definitely off.

On one hand, it comes out as an attempt to provide a lifeline to Muhyiddin, whose legitimacy to stay in office is being questioned on grounds that he had lacked the numbers. And of course, such a suggestion would not go down well with Anwar’s camp who truly believes that their leader has the majority support to form the government.

Now, Anwar had issued a statement that he would be seeing the King to present his numbers and stake his claim to the coveted PM post.

Anwar’s claims, given Muhyiddin’s leadership and partnership in his alliance being in tatters, are becoming to sound more convincing — the use of statutory declarations (SDs) as proof of support is becoming quite stale and unreliable.

It has been proven that those signing the SDs had been known to be able to retract and come out with new SDs, which declared the exact opposite to what they had declared earlier.

In fact, based on past episodes, some even signed two SDs, declaring support for both contending leaders.

In other words, the SDs, though legitimate tools to prove support, have lost their lustre due to the fickleness of the signatories.

In other occasions, an election would be ideal to determine who deserves to lead the nation, but these are difficult times and from what had happened in Sabah, going to the polls is the last thing that the nation should be subjected to.

The next closest to having a poll is to return the mandate to the Parliament — meaning that the august house should be the place to prove whether one still commands the majority or having lost it, and the next candidate to prove that he or she has the numbers to take over.

That shouldn’t be a problem for Muhyiddin or Anwar or any other parliamentarians. If Muhyiddin still has the numbers, he should prove it in Parliament and regain his legitimacy.

If he doesn’t, then he should gracefully exit the stage and let the House decide who should take over, be it Anwar or any other leader.

Anwar, too, should not have a problem with that if he truly has the numbers as he claims. He too should be able to accept the outcome even if it turned out that he doesn’t actually have the numbers, but someone else does.

Once the Parliament decides, of course with the tacit consent of the King, the politicking should end and the focus is fully on tackling the pandemic and reviving the battered economy.

That is the honourable thing to do and such acts require men of honour.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.