A series of non events

Graphic by DAYANG NORAZHAR

TWO political moves, at any other time would have been deemed to be major events, occurred in less than 12 hours this week.

The first was the naming of Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob as deputy prime minister (DPM), a post that has been left vacant since the backdoor government took over some 16 months ago.

The second, in the wee hours of yesterday, was the announcement by Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of Umno Supreme Council’s decision to withdraw support for PM Tan Sri Mahiaddin Md Yassin.

The first event was intended to make the government, the second to break it. But as things panned out, both seemed to negate each other.

The appointment of Ismail Sabri to the coveted post is viewed as an attempt by Mahiaddin to appease growing resentment towards him from one faction of Umno. But the announcement from Ahmad Zahid seemed to have come from another part of Umno.

Neither of these moves, apart from feeding their political intentions, served any purpose to a citizenry that is being choked out of their existence.

Take the appointment of Ismail Sabri. What can he do better than what he had done as a senior minister? Is Mahiaddin telling Malaysians that Ismail Sabri will now develop a higher level of management skills or that his intellect and IQ will shoot up much to the benefit of the nation?

He is, after all, part of the bungling political circus that Mahiaddin had led for more than the better half of the 16 months of existence.

Enter Ahmad Zahid, as beleaguered a leader as Mahiaddin, pointing loaded guns at the PM, declaring the immediate withdrawal of Umno’s support for the latter.

In effect, it should spell the end of Mahiaddin’s uneventful premiership as Umno’s block of MPs makes up more than a quarter of his questionable majority.

But Mahiaddin seemed determined to stay on and the Attorney General (AG) extended an anchor to this by stating that there was no clear indication that Mahiaddin and his Cabinet had lost the majority despite Ahmad Zahid’s statement.

It is a contradiction that Umno’s withdrawal of its support as announced by Ahmad Zahid is deemed insufficient to draw any conclusions with regards to the Mahiaddin’s majority when his ascension and his majority was assumed based on block support extended through the respective party leaders.

As such, until and unless Ahmad Zahid and Umno MPs come out to personally declare the numbers of who had withdrawn their support for Mahiaddin, the PM can be expected to dig his heels in.

Of course, some would lament that Mahiaddin had not observed the convention set by the previous PMs who had preceded him from the very beginning of Malayan and Malaysian nationhood.

In fact, even before independence was attained, Umno’s first president Datuk Onn Jaafar resigned when his idea was rejected by the party.

Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first PM, handed over to Tun Abdul Razak Hussein first the chairmanship of the National Operations Council, which later paved the way for his resignation.

Tun Hussein Onn resigned when he felt his health was detrimental to him performing his duties. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, during his first call of duty, resigned because he felt he had been at the helm for too long and during the second round, did so after he believed that he had lost the majority.

Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi could have stayed on after the 2008 general election as the Barisan Nasional (BN) he led won the polls albeit BN lost its two-thirds majority. But for the disastrous performance under his watch, Abdullah resigned and he did so despite some from his inner circle urging him to stay on.

If he had stayed on, he had the legitimacy but Abdullah, for all his faults, stuck to the convention of his predecessors and stepped down so as not to overstay his welcome.

Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak was a different ball game altogether despite public outbursts and criticisms of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s scandal, among others, and chose to stay on to fight at the polls.

Obviously, he had chosen to stay on because he chose to believe that despite all the condemnations, he still commanded popular support. Sycophantic media, a self-serving inner circle and even pollsters went out of their way to convince, first Najib and then the populace, that he commanded popular support and could even regain the two-thirds lost in the previous two polls.

The results proved otherwise and Najib conceded and today faces dozens of corruption-related cases in the courts of law.

Mahiaddin and his government had proven to be dysfunctional. His majority had been disputed from the very word go. Umno’s latest stunt adds to his woes regardless whether the Umno MPs openly declare or otherwise.

The Parliament is not going to resolve the leadership issue and since Mahiaddin has shown he will hang on to power for as long as he could, the convening of the Parliament will not change anything. It will be business as usual for Mahiaddin and the rest of his Cabinet and with the Opposition as engrossed in political power, Mahiaddin’s stay may be further prolonged.

Some Opposition leaders who now saw the state of flux the nation is in, with no clear indication of a political solution, found some wisdom within and suggested the formation of a unity government.

Ironically, that very wisdom proposed 16 months ago was roundly rejected by the very Opposition leaders proposing it today.

Another proposal, that a National Recovery Council be set up with members mainly made up of professionals, technocrats, specialists and economists, was rejected by the Opposition leaders as to them the reconvening of the Parliament would be the solution.

The way things have unfurled, it is not likely to be so. Maybe, they’ll only see the wisdom of the council 16 months later. In the meantime, the weak PM and his questionable majority gives rise to new parasites and leeches, besides the senior ones.

And blood has yet to dry up. Of more import, it’s not theirs, neither their kith nor kin.


Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.