The powerful art of grip and cling

pic by BERNAMA

IF IT is still not obvious to most, Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Mahiaddin Md Yassin (picture) has adopted the delaying and buying time tactics as he clings on to his beleaguered position.

It cannot be anything else.

First, take the decree from the King and Malay Rulers who wanted Parliament to be convened as soon as possible, but Mahiaddin and his ilk chose to interpret “soon” to be 40 days later.

Second, even as Parliament will convene next week, the five-day sitting seems only to be about explanation sessions by ministers on measures taken in relation to dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is to the chagrin of most Opposition parliamentarians, who had hoped that the sitting will allow extensive debates on what went wrong or right in the manner the government is handling the pandemic, which by now has escalated to a level that places Malaysia on the top ranks compared to other nations.

With that, the high hopes placed by most Malaysians that the King’s and his brother Rulers’ intervention would provide some solution to the hopelessness they feel, is dashed as the Parliament now being convened would not change any of the status quo.

Simply put, Mahiaddin has managed to ignore the spirit of the Royal decree and is instead observing the decree at face value by merely convening the Parliament.

Mahiaddin will remain the PM. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will remain PM-in-waiting, Pakatan Harapan remains in the Opposition and Perikatan Nasional continues to helm the government.

Party to this obnoxious scheme and scam is Umno, which on one side pretends that it opposes what Mahiaddin had done and not done, but on the other, not really doing anything to bring an end to the failed and incompetent administration.

Party president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his predecessor Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak continue to project themselves as the champions of the people’s cause, declaring Umno’s intention to withdraw support for Mahiaddin, but never really making good any of it.

They are obviously having their cake and eating it.

Even as they form the government, they disassociate themselves from Mahiaddin and the failures of the government, styling themselves as strong critics and persistently showing empathy with the people’s pain and frustration.

In other words, they are very much aware of public sentiments towards Mahiaddin and the government, and to be perceived to be closely allied with them would cause them, and the party, any hope of a good performance in the next general election (GE).

Furthermore, Mahiaddin is from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and in most instances, Umno would be vying for the same constituencies and a weakened Mahiaddin and Bersatu would go a long way for Umno’s cause.

But at the same time, they do not want the party to be out of the government as they are unsure of what holds outside, and they fear being thrown out into the political wilderness like how they experienced after they lost the previous GE.

At this stage, even though they may face court cases and the possibilities of ending up imprisoned, they still at least have other party leaders in the government.

And the Umno leaders with executive positions too are aware that they would have to play ball with the kleptocrats who wield considerable influence in the party. Further to that, given Mahiaddin’s questionable majority and legitimacy, their positions as parliamentarians are great bargaining chips.

With that, these Umno leaders who are not in the government continue to show their contempt for Mahiaddin and his government, siding with the public and championing public opinions against the government, but remain as a pillar that props up both Mahiaddin and the government.

With public anger unabated and simmering towards Mahiaddin and the government, many may overlook that facts and the role played by Umno, Ahmad Zahid and Najib in the whole scheme of things, so much so that there are sentiments among the naive of how Najib, in particular, had proven to be with the people.

Far from it, he and his ilk are the very reason why Mahiaddin and his Cabinet are still standing and they will continue to do so as they weave their ways through whatever means necessary, from the Emergency, blocking votes of no confidence in Parliament and enticing political frogs.

For that matter, PAS is much more honest as they openly support Mahiaddin and took brickbats for it, obviously believing that their supporters are too besotted with their political Islam to reject them in the next GE even if they had failed miserably in their stint in this administration.

They are so politically motivated that whenever they urge everyone else to stop playing politics during these difficult times, it is actually doublespeak.

Now, Mahiaddin decides to adopt an idea from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the setting up of the National Recovery Council (NRC), but also decided that he becomes the chair.

It is unbelievable that having plagiarised the idea, he shamelessly decides to helm. What is it that he could do as the chair of the NRC that he couldn’t do as the PM.

There is a possibility that he develops brilliant ideas and strategies when donning the NRC hat. Then, there’s a possibility too that the PM’s hat had made his thoughts opaque.

  • Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.