Mahathir’s multiple predicaments

 |Aug 20, 2016
Mahathir simply running out of ideas and time to oust Premier Najib.
Mahathir simply running out of ideas and time to oust Premier Najib.

Yesterday, in the article titled ‘What will Mahathir’s final move be?’, we spoke about how Dr Mahathir Mohamad tried everything he could to bring down Prime Minister Najib Razak. However, while it took less than three years for Mahathir to oust Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, it is now more than three years and still Najib does not seem to be ready to walk out the door.

And this is what irks Mahathir. Najib was supposed to be have been ousted in July 2015 and it is now August 2016 and Najib is still in office. And from the looks of it Najib is still going to be around come 2018 to lead Umno and Barisan Nasional in the next general election and to get re-elected as Umno’s President in the party elections following that — which effectively still makes him the Prime Minister.

Mahathir just can’t figure out why he is not successful in ousting Najib. He tried all sorts of things but nothing seems to have worked so far. Albert Einstein is credited with saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And this is the problem with Mahathir’s so-called strategy. He has only one issue to use against Najib, 1MDB, and even though that has not worked, Mahathir is still hammering away on that single issue — basically doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The problem is people sometimes get conned by their own propaganda. It is like the Nazis repeating over and over again that they are winning the war until in the end they started believing in their own propaganda. By the time reality steps in it is too late. Nasi sudah jadi bubur, as the Malays would say.

Mahathir does not realise that although he has tried so many things but then all those things he tried are still related to just one issue, which is 1MDB. At least when he attacked Abdullah Badawi he played with so many issues. So if the first issue does not hurt Abdullah there is still the second, third, fourth, fifth, etc., issue that can do the trick.

With Najib it is just one issue, just 1MDB, all or nothing, and if 1MDB cannot bring Najib down then that is the end of the road for Mahathir. He has nothing more to use against Najib unless he dumps 1MDB and resorts to a more militant method à la Arab Spring, such as those used in other countries that have proven more successful in bringing down governments.

1MDB, which was supposed to have been the golden bullet that would end Najib’s life, has now turned out to be Mahathir’s albatross around his neck. And it is going to be impossible for Mahathir to erase that because he has gone too deep and too far and there is no longer any turning back. Mahathir has to make the 1MDB issue work and if it does not he cannot pull out a new rabbit from his hat. It is either 1MDB or nothing.

But why focus just on 1MDB? When Mahathir made his move on Abdullah he had so many issues that he used against the Prime Minister. Why can’t Mahathir hedge his bets and use other issues as backup in case the 1MDB issue does not do the trick? Well, that is because Mahathir does not have any other issues to use against Najib. He has only 1MDB. And even then some of what they are saying about 1MDB is fabricated and not true.

For example, Mahathir says RM42-50 billion of 1MDB’s money has disappeared into thin air and that Najib stole it. Now, unless Mahathir can prove that RM42-50 billion of 1MDB’s money has disappeared into thin air and that Najib has stolen it, then that would be the albatross Mahathir carries around his neck.

Mahathir is facing three predicaments. In fact, we have written about some of this in these previous articles:

How Mahathir used Bank Negara to sabotage 1MDB

Mahathir finally met his match in Najib

Mahathir needs to create the perception of winning

How 1MDB was sabotaged

Three days ago, Haris Che Mat revealed that the plan for Mukhriz to become Prime Minister was mooted three years ago in 2013. Basically it was a fast track plan: from nothing to PM. However, Mukhriz first needed to win one of the three Umno vice presidents’ posts because as an outsider it would be impossible for him to become the Deputy Prime Minister let alone the Prime Minister.

When Mukhriz failed to win one of the three Umno vice presidents’ posts they blamed Najib for it. If Najib had instructed his cousin, Hishammuddin Hussein, to stand down then Mukhriz would have won third place instead of fourth. And for committing that sin Najib needed to go.

The only way for Mukhriz to become Prime Minister would be for the Prime Minister to first appoint him the Deputy Prime Minister. And if Najib will not do this then he has to be replaced with a proxy Prime Minister who will do whatever Mahathir wants. Mahathir did, in fact, say that Najib refused to listen to him and that was why, explained Mahathir, he had no choice but to attack the Prime Minister.

On 12th September 2014, Reuters reported:

Malaysian state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) has delayed a more than $3 billion IPO due to a longer-than-expected due-diligence process and negotiations around the restructuring of a 5.5 billion ringgit ($1.7 billion) loan, people familiar with the matter said.

The IPO, which was due to be launched in the fourth quarter of this year, is now likely to take place in the first few months of 2015 at the earliest, said the people, who declined to be named as the matter remained confidential.

Arul Kanda then explained what happened as follows:

“A failed listing exercise for 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) energy assets last year (2014) is the main contributor to the firm’s present financial difficulties. 1MDB had two targeted dates in which to list the assets, which are now held under its power unit Edra Global Energy Bhd.

The first was in November 2013 and another date was set for November last year (2014). In both circumstances, for various reasons including internal and external factors, the initial public offering (IPO) did not happen.

When the IPO failed to materialise, a mismatch arose between the interest charges that needed to be repaid in the short term as well as principal payments, Arul explained. That is my answer as to why 1MDB is facing the difficulty and challenges that we are going through today.”

Najib still the Prime Minister despite Mahathir's constant attacks using a single issue of 1MDB.
Najib still the Prime Minister despite Mahathir’s constant attacks using a single issue of 1MDB.

So that was the first torpedo that Mahathir fired and he used Bank Negara to fire it. Then Mahathir got Bank Negara to block all loans to 1MDB, which added to 1MDB’s problems. With so many torpedoes hitting 1MDB it would be almost impossible for it to survive.

But now all that is already out in the open and everyone knows that 1MDB’s problems were acts of sabotage and that Mahathir was the mastermind behind this sabotage. That is Mahathir’s predicament number one. He can no longer pretend that he knows very little other than what he has been told. Not only does Mahathir know a lot, in fact 1MDB’s problems were actually his doing.

Mahathir’s second predicament is that his son, Mokhzani, might be going to jail for insider trading. Mokhzani’s former business partner, Yeow Kheng Chew, his former personal assistant, Paulene Chee Yuet Fang, and his former remisier, Tan Yee Chee, have all been arrested and charged and are awaiting trial. It is only a matter of time before Mokhzani faces that same fate.

The third predicament is that in the next general election Muhyiddin Yassin is going to lose his Pagoh parliament seat while Mukhriz will lose his Ayer Hitam state seat.

Even if Mukhriz goes back to his old Jerlun parliament seat he is still going to lose.

Certain parties are discussing with DAP the possibility of Muhyiddin contesting in Muar or Gelang Patah and for Mukhriz to contest in PJ Utara or Puchong.

These are considered Chinese majority DAP safe seats. But then this means both Muhyiddin and Mukhriz must ‘lari’ if they want to be safe and this will be a serious loss of credibility for both of them.

Like it or not, Muhyiddin and Mukhriz must defend their seats.

And since Pribumi is a Malay party they must contest Malay seats.

If they run away to Chinese seats that would be a serious slap on Pribumi’s face. What kind of Malay party is Pribumi if its top leaders cannot win in Malay seats and need Chinese votes before they can win?

Mahathir now has only two options left open to him.

He can either bring down Najib like how Tunku Abdul Rahman was brought down, through chaos, or he can bring Najib down the way Abdullah was brought down, though the general election.

After the 1969 chaos Tunku stepped down in 1970 and after the 2008 general election disaster Abdullah stepped down in 2009.

So, if you want Najib ousted now then it must be through chaos because if you wait until the 2018 general election then it will be three years from now or in 2019 before Najib can be asked to step down.

But then you are assuming that the 2018 general election is going to be a disaster.

What if Umno’s and Barisan Nasional’s performance improves like it did in the recent Sarawak state election and the twin by-elections in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar?

Instead of forcing Najib’s resignation he would, in fact, become stronger. And time is certainly not on Mahathir’s side so it has to be a fast track option where Najib can be made to go now.

So hoping that Umno and Barisan Nasional do badly in the 2018 general election so that Najib can be asked to go in 2019 is too much of a long shot and too far into the future.

Something must happen now. And the only way for something to happen now has to be through chaos or some sort of Malaysian Spring. There is really no other alternative and Mahathir knows this.

But then many other people know this as well. If Mahathir waits till 2018-2019 and places his entire strategy on the hope that Umno and Barisan Nasional will suffer in the next general election and that this can be the leverage to oust Najib that would be a pie in the sky.

By then Mokhzani will be in jail and Mukhriz plus Muhyiddin would have lost their seats — unless they run away and take shelter in a DAP Chinese-majority seat. Either way they are dead meat. And Mahathir is also not sure he still has three years.

And this raises a fourth predicament for Mahathir. If chaos does erupt all fingers will point at him. Mahathir can no longer throw stones and hide his hand.

His hands would be dirty as hell and if even just one life is lost then that is the end of Mahathir once and for all. Mahathir’s portrait would no longer hang in the hall of fame but would sit beside Marcos and Suharto in the rogues’ gallery.

And to Mahathir that would be a fate worse than death, something his ego will never be able to accept.

Mahathir is hoping that Bersih 5.0 is going to be that final solution he is looking for.

But that so-called solution, meaning politically engineered bloodshed, is actually a problem rather than the solution.

If Mahathir rides on Bersih 5.0 and is hoping that pilehan jalan raya is better than pilehan raya, Mahathir is going to discover that he is just digging his own grave. In 1969 Mahathir blamed Tunku for the chaos.

This time around Mahathir cannot blame Najib for whatever chaos that erupts.

The blame will rest squarely on Mahathir’s shoulders … Read More

Source: Malaysia Today

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Raja Petra Kamarudin or RPK, cousin to the Selangor Sultan, is one of Malaysia's earliest online 'citizen journalists'. He started his website in 1995 before the internet 'explosion' triggered by the Reformasi movement in September 1998. Malaysia Today was launched as a blog in August 2004 and is one of the few pioneer blogs still active and posting articles on a daily basis 24-7. RPK, 66 years old, has been writing since 1990.