Pribumi is potentially a political Titanic

 |Oct 20, 2016
Observers predicted that Mahathir's Pribumi would soon sink like the Titanic.
Observers predicted that Mahathir’s Pribumi would soon sink like the Titanic.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is also finance minister, will table the Budget 2017 in Parliament on Friday, Oct 22, 2016.

Mahathir Mohamad already posted a commentary on Wednesday regarding this budget in his blog.

After reading Mahathir’s commentary, I can only sum it up by saying that much of it is his personal opinion or views.

He did not really attach any historical data or back his assumptions and predictions with hard facts.

I mean, China’s navy could sink a Philippines ship in the South China Sea next week and Vietnam and Malaysia could be dragged into the skirmish and everything Mahathir says could fly out the window.

In 1950, America and China fought a proxy war in Korea and suddenly Malaysia’s economy shot up.

I am sure when they created the Federation of Malaya just two years before that in 1948 they never predicted that.

So you see, at the end of the day, as religious people would say, only God knows. The saying goes: Man proposes but God disposes.

The way I read Mahathir’s posting yesterday, he was toning down a bit and no longer talks about things such as Najib stole RM42 billion of 1MDB’s money and therefore should step down as Prime Minister and so on.

Mahathir is now more ‘focused’ on Najib’s ability as the finance minister.

Mahathir talks about borrowings and spending and prudent fiscal policies and the affects of the government’s policy on the people, etc.

In other words, what Mahathir is saying, without really popping the question is: is Najib a good finance minister or is Budget 2017 flawed and could be improved?

Now, we must take what Mahathir posted yesterday alongside what he said last month in the UK together with what he has been saying for the last eight years since April 2008, three weeks after the March 8, 2008 general election.

What he has been saying is that the prime minister needs a council of advisors to ‘guide’ him and that the prime minister should not also be the finance minister.

Many people normally focus just on the brush-strokes.

You should take a few steps back and look at the entire tapestry.

If you do then you will see the big picture or the bigger picture.

That big picture is Mahathir still wants a say in how the country is run and he also wants direct control over Malaysia’s finances.

Mahathir did explain back in 2014 why he wants Najib ousted.

Mahathir said he tried to talk to Najib and advice him but the prime minister would not listen.

The prime minister just ignored him and, when Mahathir kept pestering, Prime Minister Najib refused to talk to the old man for six months and did not want to take his calls.

That was what Mahathir said.

He tried to advice Najib. Najib refused to listen.

After that Najib ignored him for six months and refused to even take the old man’s calls.

So that was why, Mahathir explained, he has no choice but to oust Najib.

So there you have it.

That was the reason, according to Mahathir, why Najib needs to be ousted.

So that means if Najib had not ignored Mahathir and had not putus silaturahim and had listened to advice then there is no reason to oust Najib.

So, for almost two years, that was what Mahathir tried: tried to oust Najib.

But attempt after attempt failed and Najib just got stronger

“What does not kill you makes you stronger,” says Kelly Clarkson.

So now, taking into consideration what Kelly Clarkson said, Mahathir has given up trying to oust or kill Najib.

The English have a wise saying: if you cannot beat them, then join them.
That is what Mahathir wants to do: try to join Najib.

But, of course, it must be on a win-win basis, as they say in the US.

So what would that win-win situation be?

Mahathir’s blog posting yesterday was yet another of the many signals the old man is sending Najib.

Mahathir’s latest signal is: he is prepared to call a truce and call off the ‘get-rid-of-Najib campaign’ in return for some ground.

In wars it’s all about gaining ground even if lives need to be sacrificed.

That ‘ground’ would be to make Mukhriz the new finance minister.

Once Mukhriz becomes finance minister, Mahathir will make sure that Malaysia has the money it needs.

Mahathir’s main worry is that Najib is so strong now that he might not wait till 2018 to call for the next general election.

Mahathir has told his people he suspects Najib may call for the next general election in early 2017, maybe even in March or April, which is just about six months away.

Mahathir said that Budget 2017 is an ‘election budget’, which is why it is so generous to the people.

Budget 2017 will help Najib win more votes, Mahathir grumbled.

So that can only mean the next general election is going to be in the first half of 2017.

That means Mahathir does not have too much time left.

Mahathir believes he needs to make his deal with Najib within the next six months before the next general election.

If Mahathir can really bring in money once his son becomes finance minister then that is quite an incentive to Najib.

Added to that would be the fact that Mahathir will no longer plot Najib’s ouster and will allow him to remain as prime minister.

Don’t forget, 1MDB will no longer be Najib’s problem.

Mukhriz will take over that ‘problem’ from Najib and will do what needs to be done.

So that would be icing on the cake to make the sweet deal even sweeter.
For sure Mahathir will stop attacking 1MDB since his son is now handling the matter.

While Najib is pondering on Mahathir’s sweeter than sweet offer, there are other considerations as well.

First is that Mahathir’s Pribumi is a stillborn party.

Muhyiddin Yassin is now a huge liability and Malays would not want to touch him with a ten-foot pole.

His sex scandal with a married woman and the divorce following that, plus the talk that he has married Nika Gee (none of which has been denied), has destroyed Muhyiddin’s political career for good.

Pribumi cannot even get 10,000 members, which is far short of Amanah, which has about 20,000 members.

Amanah’s 20,000 members is already bad because they were targeting for 250,000 members based on the fact they won 20% of the votes at the PAS party elections (and 20% of 1.2 million would be about 250,000).

So both Pribumi and Amanah are miserable failures.

Initially, Lim Kit Siang was excited about working with Mahathir because the old man promised to save Lim Guan Eng from the clutches of MACC.

Mahathir told Kit Siang he has control over MACC and can tell Abu Kassim Mohamed what to do.

But that did not happen and it now looks like Guan Eng is going to end up in jail after all.

The incentive for Kit Siang to work with Mahathir is now gone.

Further to that, Kit Siang now realises that if DAP works with Mahathir and/or his Pribumi, then the Chinese are going to punish them like they did in the Sarawak state election and the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections (and in the 1999 general election as well).

The Chinese can be very unforgiving (they have still not forgotten or forgiven ‘May 13’, which happened back in 1969).

Without the ‘Save Guan Eng’ deal, there is no attraction for Kit Siang to work with Mahathir.

In fact, they have nothing to gain and everything to lose if DAP works with Mahathir or Pribumi and they end up losing Chinese support.

So Pakatan Harapan’s doors are practically closed to Mahathir and his Pribumi unless they get in through the backdoor by merging Pribumi and PKR.

Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali is open to a Pribumi-PKR Merger.

But then they still have to deal with Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Nurul Izzah (plus many other anti-Mahathir leaders in PKR, some in Anwar’s inner circle included).

So a Pribumi-PKR merger is not going to be plain-sailing.

It is going to be a rocky road they will have to travel.

If the next general election is in early 2017, as what Mahathir suspects, then time is not on their side.

Even the PKN-PRM merger in August 2003 took a long time to happen in spite of Anwar, Wan Azizah, and many of the top PKR leaders and those in Anwar’s inner circle supporting it.

In fact, the PKN-PRM merger created such a crisis that many of Anwar’s inner circle — comrades from his university and ABIM days — condemned the party and resigned in anger.

One chap, Omar Jaafar, an Anwar loyalist since their university days, called for a press conference and condemned the PKR (then PKN) leaders as munafiq (hypocrites).

So, even though they are seriously considering a Pribumi-PKR merger, it will take a long time even if it is going to happen.

I would not give it even 50:50 odds that it can happen (unless Azmin can take over from Wan Azizah as PKR’s President).

Without a backdoor entry into Pakatan Harapan, and with Kit Siang now cold towards Mahathir, they have to consider an entirely new route.

Even if Pribumi is accepted into Pakatan Harapan there was no guarantee that Mukhriz can become the next finance minister, let alone a future prime minister.

For Pakatan Harapan to win the next general election is a long shot.

With just six months to go (at least that is what Mahathir believes) one cannot afford long shots.

One needs sure things.

The one sure thing is you gain federal power only through Umno and Barisan Nasional.

So, if Mukhriz wants to become the next finance minister, it has to be through Umno.

Mukhriz must be allowed back into Umno and must be given a Parliament seat to contest in the next general election.

After the next general election (assuming Mukhriz wins that seat, which is going to be a four-corner contest at least) he is then made the new finance minister.

The post of finance minister is the second-most-powerful position after prime minister — even more powerful than deputy prime minister, which Mahathir already admitted as far back as 1975.

Yes, 41 years ago Mahathir already told his people that the post of deputy prime minister is of ‘no value’ and it is better to be the finance minister than the deputy prime minister.

In fact, when Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah became a threat in 1984, Mahathir removed him as finance minister and ‘demoted’ him to trade and industry minister.

Mahathir knew that if he allowed Tengku Razaleigh to remain as the finance minister that would make him very powerful.

After removing Tengku Razaleigh, Mahathir appointed Daim Zainuddin as the new finance minister.

Before that not many had even heard of Daim so it became a very controversial issue.

The reporters asked Mahathir during a press conference why he appointed Daim as finance minister. Mahathir replied that Daim was his closest and most trusted ally and why would he want to appoint an enemy rather than a trusted friend as his finance minister?

So there you have it. Mahathir knows what he is doing in spite of yesterday Nazri Aziz calling him a senile old man (orang tua nyanyuk).

Since 1975, Mahathir knew where the real power after the prime minister lies — and he told his people so.

In 1984, he made changes that would ensure no one can oust him and he can remain in power for 22 years.

So, if Mahathir wants to save boboi, there is only one way that is going to happen. Mukhriz has to be made the next finance minister.

That is what Mahathir’s blog posting was all about.

Mahathir was telling Najib that he, Mahathir, knows how to manage Malaysia’s economy and finances, and if Najib lets his son take over as finance minister then he, Mahathir, will make sure that Malaysia will have the money it needs to pay for Budget 2017.

Najib has to now weigh between political gain and economic gain.

If he agrees to make Mukhriz the next finance minister there are certain advantages.

But if he just ignores Mahathir there are also advantages.

If Pakatan Harapan takes Pribumi then DAP will suffer a backlash from the Chinese voters.

As an independent party, Pribumi cannot go anywhere.

Mahathir and his Pribumi are going to drift aimlessly and then get smashed on the rocks during a storm.

Najib has plenty of time on his hands while Mahathir does not … Read More.

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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.