Is it game over for Dr Mahathir?

K. Kabilan

It has been a roller-coaster of a ride this past week for Dr Mahathir Mohamad. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, February 29, 2020.

IT has been a roller-coaster of a ride this past week for Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Seven days ago, close to midnight on Friday, the second-time prime minister triumphantly addressed the media saying that his Pakatan Harapan partners had full faith and trust in him to pass the baton to Anwar Ibrahim any time after the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November.

“There were two opinions, but in the end, it was left to me. They will follow what I say, and I said the transition will take place after the Apec summit.

“No time, no date, no nothing (is set). It has been left to me, whether to let go or not. That is the trust given to me by the party,” the 94-year-old said then.

Seated next to him, Anwar said he had suggested at the meeting that Dr Mahathir be allowed to continue to govern and to decide on the right time to resign.

It appeared as though the succession plan had been settled once and for all, and set to take place after the Apec summit in November.

But then, unbeknown to many, there was serious power play in the shadows, including at the very PH presidential council meeting which Dr Mahathir had appeared victorious.

Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin has been painted as the man who has delivered the blow to Dr Mahathir’s plans.

In the week that followed the meeting, events unfolded that saw Dr Mahathir resigning as the prime minister, being reappointed as the interim prime minister, and then making a plea to be allowed to form a new government which will be non-partisan – a new concept for Malaysians used to partisan politics.

To make it worse, the party he founded, Bersatu, seemed to have strayed from his ideology, dumping him in favour of Muhyiddin as the prime ministerial candidate yesterday.

In a week, he went from being numero uno in Pakatan Harapan to a man with no backing from his own party.

In between, there was also the matter of the PH government collapsing after Muhyiddin pulled Bersatu out of the ruling pact on the same day Dr Mahathir resigned.

Dr Mahathir resigned as Bersatu chairman shortly afterwards, giving further indication that he had lost his hold on the party.

He did, however, come back as the chairman after being persuaded by party leaders, but it was obvious that by then, the situation had changed.

From his earlier stand of wanting to become the PM candidate, and of not wanting to work with Umno, on Thursday he spoke about Muhyiddin also wanting to be PM candidate. He also said Muhyiddin was open to the idea of bringing in Umno, en bloc, as an ally.

Yesterday, a week after the political crisis began, far from being in a position of strength, Dr Mahathir was now out of the race altogether.

Reports said he had walked out of the Bersatu meeting where Muhyiddin had been named as the prime ministerial nominee.

PH, meanwhile, has distanced itself from him, unsure of how to deal with the man who delivered GE14 to them, breaking 60 years of one party rule in Malaysia.

So what we have now are two former deputy prime ministers vying to become the prime minister.

In one corner stands Muhyiddin, who appears to have the backing of Bersatu, Gabungan Parti Sarawak, Parti Warisan Sabah, PAS, and Barisan Nasional, of which Umno is the largest bloc.

In the other corner is Anwar Ibrahim, who heads the Pakatan Harapan pact of PKR, DAP and Amanah.

Dr Mahathir is still Bersatu chairman.

Muhyiddin, if he wins the race, may allow Dr Mahathir to exit with dignity, by making him a minister mentor. This will also keep the wily old statesman close, perhaps so that he does not meddle and scheme against the government and the prime minister.

After all, he has been known to have done that before – working against prime ministers before him, and the two which came after him. He had also swiftly and cunningly removed his deputies when it suited him.

In his political career that has spanned more than 60 years, Dr Mahathir has always escaped from a tight spot.

He has been prime minister twice, formed two political parties, found ways to work with his rivals and the opposition, and he had given hope to many Malaysians when he took on a kleptocratic government in 2018.

That run seems to have come to an end now. – February 29, 2020.

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  • The nation held ransom by power greedy individual/s. We will be left behind in the years & decades ahead as other 3rd world nations - including our neighbours take advantage and progress with their citizenry.

    Posted 4 years ago by JD Lovrenciear · Reply

  • It is CANCEROUS to let Muhiyuddin to lead the Government because another kleptocracy will eat away and loot the entire wealth of our country. MPs MUST Realize this and go for the right decision today. Remember the 10 TRAITORS are in Bersatu and there is no guarantee that they will not revolt again to grab the power.

    Posted 4 years ago by Swaminaidu Venkatasamy · Reply

  • Never let the Alibaba (UMNO) stage a comeback and repeat the kleptocratic era. It will be disastrous for Malaysia.

    Posted 4 years ago by Tanahair Ku · Reply

  • Was Muhiyuddin the Trogen Horse UMNO sent to Mahathir to form Bersatu? Were all those who left UMNO to support Bersatu the foot soldiers for the T.H? The story is really getting very interesting but the joke is on us the voters, who believed these politicians. Only divine intervention can save Malaysia.

    Posted 4 years ago by Citizen Pencen · Reply

  • Muhidin is WRONG CHOICE for PM Post Anything coming from Mahathir is NOT SINCERE NOT HONEST NO DIGNITY WORST IS CORRUPT TO THE CORE. Malaysians shld AVOID Mahthir Choice as PM.

    Posted 4 years ago by Lucky Boy · Reply

  • Whoever mahthir recomend is going to RUIN MALAYSIA further.

    Posted 4 years ago by Lucky Boy · Reply