Whatever Mahathir and his minions do lately have all the trademarks of UMNO – from using ethnic Chinese as the punching bag, calling them communists regardless of their loyalty, to threatening to close down vernacular schools.
Initially, Mahathir Mohamad thought his party – PPBM (Bersatu) – could morph into a new version of UMNO. After all, it was he who brilliantly destroyed the original UMNO in 1988 and created ‘UMNO Baru’ (the current UMNO version 2.0). But unlike in 1988, Mahathir had quit UMNO to form PPBM on 8 September 2016 and was no longer in charge of UMNO.
Hence, after he leveraged on opposition Pakatan Harapan and stunningly defeated the scandal-plagued Najib government, his first priority was recruiting UMNO MPs to join his party. UMNO, although lost miserably, still won 54 parliamentary seats in the May 2018 General Election – more than 4 times the number of seats Mahathir’s party managed to capture.
Mahathir’s party won only 13 seats out of the 52 Parliamentary seats it contested in the 2018 poll. That’s only a 25% success rate, the worst among four strategic parties making up the new Pakatan Harapan government. PKR became the biggest party, winning 47 out of 71 seats contested (66% success rate) while DAP grabbed 42 of 47 seats contested (89% success rate).
Even AMANAH, the smallest party of the coalition, had done better than PPBM, capturing 11 or 34 seats it contested – a comfortable 32% success rate. Desperate to enlarge its party, Mahathir ignored criticisms and happily accepted UMNO defectors, doubling his party’s MPs to 26. However, after PPBM lost the Tanjung Piai seat to the opposition, its number is reduced to only 25 MPs.
The humiliating defeat in the Tanjung Piai by-election last month was indeed a game changer to PPBM. Not only Mahathir’s party failed to win sizable Malay voters despite his racial and religious extremism, the strategy backfired and angered more Chinese voters than the premier had anticipated. PPBM lost by over 15,000 votes – punished by both Malays and Chinese voters at the same time.
Even before the unexpected Tanjung Piai by-election loss, the UMNO frogs had already stopped jumping over. Shocked, Mahathir claimed his government had expected to lose by not more than 2,000 votes. Naturally, after the Tanjung Piai, it becomes harder to entice the remaining 38 UMNO MPs to defect and join a losing party like PPBM (Bersatu).
Azmin Ali, the blue-eyed boy of Mahathir who was caught in a leaked gay sex video, immediately arranged a secret dinner meeting on Nov 17, just two days after his political master was given a bloody nose by angry voters in Tanjung Piai. The attendance of 22 Members of Parliaments – 17 from UMNO and 5 from PKR – was just an attempt to throw a cat among the pigeons.
The errand boy fails to get the number – at least 112 MPs in the 222-seat Parliament – for Mahathir to form a simple majority government with oppositions UMNO Malay nationalist party and PAS Islamist party. So, does that mean it’s game over for the 94-year-old cunning old fox? Not until his family dynasty is properly put in place.
Mahathir is known for saying one thing but doing another thing altogether. After Tanjung Piai’s screw-up, one would expect Mahathir to change his strategy. But not only the old man didn’t learn his lesson, he has gotten more racist and extreme. He deliberately invited Indian Muslim hate preacher Zakir Naik to the recent Kuala Lumpur 2019 Summit to make a statement.
The world’s oldest prime minister has no plan to tone down his racism, extremism, xenophobia, Malay supremacy and all forms of bigotry. The influential Zakir Naik could one day be a useful tool to rally gullible Malay-Muslims for his party. With nothing to lose, Mahathir wants to prove that he could become more Malay than UMNO-Malays and more Islam than PAS-Muslims.
In what seems like a deliberate attempt to instigate racial riots, PM Mahathir warned Chinese education group Dong Jiao Zong that there could be consequences to its Chinese Organization Congress seeking to persuade the government to cancel ‘Khat Jawi’ lessons in vernacular Chinese and Indian schools. He threatened that the Malay community might retaliate.
Mahathir said – “That will only result in Malays having their congress and talking about closing down Chinese schools. We are a multiracial country – it is important for us to be considerate about other people’s feelings. If you start making attacks against other races or going against the Constitution, the end result will be chaos, instability, and everybody will be poor.”
So, the Malays can organize Malay Dignity Congress (MDC) but the Chinese cannot do the same? More importantly, the Mahathir’s MDC can attack and threaten the minorities that their citizenship could be revoked, but Chinese Organization Congress cannot even hold a meeting just to discuss Khat Jawi lessons being forced down the throat of Chinese and Indians primary students.
The irresponsible remarks by Mahathir were obviously a green light for Malay extreme and racist groups to take to the street and “run amok”. Notorious Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali, one of Mahathir’s good buddies, has demanded the government to bring back the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960, a draconian law that allows for detention without trial or criminal charges.
It appears that freedom of speech is applicable only to the premier and people aligned to him. Perhaps ‘Dictator Mahathir’ wanted a repeat of ‘Operasi Lalang (Weeding Operation)’, a major crackdown launched on 27 October 1987 by the police under the pretext of combating racial riots – but used to arrest activists, opposition politicians, students and others who opposed his corruption and dictatorship.
Yes, the old Mahathir is back. And now everything makes perfect sense why he did what he did. Last year, he laughed, mocked and insulted UMNO and even predicted that the corrupt party would collapse. He said – “UMNO is fragmented now. It is going to collapse. There is no future for UMNO anymore because people detest the party.” That was before UMNO MPs crossed over.
The easiest way to destroy UMNO is simply to engineer the defection of its elected MPs and state assemblymen. It is also the only way for PPBM to remain influential in the Pakatan Harapan coalition, hence the opportunity for Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz, to become a prime minister one fine day. When Mahathir kicks the bucket, it’s the number game that will determine the survivability of his son.
At that time, ex-PM Najib Razak’s cousin, Hishammuddin Hussein, was supposed to turn traitor and leave the party with 30 MPs to join Mahathir. The prime minister had expected a sea of change when ex-UMNO MPs switch to his party in droves. He was looking forward to the day when UMNO ends up with only a handful of MPs before the next 15th general election.
But that day didn’t materialise. Instead, the remaining 38 UMNO MPs in the House of Representatives refuse to jump ship and have adopted a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude. This year, Mahathir rarely performs his chest-thumping stunt and declares UMNO is going to be history. Likewise, UMNO has been remarkably quiet and hardly criticises Mahathir.
What happens throughout the entire year 2019 is a concerted attack against Chinese-based DAP party and the Chinese community. Make no mistake. Mahathir’s consistent attacks against Chinese education group Dong Jiao Zong is no different than UMNO’s year-long attacks against DAP. At the end of the day, the purpose of Mahathir and UMNO is to weaken the DAP.
Besides Khat Jawi, other racialized issues included the ashes of former communist leader Chin Peng, defunct-LTTE but deemed as a terrorist organization, hate preacher Zakir Naik, race quota in matriculation programme, and whatnot. It was to stir up racial and religious sentiments among the ignorant Malays that they have lost power to the “Chinese, Christians and Communists”.
There is only one reason why Mahathir, after splitting ally PKR into Anwar and Azmin factions, wanted to weaken DAP, who commanded up to 95% of Chinese support in the 2018 general election. The old fox’s game plan has changed. He realises that UMNO cannot be destroyed. Despite the corruption, UMNO has become an institution too entrenched in the country, thanks partly to Mahathir.
Yes, Mahathir’s endgame is to rejoin UMNO – after his unforgivable enemy Najib Razak is sent to prison. From the beginning, his mission was to topple Najib. Now that his protégé-turn-nemesis faces corruption charges, there is no compelling reason for Mahathir to destroy UMNO, the same party he created back in 1988. After all, if he can’t beat UMNO, then it’s wise to rejoin UMNO.
Once Najib, arguably the most influential and charismatic crook in UMNO, is imprisoned, the rest of UMNO MPs would fall in line. Assuming a handful of the 38 MPs cannot be accepted, a merger of Bersatu and UMNO could create the biggest Malay political party with MPs numbering close to 60. If traitor Azmin could bring 15 MPs from PKR, that number will balloon to 75 MPs.
With crooks like Najib Razak and Zahid Hamidi out of UMNO, the party will basically become leaderless. Warlords like deputy president Mohamad Hasan, Annuar Musa, Hishammuddin Hussein are expected to play significant roles in convincing UMNO grassroots to accept Mahathir as their new leader. As the dominant party once again, the gravy train will ensure everyone gets their rewards.
It also explains why UMNO is yet to be declared illegal and closed down, despite the fact that its accounts have been frozen by the authorities for more than a year due to money laundering. And it definitely explains why other crooks like Hishammuddin has not been grilled, let alone arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
DAP is already trapped. They can’t reprimand Mahathir’s racial and religious extremism for fear of being called anti-Malays. Heck, they can’t even openly support Chinese education group Dong Jiao Zong for the same reason. Once Mahathir rejoins UMNO, he has little use of the Chinese voters. DAP would slowly become like MCA, ‘kowtow’ to UMNO under Mahathir leadership.
Think about it. Whatever Mahathir and his minions do lately have all the trademarks of UMNO – from using ethnic Chinese as the punching bag, calling them communists regardless of their loyalty, to threatening to close down the vernacular schools unless the minority ethnic obediently accepts whatever crap and nonsense shoved down their throats. – Finance Twitter