If there is a panic button, Umno Youth vice-chief Khairul Azwan Harun has just pressed it. How? By calling former premier and Pakatan Harapan chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad the main enemy of the Malays, of all places, in Kelantan.

Now, let us get the facts straight. No one names any an enemy ahead of time unless he wants one. Calling another an enemy is akin to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In “The Art of War”, Sun Tzu, a military genius, affirmed the importance of knowing oneself in order to defeat the enemy. Nowhere in his military classics did Sun Tzu call for an outright identification of an enemy.

Thus, Khairul Azwan has not only shown his ignorance in the political art of war but he has amplified the sheer ignorance of Umno Youth and Umno writ large.

In every political battle where Mahathir has been identified as the main enemy, he has come out as the winner. How?

By speaking the truth and, in the words of Muhyiddin Yassin, “taking the bull by the horns”. Mahathir has dislodged all political orders.

This may involve training his gun on Tunku Abdul Rahman, even Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, but he has always respected Abdul Razak Hussein.

In fact, it pains Mahathir to have to challenge Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, since he is the son of former premier Abdul Razak Hussein. This is why Mahathir gave Najib numerous opportunities to make amends.

Najib given chance

When the story of 1MDB broke out in 2012, Mahathir did not join the opposition immediately. He gave Najib the chance to earn his own plaudits.

By 2015, it was clear that Najib and Umno had lost their moral compass. Corruption, malfeasance and abuse of power have not only consumed 1MDB but spread to Mara, Felda, and Tabung Haji.

Had Mahathir not been the chairperson of Petronas, the tentacles of Najib and Umno would have found their way into it.

Thus, to see Khairul Azwan identifying Mahathir as the “main enemy”, or “musuh utama” is not merely an affront to all that is true and righteous, but a direct assault on all the institutions that have been built to protect Malays and Malaysians alike.

The truth is clear. Since 2009, Najib has failed to manage the finances of Malaysia, let alone lead the country. Either as prime minister or finance minister, Najib has made many unforced errors.

By using US$11 billion dollars’ worth of debt, borrowed not from World Bank or other development banks which are legions in the world, he has borrowed the money from international financial institutions.

Even the attempt to syndicate and originate the loans with the help of Goldman Sachs was daft to say the least. By pledging to defend Najib and Umno, Khairul Azwan is doing what all party hacks have been trained to do: defend the indefensible.

This is what makes Dr Mahathir and Bersatu, which he leads, distinctive. Together with other Malaysian political parties that have seen through the facade of the whole charade, the whole of Malaysia is in rebellion.

Yet Khairul Azwan is still blind, deaf and mute to the whole fiasco, even as the cost of living has rocketed skyward due to the profligacy of Najib. Take the role of Goldman Sachs in 1MDB for instance.

Having known that they have overcharged the Malaysian government, Goldman Sachs has understood the inevitable. That their game is up. Thus they have to virtually shut down their operations in Malaysia. Why?

One feeds his own ego, surrounded by advisors who are not there to advise but to set the trap for Najib to walk deeper into. Khairul Azwan, oblivious to his own foolishness, has ploughed right into the ditch.

RAIS HUSSIN is a supreme council member of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu). He also heads the Policy and Strategy Bureau of Bersatu.