POLITICAL survival could be bringing together Umno’s Hishammuddin Hussein and PKR’s Mohamed Azmin Ali tas both men try to ensure their futures after Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said analysts.
The two men may expect to gain little favour from Anwar Ibrahim when he takes over the prime minister’s office, as agreed under a succession plan all Pakatan Harapan parties have endorsed.
Azmin has problems with the PKR president and prime minister-designate, while Hishammuddin has no power or position within Umno since Barisan Nasional lost the 14th general election last year.
A meeting on Monday night, hosted by Azmin who is Economic Affairs Minister and PKR deputy president, and where Hishammuddin was present, has now revived speculation there are plans to ensure Anwar does not become the country’s eighth prime minister.
But such sneaky attempts to thwart Anwar is a dangerous game, said political analyst Azizuddin Mohd Sani, a professor at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM).
“The people will be the victims if backdoor approaches are taken without the numbers in parliament.
“This may be Azmin and Hishammuddin’s chance to stop Anwar, by riding on the back of the Tanjung Piai by-election results which show a rejection of PH.
“While such moves are typical of politics, if it results in chaos and instability, the people will be the victims, and they will have to bear that responsibility,” Azizuddin told The Malaysian Insight.
Twenty-two BN MPs, including Hishammuddin, and six PKR MPs, met for two hours on Monday night in Azmin’s residence. It is believed they planned strategies to keep Dr Mahathir Mohamad on as the head of government.
The PH chairman is facing calls for his resignation following the ruling coalition’s defeat in the Tanjung Piai by-election on Saturday. The large margin of defeat by more than 15,000 votes is viewed to be aa rejection of the PH government’s 18 months in federal power.
Hishammuddin’s attendance at the Monday night meeting also revived speculation of yet more moves to ensure his political survival outside BN, since the Sembrong MP was previously linked to attempts to get Umno MPs to crossover to PH.
Azmin had said it was an “ordinary meeting” and PKR central leadership committee member Kamaruddin Jaafar denied that it was about stopping attempts to force Dr Mahathir down.
Azizuddin believes Azmin and Hishammuddin are making moves related to political succession.
There is fear that when Anwar becomes prime minister, there will be no place for them in government. But given their stature on the political scene, they can still play a role and have a chance,” he said.
“But going through the backdoor is a rejection of the people’s mandate. If you want to change government, the way to do it is through elections.”
It could also come down to the number of MPs who support keeping Dr Mahathir in power, but Azizuddin said the only way to know for sure was If each MP made a sworn statement.
“Will any of them dare to do so, will they dare to sign a sworn statement that would lead to a change of government?” he asked.
Another analyst, Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub concurred it made sense for Azmin and Hishammuddin to work together to stop Anwar from becoming the next prime minister.
“Hishammuddin and Azmin have enjoyed the benefits of being in politics, as a former minister and minister.
“Their political strategy now is not just for their survival, but to have a place within a larger picture that involves the Malays, Anwar and certain powers within PH,” said the Universiti Malaya senior lecturer in administrative studies and politics.
The question is how will Azmin and Hishammuddin fare against a succession plan that has the backing of all PH parties and which has been accepted by voters as part of PH’s GE14 campaign.
Lembah Pantai MP and PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil said Azmin and Hishammuddin would bring about their own downfall, if stopping Anwar from becoming PM is part of their plans for political survival.
He questioned the logic of it, and of why BN MPs attended the meeting when the opposition had won the Tg Piai by-election handsomely.
Former BN secretary-general Nazri Aziz also believed that whatever strategy being cooked up would not succeed, as Hishammuddin had no authority in Umno to engineer any plot.
“(Hishammuddin) is no longer an Umno leader, on what authority can he get BN MPs to meet with Azmin?” Nazri said.