Unelected backdoor Prime Minister Ismail Sabri could easily keep his job after the next 15th General Election – by playing dumb and delay the election till Najib Razak is sent to jail and Zahid Hamidi is convicted. His biggest and immediate threat – Najib and Zahid – must be neutralized if the turtle-egg man does not wish to be humiliated as the shortest serving premier.
Najib has only one shot at the Federal Court, the highest court and the final appellate court in the country. If his appeal fails, which is most likely the case unless the judges are bribed or intimidated, the former prime minister will go straight to jail – even if there is a plan to grant him a royal pardon. Zahid, who depends on Najib’s popularity to pull the crowd, will then become a headless chicken.
So, the strategy is extremely simple. Neutralize both Najib and Zahid and the Iron Throne is Sabri’s to keep. There’s no other option. That’s how PM Sabri should flex his muscles and consolidate his power in the party. It will send shivers down the spine of both Najib and Zahid’s loyalists. Like it or not, without Najib and Zahid, all the UMNO warlords will have no choice but to rally behind the PM.
In fact, it’s in the best interest of everyone, including the Opposition, that both Najib and Zahid are terminated. Opposition Pakatan Harapan, who had campaigned and defeated UMNO-led Barisan Nasional ruling government in the 2018 General Election under the platform of overthrowing the tyranny and corrupted Najib leadership, can claim some sort of victory.
Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin, whose party is one of governing partners in the current ruling government, too will get his sweet revenge. Former PM Muhyiddin is still a very angry humiliated man after Najib and Zahid factions plotted his downfall by withdrawing support, forcing him to resign after just 17 months in power in August 2021 – effectively becomes the shortest serving PM.
Another party, PAS Islamist party, is trapped between Bersatu’s Perikatan Nasional coalition and UMNO’s Muafakat Nasional alliance. If Najib and Zahid are out of the picture, PAS will not have to choose which party to align in the next national poll as there would be no more UMNO factions. A united UMNO under Ismail Sabri will work together with Bersatu and PAS to win a landslide victory.
Heck, even Mahathir Mohamad, who has served as prime minister twice – first as the leader of then-ruling coalition Barisan Nasional for 22 years and then as chairman of Pakatan Harapan for 22 months – might smile and return to UMNO. After all, the 96-year-old grandpa’s personal crusade was to topple Najib and ensure the crook enjoys his holidays in the prison.
However, assuming Ismail Sabri isn’t as dumb as he looks, he should hire a new batch of capable and smart advisers because the prime minister appears to be shooting his own foot every single week. The government’s latest moronic decision to form a “Special Task Force on Jihad against Inflation” is hilarious, self-contradiction and absolutely ridiculous.
Malaysia is the only silly country in the world that has declared jihad (an Arabic word which literally means “striving” or “struggling”) to fight inflation, even though the entire world is basically facing the same economic problem. None of the 50 Muslim-majority countries, let alone 1.8 billion Muslims on planet Earth – except Malaysia – sees the need to declare jihad on inflation.
The best part – it was merely a week ago when Economic Affairs Minister Mustapa Mohamed and Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul told all and sundry that the country’s inflation – claimed to be at 2.2% in March – was under control. In fact, both genius ministers had self-praised the Sabri backdoor government for doing an excellent job in keeping the inflation low.
But the most comical drama is that while the special Jihad Task Force was announced on June 29, Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa proudly declared on the next day (June 30) that Malaysia’s inflation rate remains among the lowest in the world due to the government’s commitment to controlling the prices of goods and necessities.
Mr Annuar said – “We are grateful that our country has one of the lowest inflation rates in the world. The inflation rate of 2.8% is among the lowest in ASEAN and a lot lower than many advanced nations. Perhaps many people are not aware that this is due to the government’s commitment to control the rising price of goods and necessities by providing subsidies.”
The U.S. inflation rate accelerated to 8.5% in March, after hitting 7.5% in January and 7.9% in February – the highest in 40 years. Subsequently, the U.S. Consumer Price Index, a key measure of inflation, improved slightly to 8.3% for the month of April, but it remained the fastest pace in 40 years. The U.S. inflation rate unexpectedly accelerated to 8.6% in May 2022 – the highest since December 1981.
Likewise, European Union annual inflation was 6.2% in February 2022, up from 5.6% in January. The euro zone’s inflation in March hits another high – 7.5% – thanks to high fuel prices. It then recorded 7.4% in April, before shooting to record 8.1% in May. Inflation in the 27-member E.U. is now at its highest level since record-keeping began in 1997.
Like the U.S., Britain’s inflation rate similarly hit a record 40-year high of 9.1% in May – the highest level since 1982 – as compared to 9% in April and 7% in March. The U.K.’s inflation was so bad that the Bank of England has imposed a fifth consecutive hike in interest rates to cool down inflation. The British central bank warned that inflation could reach a staggering 11% later this year.
Clearly, Malaysia’s inflation rate of 2.8% is an incredible achievement that neither the U.S. nor E.U. or the U.K. could match. However, if indeed the inflation data offered by the Malaysian Statistics Department can be trusted in the first place, why is there an urgent need to establish the Jihad Task Force to fight inflation now? Does the Sabri government have nothing better to do?
The members of the newly formed task force are finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz, agriculture and food industries minister Ronald Kiandee, domestic trade and consumer affairs minister Alexander Nanta Linggi, economic affairs minister Mustapa Mohamed and chief secretary to the government Zuki Ali. And the head of the task force is Annuar Musa.
So, the task force consists of three brilliant ministers (Zafrul, Mustapa and Annuar) who have had already announced that the country’s inflation is the lowest in the entire universe, with another minister (Alexander) who flip-flopped about ceiling price of chicken and an obedient chief secretary who is clueless about inflation. With so many talents, what could possibly go wrong with the task force?
First question – why was Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa made the chairman of the task force that is parked under the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (Alexander Nanta Linggi)? Second question – why the National Recovery Council (MPN) headed by former PM Muhyiddin Yassin wasn’t involved in the task force? If Muhyiddin is irrelevant, why not close it down to save taxpayers’ money?
Third question – with the new Jihad Task Force, does the country still need the National Economic Action Council (NEAC), a consultative body established in 1998 (as a result of 1997-98 Asia Financial Crisis) to specifically deal with the conomic crisis? NEAC’s role includes monitor global economic information and provide analysis and advice to the Council.
Fourth question – another body formed on March 11, 2020 after Muhyiddin became the backdoor prime minister was EAC (Economic Action Council). One of its core functions is to identify current economic issues and recommend actions to ensure the economy remains sustainable as well as reducing the impact of global economic uncertainty. Should this council be closed down as well?
Fifth question – the National Action Council on Cost of Living (NACCOL), established on February 7, 2018, is supposed to address issues and challenges related to the cost of living in Malaysia. The secretariat for NACCOL is the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs. So, why waste money and time setting up a new task force when this council already existed for the job?
There are hundreds of committees or task forces being set up over the years, creating not only redundancy, but also confusion over their roles. The clueless and incompetent government keeps creating a new task force whenever they like as if they are changing underwear everyday. The people need action and solutions, not more meeting and bullshitting by ministers.
Exactly what happens to the task force set up to investigate an underground “meat cartel” first exposed in December 2020 for distributing fake halal beef as well as passing off the horse and kangaroo meat as beef to Malaysian Muslims for the last 40 years? Yes, it has been 18 months since the meat smuggling scandal exploded, yet Muslims might still be consuming the non-halal meat today.
While inflation happens in every country, the situation in Malaysia is made worse by policies that are based on corruption, favouritism, nepotism, cronyism, racism and whatnot. The problem is this – on top of IP (import permit), you have AP (approved permit), and on top of AP you have Cartel. And when it comes to food, one man – Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary – basically controls the supply-chains.
As an UMNO proxy, billionaire Syed Mokhtar rose to prominence after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and is now the biggest player in Malaysia’s rice, sugar, flour, bakery, ports, postal, news media, automobile, financial and power production sectors. Does PM Ismail Sabri have the balls to strip the powerful Syed Mokhtar’s IP (import permit) and AP (approved permit)?
The long term solution to fix a shortage of food is to give lands to farmers, regardless of race and religion, to produce food. Is the government ready to offer lands – either free or at least leases of 20 years – to farmers? It’s a known fact that farmers are being evicted by state land offices to make way for corporations, while vegetable cartels run protection rackets. Strengthening local currency also help brings down inflation.
The people are not stupid. They still remember how the clueless and incompetent prime minister keeps screwing up. During the massive floods last year, the premier conveniently blamed it as a 1-in-100-year flooding when his government failed to mobilize national assets to rescue the victims. While flood victims were trapped on the roof, Ismail’s son-in-law misused government helicopter to rescue himself.
PM Sabri was also criticized when he was seen accompanied by an extraordinary large entourage comprising more than 50-car convoy during his visit to the flood-hit areas. When criticised for slow response, he said – “They (rescue teams) had problems in responding to victims stranded on rooftops as they could not see the addresses as the road signs had been submerged”.
As the people were struggling to put food on the table, the prime minister deliberately showed off his RM5,500 Burberry designer shirt during a meeting with his Singapore counterpart. Last week, he again flaunted his British luxury brand Burberry shirt, which costs about RM6,900 a piece, while mingling with the people at a carnival in Putrajaya.
On June 1, when Mr Ismail hinted that the government may re-introduce GST, he was caught wearing an expensive designer watch – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 44MM Blue Cameo – worth a whopping RM292,553. After his failure to make Bahasa Melayu (Malay language) as one of the official languages in ASEAN, he now tries to capitalize on inflation.
But the attempt to Islamize inflation by using jihad is over-killed, even by Arab standard. Ismail Sabri should stop trying to prove that not only he is incompetent, but also a useless and clueless prime minister. The government’s poll on Twitter to get feedback on the Jihad Task Force was abruptly deleted after more than 90% responded negatively. That alone shows how disconnected the PM is with the people.