Anwar Ibrahim was extraordinary calm – even joyful – when he told an army of reporters yesterday (Nov 23) that he was going out to watch a movie (“tengok wayang”). Enjoying popcorn himself, he then proceeded to distribute more popcorn to reporters who waited outside his office. The media thought it was a joke, but what the Pakatan Harapan chairman meant was to watch a classic Malay political drama.
Unlike previously, where he prematurely announced on Sept 22, 2020 that he had garnered a “strong, formidable, convincing majority” of MPs to form a new government, only to be played and laughed after it failed, Anwar has only expressed his “optimism” this round. Refraining from alerting the enemies, his offer of “popcorn” was the clearest clue that he knew how the drama would end up.
Today, after a 5-day wait following the 15th General Election that produced a hung Parliament, Mr Anwar has been sworn in as the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia – nearly 25 years since he was sacked as deputy prime minister by then-PM Mahathir Mohamad in 1998. Both domestic and international investors immediately jumped into Malaysian assets.
Stock market skyrockets 58.38 points (4.04%) after it’s established that a religious extremist government led by former PM Muhyiddin Yassin will not be in power. At 6pm, Ringgit jumped 815 percentage points to RM4.49 against the U.S. dollar – the first time the local currency appreciates below the psychological level of RM4.50. Under Sabri government, it plunged to as low as RM4.75.
Anwar’s appointment was confirmed after King Sultan Abdullah sought the opinions of brother rulers in a special Conference of Malay Rulers today. But it was a walk in the park for the nine rulers of the Malay states. Before the conference started this morning, a decision was already made by Barisan Nasional last night, who despite winning only 30 seats, is the ultimate kingmaker.
There was an explosive of anxiety and concerns yesterday when Barisan Nasional and Perikatan Nasional leaders met at the five-star St Regis Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, sparking wild rumours that Anwar would fail again in his epic journey for the Iron Throne. There were speculations that UMNO-led Barisan Nasional would use an earlier negotiation with Pakatan Harapan to extract a better offer.
After revealing the offers from Anwar, Barisan Nasional asked Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin to counter offer – in black and white. Short of the top prize – 10th Prime Minister – Perikatan Nasional would go home empty-handed because Pakatan Harapan has already offered the deputy prime minister during a “friendly meeting” at Seri Pacific Hotel two days earlier (Nov 21).
Desperation was visible in Perikatan when it scrambled all the top leaders to St Regis Hotel. Muhyiddin was flanked by deputy chairman cum PAS Islamist party president Abdul Hadi Awang, Perak Perikatan chairman Ahmad Faizal Azumu, secretary-general Hamzah Zainuddin, Bersatu vice-president Radzi Jidin, Gerakan chief Dominic Lau, and Bersatu vice-president Ronald Kiandee.
The United Malays National Organization (UMNO) knew an offer of prime ministership at such hour was not only insincere, but would be just a short-term gain. Even former PM Najib Razak had delivered a message from his prison cell to UMNO to consider long-term interests during negotiation. Muhyiddin’s Bersatu was established to kill UMNO and take over its grassroots and machinery, as well as its assets.
Having worked with Muhyiddin since the day he betrayed his own friends and allies in Pakatan Harapan, resulting in the collapse of the democratically-elected government in just 22 months in March 2020, UMNO knew very well that Bersatu and its partner PAS are like tiger and python that attacks and swallows from the back while Pakatan is a lion that prefers to attack from the front.
Therefore, there was absolutely no intention to work with Perikatan Nasional, let alone help the traitors Muhyiddin and Hadi form the government. The St Regis meeting was just a political drama that UMNO was being fair by meeting both Pakatan and Perikatan. UMNO still remember how it was bullied and backstabbed by Perikatan – it was priceless to see Muhyiddin’s panic face.
After burning the midnight oil, UMNO finally announced that it will be part of a unity government that is not led by Perikatan Nasional – a naughty way to say it supports Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan without actually saying it to prevent offending UMNO-Malay voters. The fact that the vague statement has raised doubts even within Pakatan supporters means Zahid should be given the Oscars award.
From the moment Zahid led Barisan Nasional leaders to meet Anwar and his lieutenants at Seri Pacific Hotel to prospect a unity or power-sharing government, it was done to play and trap Muhyiddin, Azmin, Hamzah and Hadi. As published in previous articles, it was already a “done deal” when both coalitions swiftly formed the Perak state government on the same day the meeting took place.
Not many realized that Anwar had been accorded Special Branch protection as early as after the meeting at Seri Pacific Hotel. The fourth sign was when police roadblocks were set-up yesterday in every district nationwide – operating 24-hour – under the lame excuse of preventing crime. It was, of course, to warn Perikatan Nasional leaders from starting racial riots similar to the May 13, 1969.
Pakatan Harapan supporters have been accepting losses in every election since 1998. Hence, the only explanation is the military intelligence has received information that Perikatan Nasional supporters could have been paid or instigated to create chaos. During the election campaign, Muhyiddin said Christians were working with Jews to Christianise Malaysia, while Hadi tried to radicalise people with violent Islamic extremism.
The fifth clue that Barisan Nasional will throw its support behind Pakatan Harapan was when a top UMNO Terengganu warlord emerged from the final meeting last night and told reporters that they wanted to investigate the source of Perikatan Nasional’s massive funding in its election campaign. One of the reasons Muhyiddin wanted to return to power by hook or by crook is the dubious spending of RM600 billion during his regime.
The sixth suspicion was the unexplainable calmness within Pakatan Harapan component parties, even when UMNO repeatedly decided to not support Pakatan Harapan or Barisan Nasional. Exactly why didn’t PKR, DAP, Amanah and UPKO scrambled to meet when Sarawak-based Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Sabah-based Gabungan Rakyat Sabah pledged their support for Muhyiddin?
The only explanation – Barisan Nasional’s 30 MPs are well secured and Anwar had in his pocket 112 MPs, leaving Muhyiddin running around like a headless chicken as GPS kept flip-flopping. Knowing that no government can be formed without Barisan Nasional, UMNO deliberately refused to support either Pakatan or Perikatan because it wanted the Palace to untangle its biggest political obstacle.
After decades of bashing Democratic Action Party (DAP) as a Chinese chauvinist party, it would be a political suicide for UMNO-led Barisan Nasional to join the Pakatan Harapan government. Likewise, after decades of slamming UMNO’s corruptions, it would be hard for Pakatan Harapan, especially DAP, to explain to the ethnic Chinese how they could work together now.
There were basically two solutions after Barisan Nasional’s disastrous election results. One, it becomes opposition and rejuvenate or reform. At the same time, it can extend support to Pakatan Harapan through MOU because its enemy’s enemy is its friend. However, it would be difficult to explain to its grassroots and supporters why it must support its decade-old enemies Anwar and DAP.
Second solution – it joins a unity government led by Pakatan Harapan. This is worse because it creates a perception that Barisan is so hungry for power that it is willing to legitimize Anwar and DAP. But it would be a different story if the ball is passed to the King, who in turn issued a royal decree forcing Barisan Nasional to choose either Pakatan Harapan or Perikatan Nasional to solve the deadlock.
And that’s precisely what happened. With the King’s order, the Malay nationalist party can now tell all and sundry that it had no choice but to choose the lesser of two evils. It can easily argue that not only had Perikatan Nasional stolen its Malay strongholds, but also MPs. And Anwar has generously offered the deputy prime minister despite having fewer seats than during Muhyiddin regime in 2020.
It was part of the plan to keep GPS and even Barisan Nasional component parties in the dark about UMNO’s support for Anwar’s coalition, allowing Muhyiddin to fantasize that he had the support of at least 115 MPs. It was this deception that the former backdoor prime minister arrogantly rejected Agong’s royal proposal for both Pakatan and Perikatan to form a unity government.
It was already too late when Muhyiddin realized his mistake and shamelessly made a U-turn and wanted to be part of the unity government after Anwar was announced as the 10th Prime Minister. Did anyone notice that Hishammuddin and his nephew, Johor Chief Minister Onn Hafiz, instantly stop asking Zahid to resign after the friendly meeting between Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional at Seri Pacific Hotel?
Heck, Hishammuddin was made to rubbish a statement circulating in social media quoting him as saying 10 UMNO MPs were backing Muhyiddin as prime minister, the same dubious list which Muhyiddin sent to the Palace to show his legitimacy. Only silly Wee Ka Siong, president of MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association) keeps barking like a mad dog till today demanding the resignation of Zahid.
Of course, we know why MCA was extremely upset over the unity government. Its relevance would drop to zero in the presence of DAP, the de-facto representative of ethnic Chinese in the country. There might be no portfolio for MCA in the cabinet of Anwar government. Still, barking non-stop would only invite more humiliation when UMNO lectures it to reflect itself in the mirror.
It’s funny that in his entire political career, Wee still has not learned the basic Malay politics. That’s why Chinese politicians in this country can never compete with Malay politicians. Any UMNO politicians can easily eat the MCA president for breakfast. From the beginning, it was a trap to make Muhyiddin thinks he had enough MPs to form a government, leading to his rejection of a unity government proposed by the King.
Imagine the problems and complications had Muhyiddin agreed to share power with Anwar. The history of plotting, lying, scheming, sabotaging and backstabbing each other will repeat itself again till Muhyiddin grabs power through backdoor. Make no mistake. Barisan Nasional is still the same crocodile that is leveraging on Pakatan Harapan’s popularity to boost its reputation.
Suddenly, crooked Zahid becomes the saviour who saved the day when the country was about to be radicalized by religious extremists and racist bigots from Perikatan Nasional. Newly crowned PM Anwar Ibrahim should be careful when dealing with UMNO. The expectation is incredibly high for his leadership to not only turn around the country, but also to fight corruption.