Written by Stan Lee, Politics Now!
KUALA LUMPUR (Politics Now!) – The changing fortunes of sacked Umno bigwig Annuar Musa has cast a light into the future of Malaysia’s volatile political scene, marked by 4 changes in prime ministers in the past 5 years – with the ineffective Anwar Ibrahim looking set to lose the post he has coveted for decades – not due to elitism, racism or political manoeuvring but plain and simple, his own massive underperformance!
Annuar Musa was named the number 2 man to Pas’ fast-rising star Sanusi Md Nor – and will take on the role of deputy election chief, in a move that slams the door shut on his long-held and once-prized Umno roots and perhaps also his personal ambition to be prime minister.
Once seen as a potential candidate for the PM’s post, Annuar at the height of his power was the man who effectively called the shots for Umno in former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s embattled Cabinet. He spoke louder and fiercer even than his own Umno party president Zahid Hamidi, as Muhyiddin, the Bersatu president, made him a minister but not Zahid!
Together with Pas secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan and Bersatu’s Hamzah Zainuddin, Annuar was the third member of the trio called the ‘Gang Publika’.
They were reputedly the most powerful faction in the then ruling PN coalition as Hamzah had Muhyiddin’s ear. Few of the major and perhaps disastrous political and policy decisions made during the Muhyiddin administration were not ‘brainstormed’ from their war room at the Publika mall.
‘WASHOUTS’ NO LONGER IN THE RUNNING?
Gang Publika – Takiyuddin (left), Annua Musa (center), Hamzah (right)
Unfortunately, none of the trio can be said to be doing well these days.
Hamzah, now the Opposition Leader in Parliament, is facing corruption and abuse of power charges. So is his son. Whilst Takiyuddin, once seen as the right-hand man and alternative PM candidate to Pas chief Hadi Awang, has been sidelined by younger talent springing up in the party. As for Annuar, his ‘fall’ has been the most spectacular of the three so far.
Whither the trio as Malaysia prepares for yet another political rollercoaster – a powder keg, tooth and nail fight for power and the coveted prime minister’s post even as the nation prepares to welcome a new King for a new 5-year term that begins on Jan 31, 2024.
“I think unless you stretch your imagination, all three have to be described as ‘washouts’ rather than ‘still in the running’ candidates for top tier power,” a political pundit told Politics Now!
“They had their chance but blew it, not only because they overplayed the race and religious card to the extent they didn’t want to give even an inch of space to the non-Malays but at the end of the day, the Muhyiddin and Ismail Sabri regimes performed so badly it was clear even to the Malays, there would be no hope for the economy if they stayed on in power.”
“And the same goes now for Anwar Ibrahim. His administration may be less Malay-centric and more friendly to non-Malays but look how the Ringgit is now at its lowest in history while the economic uncertainty is getting really scary. No amount of posturing, race or religious championing can help. Just like Publika gang, Anwar too has become a relic, a ‘washout’ and will have to go.”
EXIT ‘GANG PUBLIKA’ – ENTER HISHAM?
Hamzah (left) and Hisham (right)
Hamzah, perhaps the brightest of the three, was also the quietest. Seen as the gang-leader, he let Annuar and Takiyuddin do all the chest-thumping and arm-waving.
Touted as Bersatu’s PM candidate as Muhyiddin is still widely unpopular, Hamzah’s performance as Opposition Leader has been disappointing – he is still extremely quiet and has not been able organize fresh campaigns or rebuttals against Anwar’s government.
Speculation is rife Umno elite Hishammuddin Hussein may cross over to become Bersatu’s prime minister candidate and lead a coordinated effort by the opposition to oust Anwar as PM.
Even if Hishammuddin stays in Umno, Hamzah would lose ground in Bersatu to party mate and also rival Azmin Ali, who is close to Hishammuddin, if the ouster succeeds.
TAKIYUDDIN – OVERTAKEN!
Muhyiddin (front), Takiyuddin (back)
Takiyuddin, regarded by the village-based Pas as one of its most polished politicians, always careful to don Western attire in Parliament, tried his best to pull his party’s Muslim cables.
But he was outshone as dynamic and younger trailblazers from within Pas pulled the rug out from under him.
Silently, Takiyuddin fell from his perch, unnoticed and left in the background as the ‘dynamic duo’ of Sanusi Md Nor, the Kedah chief minister, and Samsuri Mokhtar, the Terengganu chief minister, climbed over his head to the forefront.
Now they and not him are wanted by Pas members to be their PM candidate.
CAN DYNAMIC DUO BEAT HISHAM?
Sanusi (right) and Samsuri (left)
Will this duo will contend against Hishammuddin, who is regarded as the best choice for PM now by the Malay elites due to his more centered and balanced stance despite an episode during his Umno Youth days when he waved the keris or Malay sword as if to threaten the non-Malays?
“It remains to be seen and how the final power equation is written – who and who on which side to balance who and who on the other side. But I think it’s highly unlikely because the PM must be PM for all Malaysia and not just the Malays. So far, Sanusi and Samsuri only know how to speak for the Malays but not the non-Malays, so how can either of them qualify yet?” the pundit said.
Pas had won a record 49 seats and is now a credible government-in-waiting despite its radical, even extremist political stance as Malays, who form the largest bloc of voters in the country, rooted for it instead of Umno and Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s PKR party.
The controversial Sanusi is also the Kedah chief minister while Samsuri Mokhtar is the Terengganu chief minister. Shahidan Kassim is the Arau MP who joined Pas after falling out with other top leaders in Umno.
The amazing explosion in Sanusi and Samsuri’s popularity came after their political strategies yielded unprecedented and beyond-all-expectations results for their party.
Indeed, the wheels of fortune have turned in Pas’ favor and it is now the biggest and most influential Malay political party in the country, winning the most seats of any single party in the federal Parliament and controlling four of the country’s 14 states.
ANNUAR – OVERCONFIDENCE LED TO HIS DOWNFALL
Zahid (left), Annuar (right)
As for Annuar, who was most vociferous and brash of the three, perhaps his fate might now be the coldest.
Annuar had lost out to Ismail Sabri, his Umno colleague who took over as PM after Muhyiddin was forced to surrender the post after a series of bungles in a brief stint marked by underwhelming performance.
And last year, when Zahid chose to form a unity government with Anwar Ibrahim instead of maintaining the Umno alignment with Muhyiddin’s PN coalition, which includes Pas, Annuar lost ‘everything’.
CUTTING OLD TIES, LEARNING NEW TRICKS – CAN ANWAR’S OWN LITTLE NAPOLEONS FARE AS WELL?
The former Ketereh MP was not only expelled for openly agitating Umno members to revolt against the Zahid decision, he was forced to join Pas to keep his political career alive. So too was his colleague Shahidan Kassim, another former Umno minister who was dropped as a candidate in last year’s general election,
Shahidan and Annuar – tired faces?
And although Annuar may never admit it, chances are if he could, he would still rather be in Umno. The party not only gave him his political roots but the chance to make his money and establish himself. Still, Annuar should count himself lucky to be in the ‘new’ Pas.
“Of course he cannot throw his weight around like he did in Umno because he is a ‘junior’ in Pas and they have their own culture and system,” a Pas watcher told Politics Now!
“But it’s not too bad to be named No. 2 to Sanusi even though Annuar’s older and has more experience because Sanusi and Samsuri are seen to be the future of Pas. Either one of them will be Pas’ prime minister candidate but not Annuar or Shahidan.
Lest those who now walk the corridors of power be tempted to smirk at Annuar and Shahidan, it won’t be long before they too face the same stark reality as Lady Luck casts her smile else in Malaysia’s political arena.
Once swept into power, Malaysian politicos always tend to forget their roots, where they came from and how they got there.
Indeed, Anwar looks set to have the shortest term and worst legacy of all Malaysia’s prime ministers. Less than a year in power, his ministers, political secretaries and coterie of sycophants have already started pushing, shoving and bullying their critics.
It goes without saying that many will be happy to see the back of this pack of self-aggrandizing but substance-less lot. Once out of power, can they fare better than Annuar Musa and Shahidan?
Highly unlikely given their lack of skills – but as the saying goes, let karma show the way!
Written by Stan Lee, Politics Now!