Written by Wong Choon Mei, Politics Now!

KUALA LUMPUR (Politics Now!) – Like his broad grin and droopy eyes or not, Umno president Zahid Hamidi is perhaps the most savvy politician in Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s government today. 

And as proof that he is, Zahid has heard the clamor for him to step down – whether as Umno president, Deputy Prime Minister or both. 

The Member of Parliament for Bagan Datuk in Perak state for more than 20 years, Zahid has sort of ‘out of the blue’ volunteered a hint that he was ready to retire. But of course, this came with the usual caveats and exits that he could use to make U-turns as and when the now cloudy skies turn bright again for him.

“I am now at the end of my service as MP, but before that, I want to see Bagan Datuk develop and progress. At least for Bagan Datuk to be number one in Perak when it comes to education,” Malay-language daily Berita Harian reported him as saying. 

When reporters tried to pin down if he meant he would not defend his seat in the next general election, which must be held by mid-2027, Zahid smoothly sidestepped their questions. 

“We will have the 16th general election, 17th general election and 18th general election… So let’s wait for the suitable time,” said Zahid. He did not elaborate and he didn’t have to.

Firstly, breaking promises and spewing meaningless, hot gas-type of rhetoric is the norm in Malaysia’s hyper-active political arena.

Secondly, who would believe he would really leave unless the pressure was truly insurmountable or he found himself cornered – totally outmanoeuvred without an inch of space to wriggle free.

Still, the 70-year-old Zahid has done well for himself even though his party may have suffered. Despite the worst performance in Umno’s electoral history, Zahid still managed to get himself back into the Deputy PM slot as well as grab a clutch of senior Cabinet portfolios to feed the party’s hungry ‘warlords’.

Most importantly, Zahid has secured a discharge for himself from the dozens of corruption charges levelled at him – unlike his former boss and ex-premier Najib Razak, who has to stay in jail for 12 years unless he secures an early royal pardon.


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Zahid, as he skips deftly here and there to avoid by razed by Malaysia’s unpredictable and fiery political temperatures, could teach his good pal Anwar a trick or two.

Unlike Zahid, the 76-year-old Anwar seems to be a bit hard of hearing – oblivious to the rising din of his own unpopularity and the plummeting credibility of his ‘Madani’ unity government.

Calls for Anwar to give up the Finance Minister’s post that he gave himself or to step down as PM or both have fallen on deaf years. Stubbornly, Anwar has refused to make way for more qualified people to resuscitate Malaysia’s long-ailing economy and stop the ringgit’s freefall to historic lows, which is bound to trigger unprecendeted inflation in the months to come.

Shielded by a sycophantic media and an inner circle of Little Napoleon advisers, Anwar seems not to hear the mounting public criticisms including from respected royal figures at his overwhelming underperformance.

Calls for him to focus on his own country, which is Malaysia in case he has forgotten, and its multitude of problems that range across all fronts – social, economic and financial – are doggedly ignored.

Even the Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail, whose father the Johor Sultan is set to become the country’s next King on Jan 31, 2024, has described Anwar as “indecisive” and lacking in courage to undertake the tough reforms needed to wheel the nation out from the ICU and into the recovery ward.

The disappointment and dissatisfaction with Anwar is so palpable that it has given rise to speculation of a new super unity government led by a new prime minister – with both Zahid and Anwar dumped!


Hishammuddin (right) was suspended by Zahid (left) after allegedly trying to lead a group of Umno MPs to support Muhyiddin as PM over Anwar

Now, Zahid has heard the criticisms against himself and they come from all over the country. 

For him, the writing on the wall is clear – from within his own Umno party to the famous hint from Tunku Ismail that ‘some have to move out’ and over the weekend, even from his ex-boss Najib – whose supporters stridently called for Umno to realign with the main opposition pact PN to form a new federal government.

The shock call for a new alliance is by no means a ‘small’ move, as Anwar and his team of self-important and puffed-up ministers and political secretaries may choose to rate it. 

It was PN chief Muhyiddin Yassin, the 8th prime minister, who initiated the thawing of ties with Najib, who was jailed for corruption. And from the swiftness and warmth of the Najib response, it is clear Malaysia’s ever-volatile political ground has started shifting again.

Many pundits expect the pace to quicken, with Umno’s Hishammuddin Hussein who is also Najib’s cousin, seen as a frontrunner in the chase to become PM. 

Coincidentally or not, Hishammuddin, a former foreign as well as defense minister, is close to Muhyiddin but at odds with Zahid. 


Over the weekend, Perak’s Sultan Nazrin who is set to become the Deputy King issued a statement that among other things called for a stop to the ‘thoughts of conspiring to topple others’.

Not losing a moment, Anwar and his propaganda team swerved into action, with the media blaring out the headline as if to counter the critical remarks of the Johor prince, who had also said his father was keen to “restore order” and predicted “interesting times” ahead.

But even more telling was how Anwar’s media tried to keep as ‘low profile’ as possible what Sultan Nazrin also said about governments and politicians who do not hear the wishes of the populace and keep breaking their promises to the people. 

“Understanding the heartbeat and pulse of the people as well as the ability to intelligently define the various events happening throughout the country and around the world, as well as the ability to identify the real truth, is a heavy responsibility,” His Highness said on the occasion of his 67th birthday.

“The people should not continue to be left hoping, when promises are not fulfilled. The hopes of the people who want a government that is based on the law, with integrity, clear of corruption and does not abuse power, must be realized together.”

Guess who has been breaking election promises made to voters and drawing public outcry for doing next to nothing as the local currency crashed to historic lows amid a serious capital flight – opting to deflect attention to the Israel-Hamas war instead of confronting and marshalling resources to fight the slide in Malaysia’s economy? 

You got it – it’s Anwar and his team!

Written by Wong Choon Mei, Politics Now!

Politics Now!