Home  >  Opinion

Mahathir and Zahid's return

  • Against the backdrop of internal conflicts within PH, with the succession issue and Azmin Ali's sex video incident coming into picture, Umno's inclination and choice could have a tad effect on the final outcome.

By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily

As a matter of fact, the return of Ahmad Zahid is more than just the former DPM's personal will.

To make things simpler: it is a backlash from Umno against Tun Mahathir, and the party's design for post-Mahathir politics.

Let's start with Umno.

There are currently two different factions within Umno, one that advocates a normal relationship with the PH government and Mahathir in a bid to avert any heads-on clash, and another that opposes to it.

This faction is headed by deputy president Mohamad Hasan and Hishammuddin Hussein.

These people feel that Umno should for the time being refrain from waging a war against the government and should instead put its own house in order and rebuild the confidence of the people, in particular the Malay society, and gradually clean up the party's tarnished image.

They feel that Umno should not rush into recapturing Putrajaya but should face the reality and play its role well as opposition party.

As they have such a long term plan, the last thing they want is to offend Mahathir lest their revival plan will be affected.

This explains why Mohamad Hasan has been keeping in relatively low profile ever since he took over as acting president half a year ago, avoiding any possible clash with PH or Mahathir.

Under Hasan's leadership, Umno won three by-elections. Although this does not mean Umno is back in full force again, at least the party has delivered itself out of its worst.

This should have been a good thing for Umno. Mohamad Hasan has shed the burden and his roadmap apparently works. He should be allowed to continue helming Umno.

But the thing is, recent moves by Mahathir have got on the nerves of some of Umno's more hardline leaders.

Firstly, MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya filed civil forfeiture applications against 41 individuals and entities to recover RM270 million of 1MDB money. Of this total, Umno accounted for RM212 million.

This money was disbursed to Umno divisions and branches over the past few years mainly for election expenses, and it is impossible for the party to return the money now.

Of course, given Umno's wealth, it is still possible to come up with the money anyway but the thing is, Umno's assets have been distributed among the funds, individuals and entities that should not be publicly disclosed or the party will risk serious political and legal consequences in future.

That said, Umno could be de-registered and could lose its assets if it fails to return the RM212 million.

Umno leaders believe this is Mahathir's ultimate goal.

As if that is not enough, Ahmad Zahid has 40 more court cases to face.

To Ahmad Zahid, this is like forcing him to a corner.

He might think that his earlier “garden leave” as a form of goodwill and submission would be well reciprocated by Mahathir, but the prime minister's latest move has completely shattered his dream, forcing him to come back as party president and fight the battle.

These two factors have given Umno's hardliners an upper hand such that Ahmad Zahid can make a smooth comeback without much resistance from within the party.

Apparently Ahmad Zahid's style is not the same as Mohamad Hasan's. He will give Mahathir more pressure.

Strategically, his priority is to get Umno back in Putrajaya as soon as possible.

Even if PH continues to rule, it will be much better for anyone else to become PM other than Mahathir.

Among the top leaders of Umno, most are inclined to work with Mahathir with a handful more inclined to work with Anwar Ibrahim, including Ahmad Zahid.

But with Ahmad Zahid now back in charge, he will do everything to change this equation.

Against the backdrop of internal conflicts within PH, with the succession issue and Azmin Ali's sex video incident coming into picture, Umno's inclination and choice could have a tad effect on the final outcome.

Copyright © 2019 Sin Chew Media Corporation Berhad (98702-V).
All rights reserved. Contact us : [email protected]