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Under siege

  • Is Mahathir about to abandon Azmin by seeking support from outside PH to firm up his rule?

By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily

Several days ago, Azmin Ali was greeted with boos while delivering a speech during the Felda Settlers' Day in his capacity as economic affairs minister.

The situation came as a big embarrassment for Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad and other cabinet members present at the event.

I have no idea what Mahathir would think and whether his support for Azmin would be shaken.

Sure enough Azmin was not booed squarely because of the sex video scandal, as it could be due to the Felda settlers' disappointment with the PH government.

Whatever reason for the outburst, it has already dealt an additional blow on Azmin, putting him in a very unfavourable situation.

As the economic affairs minister, Azmin's performance is hardly commendable. In a sluggish national economy, his lacklustre performance has made him a liability to the PH government.

Political observers discover that Azmin has spent more time and effort in his ministry and public affairs only after the sex video scandal came into light.

On a personal front, Azmin and his camp have reiterated that he is innocent and has been framed by other people in the sex video scandal. However, they have failed to convince the public that he was not the guy in the video.

Actually no one is bothered so much about whether Azmin has been framed because in the cognition of many, this has become very much an integral part of Malaysia's political game.

As long as he cannot prove his innocence, his eligibility as a political leader will come under public scepticism.

The same charges were hurled at Anwar Ibrahim 20 years ago. The difference is that the public were overwhelmingly supporting Anwar back then, seeing him as the impersonation of justice in confronting the power to be.

And because of popular support, Anwar had been able to go on fighting with Mahathir and later Najib, at times even initiating massive rallies in support of him.

By comparison, Azmin looks so much more helpless and lonely, save the firm backing from Mahathir and his own camp.

Azmin's destiny to a very large extent depends on the outcome of police investigation. The longer the delay, the more difficult for him to get back to the normal political track.

As if that is not enough, Azmin's rivals do not seem to be contented just that. Haziq claimed that they not only had sex in Sandakan but elsewhere in the country, including luxury hotels in Kuching and Kuala Lumpur, and that he would show the videos if necessary.

Unhappy with the much delayed police investigation, Umno's Lokman vowed to take the video overseas for expert verification.

Time is not on Azmin or Mahathir's side. Azmin is no longer the most ideal candidate to succeed Mahathir, nor the best ally to fight the PM's rivals.

The prime minister has called for a grand unity among the Malays by accommodating Umno and PAS members.

Does this announcement hint that he is about to abandon Azmin and is trying to get the support from outside PH to firm up his rule?

Azmin is now under siege, and he only has three options now: to stay in PKR, but his strength will be continually eroded and he will lose his dominance in the party; to join PPBM, but the scandal-tainted leader may not be welcome by everyone in the party; or to form a new party, which some say is what he is actively doing now.

The question is: will he get enough supporters to go through the thick and thin with him and start everything afresh?

 

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