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12/01/2022
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Swept out by floods: politicians’ election plans

By Kuik Cheng Kang, Sin Chew Daily

The controversy surrounding the issue of MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki letting his brother purchase company shares with his account is gaining momentum, and this only shows that our senior government officials are in severe dearth of crisis management awareness, allowing the fire to burn out of control.

If these top officials or leaders continue to handle a crisis the way they used to do, they will only be sending the organizations they lead to disaster.

Malaysians are becoming increasingly demanding in their expectations for the government, some better informed of the laws than even government leaders and more willing to speak up fearlessly.

As such, when a crisis emerges, if our prime minister or ministers don’t even have the slightest common sense or basic knowledge, talking only rubbish and failing to seriously look at the problem at hand, they will invariably subject themselves to online ridicules and attacks.

Even as the rakyat’s call for change and progress is getting louder, many of our parliamentarians are still thinking in the 1970s way, as they attempt to run 21st century Malaysia with their antiquated mindsets.

As a result, no cabinet reshuffle is going to bring about any real change. If our leaders have lost their ways, don’t know how to take care of the country and her people or solve our many problems, thinking only about their own interests and how they can garner more support by playing up racial and religious issues, many innocent Malaysians are destined to keep suffering.

It is indeed a tall order to get PM Ismail Sabri to pick the top-grade Aomori apple from a basket of rotten apples.

We have heard of rumors of cabinet reshuffle over the past one week, and they are not totally unsubstantiated.

Reshuffling the cabinet has always been the prerogative of the prime minister. That said, cramped among three conflicting forces, our prime minister has lost his absolute say. He might have to endure the pressure to sustain his administration until his term expires next year.

Ismail is right now a sandwiched man!

The first overhanging force comes from his party’s president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and a Bossku of significant clout. Both these two Big Brothers have their own political agendas, and they absolutely have the say when it comes to reshuffling the cabinet and fixing an election date.

The second force, meanwhile, comes from Muhyiddin Yassin, whom Ismail Sabri must not offend if he wants to remain in power and ensure the stability of his government. So, like it or not, the Bersatu president has to be consulted before the PM decides on his new cabinet line-up.

Last but not least, without the support of PAS, Ismail’s administration will never be rock solid. As a third force that commands a lot of power in the political equation, the Islamist party’s president Hadi Awang has put it very frankly that the existing cabinet has been doing very well and a cabinet reshuffle is therefore unnecessary.

And since PAS has made its intention known, Ismail may have to think twice before making changes to his cabinet.

To be honest, there are plenty in the current cabinet who do more harm than good to the government’s image, with only a handful who really work and are competent. Given such disparity in the quality of our ministers, cabinet reshuffle is simply necessary.

But sadly, there aren’t many good picks for the PM in the parliament. Putting up a cabinet that the rakyat yearn to see could be a very tough job for him.

Ismail said lately that it’s not the best time now to reshuffle the cabinet, but to focus on helping the flood victims and tackling the virus.

Indeed, the floods have messed up the plans of some people.

From what we’ve come to know, seeking a royal pardon has not been the priority of Najib Razak at this moment, while a party election may not actually save him.

According to a source, although the PM is the man with the final say in picking the election date, bear in mind that this weak government with the support of only 114 elected reps will collapse in no time if Najib and his gang said to be more than eight decide to withdraw their support, making a general election the only option available.

After the Court of Appeal threw out Najib’s appeal last December, he and his team admitted they couldn’t pin too much hope on the Federal Court. Najib’s only way out, which must be pursued sooner than later, is to put himself back at the core of power, and an early GE15 is almost his only option now.

Sure enough Najib’s rivals are not going to let him have an easy ride to Putrajaya, and they are poised to bring up the “nationally embarrassing” issue to unseen levels come the next election. Indeed, the “national embarrassment” remark by the Appeal Court justice is as good as a “political doom” for the former PM.

But to him, a day he is not put behind bars is a day he will keep fighting.

In reality, things don’t always work out as planned. If not for the December floods, the parliament could have been dissolved by now, paving the way for a March election.

After the landslide wins in Melaka and Sarawak elections, Ahmad Zahid, Najib and their BN warriors have wanted to ride on the electoral success to push for an early election to mow down Pakatan Harapan, in particular PKR which did not win a seat in the two elections.

Unfortunately, the unexpected floods have swept away BN’s advantage while pushing the people’s wrath through the ceiling.

With the government’s poor showing in handling the floods, people’s woes and the pandemic, it is almost impractical to hold the election in March.

From what we know, the next earliest election date currently under review could be May after Raya, not July as earlier thought.

Umno’s hawkish faction has already started its deployment exercise, including identifying suitable candidates for strategic constituencies.

From what we know, Negeri Sembilan will be one of the party’s frontline states, and if deputy president Mohamad Hasan decides to move his battleground from state to parliament, he will most likely run in Rembau, as he is also the divisional chairman there. However, this will also mean the incumbent, health minister Khairy Jamaluddin, may have to go elsewhere.

We have also been tipped that Umno is planning to recapture Kuala Pilah from Bersatu, with a Malay elite senator appointed during Muhyiddin’s time being the most likely candidate. Nevertheless, it is understood that many in the party will not like to see a newly transplanted member to contest the election. The attitude of Umno grassroots will determine how winnable this businessman-turned-politician candidate will be in Kuala Pilah, now held by Bersatu’s Eddin Syazlee.

Although both Umno and Bersatu are still inside the same government, it is impossible for these two parties to work together again.

Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin has vowed not to let the thieves helm the power. If the party can’t fight it alone, it is not altogether impossible for it to team up with the opposition before the election.

Meanwhile, there is no guarantee that PAS will remain always faithful to PN, and may very much go back to Muafakat Nasional alongside Umno.

A highly opportunist party, PAS is slowly eating up the fundamental support bases of both Umno and Bersatu while firming up its influences in the government, for some long-term ulterior motives. As long as the party remains in the government, it will gradually alter the country’s secular environment towards its ultimate goal of a true Islamic state and becoming the Malay society’s primary choice by taking out both Umno and Bersatu.

We have come to learn that if PAS has decided to go back to MN, it is expected to adopt a strategy of working with Umno in parliamentary elections but going solo in state elections.

As for Pakatan Harapan, the alliance remains only in name as a matter of fact. While PKR has wanted component parties to adopt the party’s logo in the election, DAP is more inclined to using its own “rocket” logo. Apparently they all have lost faith in the PH banner!

More importantly, PH has lost its ability to excite the voters. No one can see how Anwar will bring PH back to life again.

In the meantime, Parti Warisan Sabah which has decided to set up its operation here in West Malaysia, has just teamed up with Syed Saddiq’s MUDA, and this is anticipated to impact the existing political landscape on the peninsula.

These two multiracial, multireligious and multicultural parties will join the race in urban areas, meaning DAP and PKR will be the first to feel the pinch.

During my lunch meeting with Warisan’s Shafie Apdal on December 15, he told me assertively he would not work with any race-based parties, and was prepared to work with Syed Saddiq to create a non-racial and non-religious political culture for the country. None of DAP, PKR, Umno, Bersatu or Pejuang would make a potential partner.

The Malaysian political landscape has seen earth-moving changes after two general elections. One-party system has officially become history. In addition to BN, PN, PH, Gabungan Rakyat Sabah and Sarawak’s GPS, new alliances may pop up ahead of GE15, and these alliances will likely use the seats they win to make post-election bargains.

That will make Malaysian politics thereafter anything but predictable.

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Ismail Sabri
najib
GE15
KUIK CHENG KANG

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