Muhyiddin’s bruising ride to the top
KUALA LUMPUR (The Star/ANN) - A new Prime Minister will be sworn in by today, but the political drama is likely to go on because the other side is claiming that they also have the numbers.
THE mood at Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Bukit Damansara house was upbeat upon his return from the Palace at around 4pm yesterday.
He had returned with good news – he was able to show that he had the numbers and the King had invited him to be the next prime minister.
Even then, some of those around him were restrained in their celebration.
The dizzying roller-coaster ride of the past week had taught them that things can change in the blink of an eye.
They only breathed a little easier when at about 4.30pm, the Palace’s decision was officially announced.
Even the official press release from the Palace seemed to recognise the fluid state of affairs when it acknowledged Muhyiddin as “the one most likely to have received the trust of the majority of MPs”.
It has been a heart-stopping couple of days for the Bersatu president ever since he decided to go for the Prime Minister post and especially when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad declared yesterday morning that he had changed his mind and was also offering himself as the prime minister candidate.
It was another stunning turn of events in the craziest week in Malaysian politics.
The final stretch is often the most slippery and Dr Mahathir’s change of heart sent a chill through the leaders of various political parties who had gathered at Muhyiddin’s house in preparation for his audience with the King.
Dr Mahathir’s renewed bid for the premiership set off a tide of rumours that Muhyiddin’s support from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Warisan was wobbling.
These two parties were seen as king-makers and Muhyiddin would be in trouble if Sabah and Sarawak did not come along.
Fortunately, Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg allayed their anxiety when he indicated that his group was willing to support any coalition but that he was not keen on leaders who keep changing their minds.
GPS’ problem with Pakatan is DAP. There is a lot of bad blood there and Abang Johari has yet to forgive DAP for claiming that Sarawak would be bankrupt “in three years’ time”.
Warisan was harder to read and its president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal has yet to indicate where he stands.
It is learnt that two MPs from Amanah have also been talking to Muhyiddin.
It is still unclear what sort of numbers Muhyiddin presented to the King. He will have to show his cards in the coming days to prove that he commands the majority in Parliament.
This is important because the Pakatan side also claims to have the numbers and has gone back to backing Dr Mahathir for the top job.
It has been a long and winding road, but Muhyiddin has finally reached the pinnacle of his career.
He not only pipped Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for the coveted post, but he also outmanoeuvred Dr Mahathir.
It would have been a very satisfying moment for him were it not for the fact that his own Bersatu party is now split between him and Dr Mahathir.
His deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir and Youth chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman are not with him.
Muhyiddin’s faction is bigger, but Dr Mahathir’s supporters are fanatical in their adoration for him.
The country is deeply divided and the Prime Minister’s seat, which has always been known as the hot seat, will be even hotter after what has happened.
Muhyiddin’s immediate priority is the economy, but his biggest problem will be none other than Dr Mahathir himself.
Dr Mahathir is a dangerous man when he is angry and there is no telling what he may do to exact revenge.
The elder man still believes that he has the numbers to be Prime Minister and he truly wanted to implement his unity government idea.
The Chinese have a saying that when you ride a tiger, you cannot get off or else you will be mauled and devoured.
Muhyiddin rode the old but still ferocious tiger into Putrajaya. He has now dismounted, but he has to watch his back.
Most of all, Muhyiddin is leading what some have slammed as a backdoor government. This means he comes in with quite limited goodwill.
His government will also be an almost purely bumiputra-dominated government that will come with its own set of problems in multi-racial Malaysia.
The image of politicians on both sides of the divide has been horribly battered in the fiasco of the past week.
In the eyes of the people, there are no more angels left in politics.
“We have truly become the laughingstock of the region, if not the world. We can only watch and remember their acts of valour or deceit, guided by principle or perversion, and when the time comes at the next general election, vote accordingly.
“Until then, the rakyat are mere spectators to the show, ” said entrepreneur Datuk Mohd Omar Mustapha.
The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.