UMNO leader Zahid Hamidi best articulated the strategy just last week, when caught out confiding that the planned ‘Confidence Vote’ and new coalition to back Mahathir against his own party and the public who voted him into office was the best way to “solve Najib’s problems”.
He might have added his own ‘problems’, since he is facing numerous charges for gross corruption himself, along with the ‘problems’ of numerous colleagues now in opposition as well as the ‘problems’ of the former ‘First Lady’ who is now finally in court over just one incident relating to her record of rapaciousness – in this case she was (allegedly) happy to plunge the school children of Sarawak into darkness and destroy their limited educational opportunites by stealing their electricity money. Sarawak Report broke that story just after the election.
These charming folk, with their backs up against the wall, see their best chance in wriggling out of their due punishment through the further abuse of power (their remaining seats) and money – ‘anything that is legal’ as the chairman of the ‘religious’ party PAS himself so delicately put it this week.
If only we could be confident that these folk would stick to legal means since their records point abudantly otherwise – bribery for political favours IS illegal as some possibly need reminding.
The scheme is hardly rocket science, after all no one would accuse these goons of super-intelligence.
It is to gather up the opposition parties, who at the last election proved that narrow sectarian nationalism drenched in blatant corruption could not win a majority, and join them with ambitious malcontents in PKR to promise the transitional prime minister their support till the next election.
By which time, they calculate, the electorate will have become so fed up and disillusioned with the broken promises such an arrangement would entail, it will vote back the likes of Zahid and Hadi (Azmin would have to do as told) who will promptly let Najib and Rosmah and all the other crooks back out of jail to fleece everyone for evermore (they will take greater care to crack down properly second time round).
So, can these desperadoes cobble a majority of MPs to pass their ‘Confidence Vote’ scheme to over-turn the PH manifesto promise on transition, perhaps by persuading enough embarrassed toadies of the prime minister to abstain?
More importantly, would the prime minister, who knows full well he was voted into power thanks to his solemn pledge to release his former deputy from jail to take over the mantle within two years, see fit to renege on such a promise to the people of Malaysia?
Not entirely unsurprisingly, Mahathir has spent the past year and three quarters playing all these groups off against one another, allowing suspicions to flourish over his intentions. After all, his own party held only 9 seats in the winning coalition (since bulked out with UMNO frogs) and a prime minister wants to rule the roost.
Yet, it has been a damaging tactic and the nature of transition is uncertainty – above all it has given the desperadoes from BN and PAS what they see as their chance (between court appearances) to stir up discontent over broken promises, to throw money at ‘buy-elections’, political seduction and all the rest. If the credibility and effectiveness of this government can ultimately be disrupted by playing on leadership ambitions they hope the lot of them can make it back, skipping jail altogether.
Playing his usual games the prime minister has quipped that the outcome will indeed ultimately rest on how MPs vote, having himself acknowledged once again his own promises to retire and dependence on his coalition partners. So, how would the cookie crumble over such a ‘Confidence Vote’?
The better half of UMNO appear to be resisting the subterfuge, preferring to take the time out of office to rebuild and presumably reform under new leaderships. PAS has already lost its own decent half to Amanah. GPS is also riven, but the half who are causing trouble will side with Taib, who will side with Mahathir, depending on what Mahathir does.
DAP have remained solid, so interestingly, as before, much of the issue lies with the malcontents of PKR and what their numbers amount to. One wonders how many of those who have pledged their support to Azmin against his boss will find forgiveness from their own voters if they agree to join a proposed ‘Malay supremacist coalition’ comprising Hadi’s PAS, UMNO and Bersatu that lets the likes of Najib and Rosmah off the hook? Or have they been promised such riches that they might not care?
PKR has already decided it can afford to lose the chief amongst these cheerleaders. Vice President Zuraida Kamaruddin surrendered her post last week having refused to comply with disciplinary proceedings for seeking to discredit her party boss (after months of doing her best to undermine him in every way).
At issue was Zuraida’s public statement that Anwar had allegedly confided to her that he believed bedroom videos that have circulated Malaysia did indeed depict Azmin, despite Anwar having publicly welcomed a statement by the authorities that the matter was unproven and would not be pursued.
Whilst seeking to get the matter dropped Zuraida purportedly later proposed to dish information on Azmin in return – a kind offer that the PKR leadership is said to have wisely decided to decline. Zuraida assuredly denies the suggestion that she did, yet either way, she is on a journey out of PKR providing one more likely vote for the ‘Confidence Motion’, but leaving a decidedly unattractive path for the rest of the 15 alleged potential supporters of Azmin to follow.
The situation as it stands, therefore, leaves a configuration of around 130 votes against knifing Anwar’s pledged transition and around 90 plus in favour of the ‘Confidence Vote’ maneouvre – with the latter figure relying on an assumption that the prime minister and his direct supporters in Bersatu and allies in GPS would themselves vote for it, which actually seems unlikely.
In the UK the Conservatives won a recent landslide playing on frustrations after three years of Brexit uncertainly. Their slogan? Get Brexit Done. A series of by-election defeats is sending a similar message back within Malaysia, where Get Transition Done is beginning to seem the only clean solution to the problem of unfulfilled promises.
The prison dodgers and money politics purveyors look to be clutching at straws and if they lose this confidence vote that they themselves devised, they will have only served to strengthen the message that it is time to move on as promised to the interim prime minister, who has always made clear he took office to get one job done.
That job was to put Najib in jail along with the other worst offenders in Malaysia’s most corrupted ever government.