Many believe the old man cunningly planned this from the start… if he had he ought to have had a better plan. Instead of running around like a headless chicken he would by now be presiding over a powerful government led by him.
Mahathir allowed this mess to develop around a myriad of overlapping plots as he gave ear to ‘Malay unity’ proposals that all fawningly suggested himself as the leading figure continuing to head the government in defiance of his commitment when running for office.
It plainly got to the old man’s head, frustrated by the demands of parliamentary democracy within a coalition government after years of previously ruling with the luxury of strongman status at the head of UMNO.
But then the rebels pushed matters into action, thanks to desperados who needed the power shift to happen, and he lost control. He realised he was handing the show back to Najib and put on the brakes. This was less of a cunning plan than age beginning to show.
He thought to repair the situation in a manner that flattered himself and gave him the total power to run Malaysia as he believes he knows best – the good old fashioned way (fake democracy and strongman rule).
After all, the national relief when he announced he wouldn’t immediately resign but return on an ‘interim’ basis gave him renewed strength – or so he thought. The ‘interim’ part of his proposals was soon abandoned as within just a day he astonished his long-suffering political allies by announcing that his continuing prime ministership would not represent a return to party based democracy, but over a ‘Unity Government’ appointed from all parties and made up of people directly owing allegiance only to him.
To rub in this dictatorial agenda, he told the leaders of the biggest parties they should not expect to be in that government, rather he as a minority party leader would choose a rag bag of cabinet colleagues, many of them the political enemies of his erstwhile allies in Pakatan Harapan.
Mahathir plainly thought he could get away with it, such was the national horror over the prospect of a collapse of government. However, when he arrived at the palace this morning to cement his planned intentions with an announcement from the King, Sarawak Report understands that he found others had different plans.
The King has been counting numbers. Sarawak Report among others is led to understand that the leader with the most numbers supporting him by far is Anwar Ibrahim. Therefore, as the constitution demands and the King was doubtless forced to explain, it is incumbent on the King to give Anwar Ibrahim the opportunity to form a new government and not the sometime resigning, sometime not resigning ‘interim’ old man.
One reason we know that this was the message Mahathir received is because he left the palace without being in a position to announce his Unity Government, which he had plainly planned to do. That alone could mean only one thing, which is that he had received the above message loud and clear from the monarch.
The confirmation of the King’s position is likely to come after he meets the Council of Rulers tomorrow and then it will most likely be up to Anwar Ibrahim to demonstrate in Parliament that he can move to command a majority and therefore succeed as 8th PM, as was promised by the winning PH coalition to the electorate before GE14.
The story will have moved on from Mahathir and would be unlikely to swing back his way.
This certainly explains the mad frenzy of activity by the old man this afternoon. His sudden and inappropriate announcement about what the King said on the King’s behalf gave a spin that suited him but ought surely to have annoyed the palace.
He was plainly seeking to imply that he would be the one given the opportunity to form his proposed unity government when the real announcement is made, rather than the man who has the support of most MPs.
The next hours were then spent spewing out extraordinary promises and announcements about spending billions – from a man who has yet to re-form a government.
Hard on the heels of these statements the old man this evening sallied forth again and astonished everyone with a new threat that he will back Bersatu boss Muhyiddin to be prime minister instead of Anwar (as promised yet again just Friday if people can remember that far) unless PH obey him like good children and join his unity government.
Unfortunately till recently a very sick man, Muhyiddin is possibly the only person in parliament with a shorter remaining life expectancy than Mahathir himself.
This is dysfunctional behaviour and sadly an icon of Malaysia seems to have all but lost the plot. Few political careers end in anything but tears and despite all efforts to give Mahathir the dignity he deserves it seems the same must now be said for this one.
Malaysians deserve genuine stability, the end to permanent transition, the return of parliamentary democracy and the fulfilment of promises made at the election. Mahathir is no longer in a position to deliver.
It is time to pass on the baton.