Malaysia Elections: Old Whine in New Battle?

by April 11, 2018 0 comments

It’s the ultimate political game. Been played with variations since 4th century BC when Chanakya jerked the rug under the Nanda dynasty and installed Chandra Gupta as the ruler.

It’s just brand new for Malaysia. There are scams. And there are scams which create scams. Any politician with access to public funds can do the former. It takes a real seasoned hand to do the latter. The script is by now familiar in Indian politics. Mid way through a Governments term a high ranking minister, usually the no.2 suddenly gets infected with righteousness and accuses his boss the PM of high level corruption. In an impassioned plea to his boss he urges him to come clean for the sake of democracy. The government goes into extended paralysis for the next two years and all sorts of worms emerge from the woodwork. Accusations fly and the swords are out. The no.2 resigns and joins the opposition party. Elections are held. The ruling party gets wiped out and no. 2 emerges as the new PM.

VP Singh in India pulled it off quite successfully using the Bofors scandal. 40 years on, nobody still knows the truth of what happened during Bofors. Its sole purpose seemed to be just the unseating of a government. Cut to 2014. The 2G scam too had all the makings of a scam. Not the real 2G scam, whatever that is. But the scam of creating the 2G scam. The moment the CAG dropped the 176,000 crore figure the media trial was over. The ruling party collapsed a couple of years later, and three years after that a special court acquitted all the accused in the 2G scam and set them scot free. Nobody much talks of the 2G scam anymore however there is a caveat namely Dr Subramanium Swamy. Its sole purpose also seemed to be the unseating of a government.

Now to Malaysia, so far innocent in the fine art of creating a scam that creates a scam. Is Dr. Mahathir Mohammed, 92 year old challenger and former PM following the Indian political script of 1989 and 2014? To seasoned political analysts, the pattern of events in Malaysia since 2015 seems to suggest some mischief is a foot. Here is a brief chronology of events.

2003 – Dr. Mahathir Mohammed retires from politics as the longest serving Prime Minister of Malaysia. He puts his feet up in his farm at Langkawi with cows and horses, and looks forward to grooming his son Mukhriz Mahathir in politics.

2008 – 2013 Mukhriz serves as a deputy minister of international trade. Papa feels it’s time he does something bigger.

November 2013 – Mukhriz gets defeated in the elections of VP of UMNO the leading coalition partner of the ruling party. This shock defeat is ascribed to back channel strategy by PM Najib Razak.

2014 – Mahathir announces he has lost confidence in Najib.

July 2015 – Mahathir’s lieutenant and Attorney General Abdul Gani Patial publicly pronounces Najib Razak guilty of accepting 681 million dollars in the 1MDB scandal, the same day leaked documents were published in the Wall Street Journal.

Najib reels with the media onslaught and international outrage. With his own AG calling him guilty the trial by media is concluded, he is guilty as charged. In the hullabaloo many facts go unnoticed. The Saudi foreign minister gives a press conference stating that the money was sent by the Royal family to PM Najib in order to help him fight Islamic terrorists and that most of the money had been returned by Najib. BBC correspondent Frank Gardner with extensive connections to the Saudis confirms that this is indeed true. Nobody is prepared to believe this. Najib’s guilt seems to be firmly established. In a near fatal second blow Najib’s own deputy PM Muhyiddin Yassin speaks out against his boss, telling him to come clean.

All sorts of worms come out of the woodwork. Many facts surface in the 1MDB scam, some linked to Najib’s step son. US Department of Justice starts an enquiry. Media takes this as further rock solid proof of Najib’s guilt even though he was not the target of enquiry by DOJ or any other investigating agency worldwide. Najib fights back. He asks the Public Accounts Committee consisting of both ruling party members and opposition leaders to investigate. The committee deliberates and gives Najib a clean chit in 2016. Then former Deputy PM Yassin quietly joins Mahathir Mohammed’s camp and the two start off a new political party PPBM, whose sole purpose is to cleanse the Nation of Najib and of course come to power. It’s time for the final death blow to Najib and the knives are sharpened and ready.

Najib might still win, given his popularity and support of the Malaysian voters who seem be getting tired to Mahathirs daily whining. Mahathir is hoping the momentum of the 1MDB scandal and the Malaysian people’s inability to understand political strategy will work in his favour. To political analysts all over the world who are keenly watching this is the ultimate prize fight. For the next month or so, all eyes are on Malaysia.

Writer Sudheer Mopperthy is Far East countries expert, views expressed are personal opinion.

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