KUALA LUMPUR: Mukhriz Mahathir’s imminent downfall in Kedah following yesterday’s defection has been described as the “final political humiliation” for the son of the former prime minister.
Party members recall, many jokingly in private conversations sighted by FMT, how the outgoing Kedah menteri besar gave advice on survival skills to the Johor PPBM leadership following the political change in the southern state after the collapse of Pakatan Harapan (PH).
“Is there anything I can shed light on about the current political situation?” Mukhriz said to Johor PPBM leaders two weeks ago.
“I can explain how Kedah PPBM can still hold on. Like in Parliament, the number of seats determines who forms the state. So even though I do not support Perikatan Nasional (which actually does not even exist), PPBM is still part of the (state) government due to the strong consensus with PH. And PH agrees that I remain the menteri besar,” he wrote in one of a series of messages in a chat group with Johor party leaders.
In another piece of advice to the Johor leadership, Mukhriz claimed there had been repeated attempts by Perikatan Nasional (PN), the federal coalition that took power from PH in March, to coax “our assemblymen to jump over”.
“But so far, the efforts have been in vain. Until when? Not sure,” he added.
A party insider said Mukhriz’s messages had come in handy for those aligned with Muhyiddin Yassin, the PPBM president whom Mukhriz is taking on in the coming party polls.
“It was a convenient tool to show that one of the poster boys of PPBM’s pro-PH faction has suffered yet another humiliation at the hands of his own allies,” the PPBM member, who is close to the inner circle of the Malay party’s leadership in Kedah, told FMT.
Mukhriz’s two-year rule in Kedah was effectively brought to an end by the announcement yesterday by two PKR assemblymen of their support for Muhyiddin and his PN government.
One of his former aides described the development as a “haunting deja vu” in his short political career which began with his involvement in Umno over a decade ago.
“Both times his MB post was threatened, it had to do with his father’s stand on the central leadership,” the former aide told FMT.
“Not only will he lose power twice due to this, he was also abandoned by his allies many times.”
Four years ago, Mukhriz as the Kedah menteri besar under Umno’s rule lost the confidence of his party men, as his father Dr Mahathir Mohamad built up pressure against then-prime minister Najib Razak to step down over the 1MDB affair.
Three weeks after Mukhriz’s fall, Mahathir himself quit Umno.
This is the second time Mukhriz has found himself under pressure to resign.
The junior Mahathir has never been popular, even among his current allies in PH who made his father a rallying point to win the 2018 election.
To drive home the point, Mukhriz’s critics distributed a letter by Kedah PKR chairman Johari Abdul, nominating PAS assemblyman Muhamad Sanusi Md Nor for the menteri besar’s post on the heels of the federal change of power in March.
“But even more damaging than that is what the then-president of PKR herself did after PH’s victory in Kedah in 2018,” the source said, showing FMT a letter from Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to the Kedah sultan two days after the May 9 general election.
In that letter, Wan Azizah named Johari as PKR’s choice for the menteri besar post, claiming her party had won 18 of the 36 seats.
“This was despite the fact that many others including PPBM candidates had no choice but to use the PKR logo for the election,” said the source.
“Clearly, Mukhriz was never the first choice whenever there was an opening for him to come to power in Kedah.
“He was dumped by Umno in 2016, spurned twice by PKR in 2018 and 2020, and has now lost support from the assemblymen.”
Yet, until a fortnight ago, Mukhriz was still giving survival tips to his PPBM peers.
“I would like to propose that Johor PPBM return to PH in entirety. The PPBM-PH majority would be bigger than the current PPBM-Umno majority,” he wrote in a late-night message to state party leaders.
“PPBM will return to hold the Johor MB’s post. Use the period before the 15th general election to strengthen our position in villages and towns. Increase quality members.
“The machinery must be trained and spirited. Must be hemoi,” he said, using a term in the northern dialect which means “thick-skinned”.
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