Rais Hussin, the PPBM Supreme Council member who is often referred to as the party’s chief strategist, has become the latest casualty in the shadow play of PPBM politics.
Rais had said that Pakatan Harapan (PH) could lose if the general election is held now, given its unfulfilled promises of reforms.
“We will refer this to the disciplinary committee and the disciplinary committee will prepare a report to the PPBM Supreme Council for it to take action,” said PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad last week.
When one falls out of favour, the response from political masters to the alleged infraction can be swift and brutal. Whether there is truth to Rais’ assessment appears unimportant. The immediate thing to do is to act against the messenger of such bad news and ensure that any unhappiness is quickly nipped in the bud.
Never mind the fact that what Rais said is what people on the ground are already aware of. In legal parlance, we say that the fraternity has taken judicial notice of the fact. Res ipsa loquitur.
Rais, like many other supporters of PH, is dismayed at the government for its indifference towards the people over many issues. No surprise then that Mahathir’s approval rating has also slumped in tandem with the feelings of despair, disappointment and disillusionment.
Mahathir could continue to rely on the support of sycophants and ministers who are beholden to him, as well as political hangers-on. There are plenty of them.
But outside these circles, it remains to be seen how much political support he really enjoys, especially when it comes to the crunch to determine the continued legitimacy of his leadership.
The Rais episode is by no means a significant national development. But in the light of the many political missteps and indiscretions by Mahathir, coupled with the new spirit of tolerance supposed to be exemplified by the PM himself under the new government, this move only serves to bring further disrepute to his leadership.
Two MPs from the ruling coalition, Charles Santiago and Wong Chen, have expressed their complete agreement with Rais. There are also others within PPBM and other PH component parties who share the sentiments expressed by Rais.
Even Muhyiddin Yassin does not appear to be on the same page as Mahathir on this matter.
Meanwhile, Anwar Ibrahim and Lim Kit Siang are watching developments very closely. They know too well but are measured and circumspect in their response to keep alive the spirit of consensus with the PM and his party PPBM.
We expect more and more voices of dissent within PH to be heard in the months ahead as Mahathir tries to strengthen his political position.
Will he show less accommodation and tolerance when he is challenged and pressed into a corner?
Will he show less tolerance for discordant voices even from his own PPBM? What about to the likes of his own media adviser, A Kadir Jasin?
There have been several occasions when the media adviser’s voice of reason has been discordant with that of his political master.
As PH’s partners start to feel the pressure for change from the people, the coalition’s unity will be put to test.
There are too many variables to consider in the present political dynamics. In the end, it may come down to a simple choice between having to save a PM or save the coalition for the next polls.
Mahathir is still upbeat about PH’s chances in a general election, based on the simplistic assumption that nobody wants Najib Razak to return to power.
But it is no longer about Najib – it is about whether or not Mahathir is the leader in disrepute.
It’s time for Mahathir to understand the sentiments of the people and to make the necessary changes to fulfil their expectations.
But knowing Mahathir and his penchant for doing things his own way by riding roughshod over other peoples’ views, will he change?
To many observers, Mahathir has been losing the plot of Malaysia Baru for quite some time now. But for a long while, it remained an unspoken truth as PH supporters hoped each case was a momentary political lapse.
But as more and more cases occur, it becomes obvious that our PM is losing not only the political plot of Malaysia Baru, but its subplot, script, narratives and soundtrack. He may be ignoring the many signs that it is time for him to make a gracious exit.
Malaysians want nothing more than a peaceful handover of power from Mahathir to Anwar Ibrahim.
Mahathir’s rich legacy as a statesman should be preserved and kept intact for us to cherish, without any blemish of an ignominious end for overstaying his welcome.
For whatever misgivings we may have about Mahathir, the fact remains that the people generally love and adore him.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.