While the entire country remains focused on the battle against Covid-19 and the stark and sad truth of its consequences, there could be another type of infection at work well below the radar of most people, except those watching political developments in the country and the manoeuvring that is taking place by ambitious power brokers.
Covid-19 has shown that no one is safe from the virus, not even royalty, presidents and prime ministers. Such was the case with Prince Charles and Boris Johnson.
While they have successors, what about Malaysia?
With no clear line of succession in place, could open warfare emerge where the winners will want to take all? Already, silently and stealthily, PAS, which forms the next biggest bloc of MPs after Umno in the Perikatan Nasional government, is eyeing the spoils of war with a proposal for all MPs, including those from PAS who are not in government, to head government-linked companies (GLCs).
This is clearly to buy the loyalty of MPs who are unhappy about being overlooked for ministerial and deputy ministerial posts. Heading GLCs should appease these MPs because of the perks and financial rewards that come with it, regardless of the fact that the majority of Malaysians are struggling to survive and make ends meet at present.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and senior PAS leader Takiyuddin Hassan has already proposed such a move. Has this been done to reassure all unhappy MPs of what bounty awaits them for their loyalty? At the same time, is this Takiyuddin’s plan to gauge public response to this move? Maybe yes, maybe no.
Transparency International-Malaysia president Mohammad Mohan has stated that the “government should be able to appoint anyone it wants, provided that the person is clean, qualified and goes through a screening process”. But by whom?
What is the benchmark you must use to determine if a person is “clean and qualified”? What is the rule of thumb you must apply for determining who is “clean”?
Even being “qualified” is pretty subjective, in my opinion, unless you are talking specifically about one’s academic qualifications relevant to being the head of a particular GLC.
Who will judge and assess such MPs is another matter. If it is purely for patronising purposes, you need not justify the appointment at all. It becomes nothing more than a meaningless exercise. Just go ahead and appoint those ordinary MPs because you need their support.
But before you do that, bear in mind that unless you want to tango with Umno, you will be nothing more than a statistic in the battle that could be looming ahead.
The coveted prize of prime minister should logically go to the party with most MPs. Who can forget the bold claim by former prime minister Najib Razak that “We have the numbers” when the PN government was being installed. Who exactly is “we”? Why was Najib sounding so authoritative despite being out in the cold? That has never been explained.
And although Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has stated that Mohamed Azmin Ali will chair in his absence, Azmin simply does not have the numbers to upstage Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the president of Umno.
By a stroke of luck, everything appears to have fallen on to the lap of Zahid and Umno, who can count on the support of PAS. It is, therefore, safe to say that as of now, Umno and PAS hold the aces.
MIC and MCA will surely back this alliance. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing so.
For the rest of the parties in the PN government, they will remain as “side orders” only as part of the main meal. Nothing more than that.
In time to come, we could well see Umno and PAS take over the reins of government. It is not a question of how but when.
Only time will tell.
Clement Stanley is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.
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