Parliamentary street fight the preamble to a new landscape?

The May 18 political showdown will no doubt be a grand spectacle for all Malaysians – a rematch, you might say, between the actors following the events that led to this unprecedented political turmoil.

But how is this different from the late-February battle? The motion of no confidence (should it even take place) will be conducted in the lower house, the Dewan Rakyat, which formalises such proceedings.

If the previous impasse was a week-long street fight with no clear rules and referees, this parliamentary battle will be an organised boxing match between opposing heavyweights complete with ring and glaring spotlights.

We must focus on the key issues at play here:

Firstly, is Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin really confident or even ready to take on the Mahathir-Pakatan Harapan (PH) clan? Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) razor-thin majority is surely a cause for concern. The ruling troops can strategise all they want but it takes only the stupidity of four of its MPs (such as going to the restroom during crucial voting proceedings) to bring about the collapse of this government. This, bear in mind, if the day is free from the art of political frogging.

Secondly, PH is still a coalition to be reckoned with – and a properly registered one, if I may add. But can it pull a fast one on Muhyiddin, against the power of the PM incumbency and outmanoeuvring his sound advisers? Is it capable of winning the hearts of the Malays considering that PPBM is no longer in the picture? Can it shake off DAP’s “bogeyman” image among those in the Malay heartlands?

PH is in a strange position. Should the motion against Muhyiddin be passed, who should be the ninth PM? If PH backs Anwar Ibrahim, it may not be able to obtain the required numbers (Mahathir’s rogue PPBM MPs). What about the alternative option? Is it ready for round two of Mahathir’s shenanigans as PM? Or is it still traumatised from what transpired earlier in the year?

Thirdly, does Mahathir have it in him to win another colossal battle? This is the man who has arguably brought down five prime ministers (himself included). Time and time again, political players have learned the hard way to never completely write off the grand old man. Hamzah Zainudin is said to have internally outwitted him a few months back, but that is for another day.

Fourthly, is it too late for Anwar to be PM? From what we have seen since his last prison release, it is clear that he no longer has that larger-than-life personality and following, the ability to move crowds and inspire legions of die-hard youth leaders. The man has many faults, but the biggest of them all (and the one that unwittingly prevented him from achieving his lifelong obsession) is his lack of ruthlessness. He does not know when to pull the political “trigger” – think 1996 (Mahathir), 2008 (GE13) and 2019 (Mohamed Azmin Ali).

Lastly, we must also look at other factors that could play significant roles on May 18. The Dewan Rakyat speaker is said to be a firm independent. It will be unchartered waters for any Malaysian government since all those who came before were more than willing to play to the tune of the PM. Additionally, the Umno-PAS bloc are the wild cards. The former is currently split four ways.

Time will tell. We will just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, Malaysia must move on from all of this. Move on from backdoor governments. Move on from Mahathir and Anwar. Give the youth a chance to lead the country.

Ahmad Ghazali Syafiq is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.