This whole Pakatan-No Pakatan thing is still the most talked about thing in town, and today almost the entire newsletter is devoted to it.

We look at the latest developments with an uneasy eye, and what looked like something which will drag on for a long time seemed to take a turn for the worse yesterday, with opposition parties BN and PAS now withdrawing support for PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad cos they don't wanna work with DAP.

So enjoy today's BTL, folks, as much as you can with the nonsense swirling around these days. Coz if you don't laugh, then you just might cry.

And the sham drags on ...

The winner takes it all

Bear with us folks. This first segment’s a real doozy.

Within a space of just a couple of days, BN and PAS have made a complete U-turn and decided not to support Dr Mahathir Mohamad. They’re having none of the so-called Perikatan Nasional and instead are calling for snap polls to determine who should be leading us poor sods.

The decision to reverse course was conveyed to the King in a meeting yesterday morning, following news that Maddey wanted to form a unity government that would include the full spectrum of political parties in the country.

We all wonder if just such a unity government could exist. How would some of the parties work together in government, considering some of ’em, well, just can’t. Case in point, PAS and DAP. See, the apparent reason behind the BN-PAS U-turn is that any unity gomen would include DAP. The racist, chauvinistic and bigoted PAS says any government would have to leave out that racist, chauvinistic party (not their words, but used in the past to describe Saudara Lim Guan Eng’s beloved party). The problem is that Maddey’s unity gomen idea will of course include DAP.

Mahathir had apparently proposed the unity government at meetings with political leaders from both sides of the political divide held over the course of the morning. With all sides (Pakatan leaders especially PM-wannabe Anwar Ibrahim, former PKR leaders who quit the party or were sacked, opposition leaders) prior to this throwing their support behind the new interim PM to continue being PM (confused yet?), Mads is likely to be the next PM as well, says DAP man Ong Kian Ming. In fact, he seems to be in an even stronger position, with sources saying Maddey would now have the choice of picking from the best leaders from all political parties (yeah we hear ya… slim pickings), should a unity gomen be installed.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, meanwhile, has been personally interviewing MPs at the Istana, trying to determine if Maddey has their support. But this may just be a moot point with BN-PAS withdrawing theirs. With no unity gomen, what else is left but to determine whether Pakatan still has the majority, what with the PKR leaders jumping ship and Bersatu leaving the pact?

But was there another reason for BN to join PAS in pulling out support for Mahathir? Former Maddey media communications adviser Kadir Jasin says there would be no room for “kleptocrats and crooks” in any government formed by the 4th-7th-7.5th-and-likely-8th PM. If BN thought Umno leaders like Najib Razak and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (not to mention Rosie Mansor) could get off scot-free from the long arm of the law, just cos they supported Mahathir, then this Kadir Jasin statement would’ve been a slap in their faces.

Bersatu Youth, meanwhile, says it will not work with Umno en bloc, so again Maddey’s dream of a unity gomen will likely not come true. And, Bersih 2.0 says it is for fresh polls as a unity government would not be in the spirit of democracy. We support the call for fresh elections, but that last bit seems a little off-key, considering it is an accepted practice around the world. But who are we to doubt the great defenders of democracy in the country?

But the whole unity government thing doesn’t really need to pan out, if what Amanah communications director Khalid Samad says is true. After the coalition’s presidential council meeting yesterday, he said he was confident Pakatan still holds the simple majority in Parliament and can still form the government.

With 11 PKR MPs having quit or been sacked, and Bersatu out of the coalition, this leaves them with only 102 seats. And that’s with Pakatan-friendly Warisan and UPKO included. You need 112 seats for a simple majority, Khalid, so we really don’t know what superior mathematical skills you have that your simple majority is different from the rest of the country’s. 

What is more likely, YB, is that Mahathir could form a minority government. A minority government is formed when there is no party/coalition with a clear-cut majority in Parliament but one MP (Maddey, who else) who has the support of the majority of his peers. Bersatu and the 11 former PKR MPs may not be in Pakatan anymore, but their support is still with Mahathir. So a minority government may actually be possible. In any case, Khalid has said announcement will be coming out today, so let’s wait and see what happens.

You guys have likely already seen this in some way or form by now, but we need to point it out nevertheless: the big winner after all this seems to be Maddey. The only minister who resigned in the face of all this is the only person now left standing, with the rest of his Cabinet dissolved. In other words, Mahathir now reigns supreme. We live in truly wondrous times, don’t we?

No one seems to be able to predict what the outcome of this all will be. It’s only been a few days since this shitload of nonsense was dumped on us. What remains clear is that this is not going to be solved in a day, what with all the manoeuvring, intrigues and U-turns going on.

All other things we need to know

Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor is the new Captain Obvious. In a statement released yesterday, the Malaysian Bar Council president said it should be Parliament that determines who should be PM, but he also said what was happening now was “unprecedented in Malaysian history”.

Thanks, mate. We didn’t know that before you said it. But his statement did serve one function. With our attention mostly focused on what sort of federal government is to be formed, and who will be the next PM, or whether we will see snap elections, we could easily lose sight of things which need to be addressed, as well as how the near-instantaneous collapse of Pakatan has affected other things.

Bursa Malaysia, which suffered a drop so bad on Monday that it went to the lowest it has been in almost 10 years, staged a mild rebound yesterday to close just above 1,500. The recovery was just a quarter of the losses the previous day, but hey, that’s something at least.

All things government, well, the important things anyway, are still running, with Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Zuki Ali saying it was business as usual for the civil service. And out-of-a-job Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng says the former-turned-interim PM had given the go-ahead for the economic stimulus package in light of the Covid-19 outbreak to continue. Lim said he had finalised the plan on Sunday.

Plans to evacuate 75 Malaysians still in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, also went ahead, with a specially chartered aircraft leaving for the Chinese city in Hubei province. This second evacuation mission is scheduled to depart Wuhan today.

Meanwhile, the exit of Bersatu from Pakatan and Azmin Ali and his group of supporters from PKR has also left several states in limbo and in the midst of power struggles. 

In Selangor, MB Amirudin Shari says he had met with the Sultan, who had expressed satisfaction that Pakatan was still in control, even with Bersatu out of the picture. In Melaka, Adly Zahari says he is still CM and his state executive council still functioning, despite one exco member saying that Pakatan no longer controls the state assembly. As Bersatu had only two reps in the assembly, Tey Kok Kiew’s assertion that Pakatan now has only 12 seats to “the other side’s” 16 would indicate that someone else has frogged it out of the coalition.

We’re a little confused about the status of Perak, however. MB Faizal Azumu says the Perak gomen is still intact. But he is one of two Bersatu reps. With Bersatu out of Pakatan, where does this leave the state government? Does this mean it’s a unity gomen among Bersatu and Pakatan parties? Your guess is as good as ours.

In Johor, Bersatu’s exit from Pakatan leaves the coalition and the opposition even stevens with 28 seats each. But Johor BN is confident at least one assemblyman (or woman) will be leaving PKR, giving the opposition a two-seat majority. The frog move, apparently, was promised by “their boss in KL”. We assume this is either Azmin Ali or one of his gang members.

There is still no word about Kedah, though, where Maddey’s son Mukhriz is MB. Though Bersatu has only six seats in the 36-seat state assembly, the party’s exit from Pakatan leaves BN and PAS with a larger contingent (17) than the ruling coalition (13). 

But the single most worrying thing to come out yesterday was probably this survey. Remember how we said any elections would result in overwhelming Malay-Muslim (and therefore majority) support for the Umno-PAS alliance? Well, over half the 1,000 people polled in the survey said we would have a brighter future with a government made up of all the Bumiputera parties. 

Well, it may look brighter for the majority, but we’re willing to bet it would suck balls if you were a minority. Equally as worrying in that survey was the finding that over 60% of people still get their news from social media, which as we all know is so easily manipulated. At times like these, please go to trusted and legitimate sources of news (perhaps your friendly neighbourhood newsletter?) instead of FB or Twitter.

In other news...

As we mentioned earlier, this whole episode with the government (or lack of it) is probably gonna drag on for some time. Other things need to be included in our humble newsletter as well, even if only in brief. So here’s what else happened yesterday:

  • A “living library” of two million rainforest trees is being bulldozed near the town of Tanjung Malim on the Perak-Selangor border. The trees were part of a lifelong reforestation project led by 84-year-old James Kingham, with 1,200 species of rare forest trees, in a 80ha plot of land. But his lease expired and the state land was sold to new owners who, sadly, intend to develop it. Conservationists are now up in arms, and we couldn’t possibly support them more. 
     
  • A UM grad who got into a whole lot of trouble for staging a protest against the university’s vice-chancellor at his convocation ceremony will be charged with breach of peace and public order today. We guess riots must have broken out when Wong Yan Ke staged his protest last October.
     
  • Gadek assemblyman G. Saminathan and seven others were freed of charges related to the defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam yesterday after the prosecution dropped their cases against them. The day before, Seremban Jaya assemblyman P. Gunasekaran had been freed. This leaves three others still in custody, though they too are expected to be freed after Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said last week that all charges against the so-called LTTE 12 would be dropped.
     
  • The 20th Covid-19 patient in Malaysia, a Chinese national who was also the 20th case detected here, has fully recovered from the disease and returned home. That leaves only two more being treated in hospital here.
     
  • Federal Court judge Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim has been appointed the new Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak. He replaces David Wong Dak Wah (yes, that’s his real name, we kid you not), who retired on Feb 19.
     
  • Yesterday, news began to emerge that Southeast Asian superapps Grab and Gojek were in discussion about potentially merging. But the latest out of that is that Gojek is denying all the claims. So will they or won’t they? This is almost as interesting as our political drama!

“A politician is a man who will double cross that bridge when he comes to it.”

- Oscar Levant -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • US President Donald Trump arrived in India for a two-day visit, landing in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad to a fantastic welcome. Indian PM tweeted the well-known Indian saying “The guest is God”. We wonder what he’ll say if the Donald calls India a shithole
     
  • Meanwhile, back in Washington, DC, Senate Democrats again blocked two Republican bills that would ban most late-term abortions and threaten doctors with jail time for not trying to save the life of infants born alive during abortions. 
     
  • Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who ruled the country for three decades until he was forced to step down in a popular uprising, has died aged 91.
     
  • The Palestinian Islamic Jihad has accused Israel of killing two of its members in an airstrike on Damascus. The strike was in retaliation for clashes between Islamic Jihad and Israeli Defence Forces near Gaza.
     
  • In a shock announcement, Bob Iger has stepped down as Disney CEO. The hugely respected Iger, who had helmed the House of Mouse for 15 years, will be replaced by Bob Chapek, who had been chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Product

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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