We're united and it feels so good
Big two meet; all is hunky-dory
So, the big two of Malaysian politics have had a big pow-wow, ending any sort of speculation. For all of the next five minutes, most likely.
PM-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim and PM-right-now Dr Mahathir had a 30-minute meeting at the Perdana Leadership Foundation yesterday. Top of the agenda, as you might well guess, was the transition of leadership.
Anwar said they agreed the transition should be done in a peaceful and orderly manner. And that it take a reasonable timeframe. And, that there shouldn’t be so much pressure on when it should happen.
What’s interesting about this is how quickly Anwar took to Twitter to announce the agenda – the wily veteran clearly wants to lead the narrative, knowing that speculation on his future is mounting with all the Azmin/PKE shenanigans going on this week.
The ‘reasonable timeframe’ statement is obvious, but equally important is that Anwar also stated he and Maddey don’t agree to any straying from the agreement or the use of their names in ‘any scheme’. Again, it’s clear Anwar is trying to pin Mahathir down to a commitment in case the old man conveniently loses his memory and changes his mind at some point in the future.
Let’s also not forget that Anwar is operating from a position of slight strength, considering the Tg Piai pasting Mahathir took and the mounting public backlash against him.
Still, a united front between the two titans is important politically as well as economically. Unstable leadership will hamper economic growth and FDI. Anwar said as much as well, saying both of them agreed during the meeting that the focus should be on the country’s economic growth and the hosting of the APEC meeting a year from now.
An interesting side note: Anwar said Maddey has “taken cognisance” that there are ministers who promise projects for political support and has warned that all projects must go through proper channels.
Guess who’s the one speculated to be one of these people? None other than Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali! Jeng, jeng, jeng!
Do the (Cabinet) shuffle
Having mentioned the possibility of a reshuffle the day before, Mahathir yesterday elaborated on the future make-up of the Cabinet.
As usual, the PM held his cards close to his chest, saying a reshuffle will only happen if all five Pakatan parties agree to it. But he did have one warning to issue; MPs who want to be in Cabinet bloody well better ensure they attend Parliament.
The old man says many MPs want to be in the Cabinet but seem to be not serious about serving the people. We are beginning to wonder if he’s a secret BTL subscriber, since it’s the exact thing we wrote about yesterday.
Meanwhile, Mahathir also curb stomped demands from PAS for Money Minister Lim Guan Eng to be dropped in the reshuffle. Maddey said only he had the final say on the matter, and PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man was just entitled to an opinion like everybody else. Which is great because, honestly, the PAS uncle’s statement seems like just more of the usual DAP attacks, tinged with the normal amount of inherent racism and Sinophobia. Don’t believe us? Ask Zaid Ibrahim.
Lim himself has no time for the speculation on his future, sidestepping questions on whether he’s worried he might be dropped. But seriously, folks. Can you see Lim being dropped? Because we can’t.
There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to the make-up of a Cabinet, but the convention is that leaders of the various coalition parties will be in that line-up. And while every other party has a president, DAP’s organisational structure is slightly different: the secretary-general of the party is the “all-powerful” one. Guess who the DAP sec-gen is?
It’s no coincidence the first members of the first ever non-BN Cabinet were Muhyiddin Yassin (Bersatu president), Mohamad Sabu (Amanah president) and Lim. So, even though Maddey doesn’t have to stick to convention, you can still expect all three to be around if and when a reshuffle does take place.
And then a hero comes along ...
Nor Salwani Muhammad may be the greatest Malaysian hero nobody has ever heard of.
You see, Salwani’s bravery led to the survival of at least one copy of the original audit report on 1MDB. It was a copy she had kept hidden from the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee – and by extension the nation and its leaders.
There were 60 copies of the report. All 60 were allegedly ordered destroyed, with an edited version of the report presented instead. The edited version had four important and contentious points removed.
But Salwani, a senior National Audit Department officer, kept hold of copy “09” with the pure intention of handing it over to the next auditor-general so he/she would know the truth of what was going on in that most notorious of entities.
How about that for bravery? Considering the courts have heard it was then PM Najib Razak who (allegedly, allegedly) ordered the audit report modified, it can be said Salwani risked her career – and quite possibly her well-being – in order to preserve integrity and the truth. That’s scrotal gumption in our books.
But that’s not all. When a high-level meeting was convened to act on Jibby’s orders, Salwani hid a digital voice recorder (remember when it used to be on tape?) in a pencil box to record the meeting. It was this audio recording that was played in court the day before. Ballsy, indeed!
Meanwhile, Salwani also testified that Auditor-General Ambrin Buang was so affected by the meeting that he was left shaken and mumbling to himself after. He looked so fragile, she said, that she followed him to the washroom as she was afraid he would collapse.
What’s hilarious is that Najib’s defence counsel, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, in his cross examination of Salwani, questioned her ethics in secretly recording the meeting. He questioned her ethics! In a trial in which his client is alleged to have manipulated an audit report! To Parliament!
Salwani is the fourth and current witness in Najib Razak’s trial over the alleged tampering of the 1MDB audit report. When we said yesterday that the trial is only going to get more interesting, it was probably an understatement.
Ambrin is expected to be one of those called up as witnesses in the course of the prosecution. Don’t be surprised if it’s even more explosive than Salwani’s testimony.
Bits and bobs
A few other things happened yesterday which we thought might or should interest you. Here they are in brief:
- DAP MP Ramkarpal Singh, by far the most outspoken son of the late DAP chairman Karpal Singh, has slammed the federal government over the delay in repealing the Sedition Act by conducting too many studies. That’s right Pakatan… stick to your promises, willya?
- Russia has invited Malaysia to view all the evidence it has on the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine five years ago.
- Sarawak has sued Petronas to recover sales tax which it says the national oil company owes the state. That’s quite a pretty penny there, folks.
- IGP Hamid Bador says Yazid Sufaat may be free, but the “unrepentant militant” will be closely monitored. Sure, we feel so much safer now.
- Tourism DG Musa Yusof says the task force set up to look into regulating AirBnB will have a decision by next year.
- The bubble of optimism that came about after GE14 has well and truly burst, a survey has found. Don’t need a survey to tell you that, tbh.
“A true friend stabs you in the front, not the back.”
- Oscar Wilde-
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted on various corruption charges. The Israeli Prime Minister, however, has rejected calls to resign.
- Former US National Security Council official Fiona Hill has testified that an American diplomat carried out a “domestic political errand” for Donald Trump in the Ukraine, undercutting the President’s line of defence in impeachment hearings.
- Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has filed papers to compete for the Democratic presidential nomination.
- Elon Musk has finally followed up on his “threat” to take on the Detroit auto industry as Tesla is set to unveil an electric pick-up truck.
- Is teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg a time traveller? Some people seem to think so, thanks to this one photo.
- And for your WTF story of the day: a group in Pakistan got into hot soup after it hosted a panel on feminism… which featured an all-male speaker lineup! Pandaiiii.