Facing the TV cameras, and with his trusty ministerial manel gathered around him like the palace eunuchs of yore, Malaysia’s primo supremo
Muhyiddin Mahiaddin Yassin admitted he’d lost majority Parliament support.
But yet, instead of doing the expected (and proper!) thing and announcing his resignation (contrition – or, better still, some groveling – over his disaster of a premiership would’ve helped too), the prime minister, with a straight face only a politician could pull in such circumstances and a blissful unawareness of irony, expressed sadness at the endless political storm assailing the country, even as thousands are falling sick and dying from Covid-19.
Hearing the man speak, you could be forgiven if you thought he’s just like you, a helpless plebe swept up in gale-force political winds and trying hard to not be blown away amidst the downpour of empty rhetoric, false promises and plain BS.
You might have forgotten he’s the man at the centre of Malaysia’s leadership tussle for close to a year; the culprit behind the toppling of a democratically elected government; and the man who kept an entire nation under lockdown AND emergency for the better part of 2021. And for what? The stunning feat of Malaysia seeing an increase of over 800% in daily Covid cases and almost 7,000% upticks in daily deaths (don’t believe us? Do the math!) from pre-emergency levels.
Moo’s delivery on national TV yesterday was a valiant performance in changing the narrative and gaslighting the nation, a routine that would’ve impressed even China’s diving prodigy, Quan Hongchan. But was it enough for him to clinch the PM gold?
In case you’ve been in a Covid-proof underground bunker these last weeks and months, here’s what’s happening…
After weeks of secret meetings among allies and by rivals, royal mail exchanges and SD signings since one-time pally wallies Umno pulled support from his PN coalition government, Mahiaddin’s lost command of the lower House.
He no longer has the numbers – in short, he’s screwed. So yesterday, amidst royal pressure to bring forward the Sept vote of (non)confidence he’d likely lose, Moo unveiled a plan as cunning as a fox that’d just been appointed professor of cunning at Oxford University.
The idea? To convince Joe and Jane Q Public that uprooting the entire gomen now, in the midst of Covid, is bad juju.
His logic is simple. Our vaccination plan is on track; our economy is expected to improve (allegedly! allegedly!); and no one MP is thus far able to gather majority support – or so Moo says lah.
So why rock the KD Jalur Gemilang?
What Moo is essentially trying to convince us is that his failed gomen that’s relying on the eggs in the vaccine basket to get out of this Covid hellhole and the rinse-repeat cycles of political power-grabbing is better than him resigning/dissolving Parliament and rendering Malaysia gomen-less during a pandemic.
And here’s what Moo’s promising the political piranhas circling his decaying career.
If his ex-PN comrades and opposition MPs (assuming they’re willing to forgive the knife he stuck in their back during the Sheraton Move) will agree to a Confidence and Supply Agreement (CSA) to make way for a minority gomen, Moo pinky swears he’ll hold elections in July 2022.
He’s also promised a host of reforms and sweeteners for the MPs and us plebs, including implementation of Undi18, anti-frogging/party-hopping laws, a 2-term limit for the prime minister, senior minister perks (and salary?) for the opposition leader (currently, one Anwar Ibrahim Esq.), “funds” for MPs from all parties, and select committee posts for “better checks and balances”.
But a medal finish isn’t looking likely for our main man Moo. Pakatan Harapan has turned him down flat (awkward!), Umno has told him to take a long dive from a high cliff (our words!) and Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Pejuang has told Moo to bugger off (bet they enjoyed that). Even Najib Razak is enjoying sticking a stiletto betwixt Moo’s ribs. It’s a bloodbath and like any bloodbath, it ain’t pretty.
Still, the next few days will reveal if anybody teeters and decides to take up Moo’s offer.
But, we really gotta ask:
1) Can Moo actually deliver on all his grand promises while managing a pandemic and in time for GE15 mid-next year?
2) Will the guy who doesn’t even dare open Parliament house and face his opponents really have the stones to go to the polls in 11 months?
3) If Moo really does think these reforms are what Malaysia needs, why did we not hear a peep from him at any time before this, when his ass was NOT against the wall?
Because, in the words of political analyst Wong Chin-Huat, “in politics, what matters most is not values, but circumstances”.
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Shazeera Ahmad Zawawi
Shazeera’s a human rights advocate and visual storyteller working in Switzerland. She’s a self-taught artist producing wicked comics and cartoons for national, regional and international non-profit organisations and exhibitions. See more about her here.