First off - iklan sekejap. We added almost 200 new subscribers over the past couple of days. Welcome to our new readers, and a YUGE thank you to Daphne Iking, Revathy Mariappan, Alan Soon and Koh Aun Qi for plugging us on social media, and Erin Cook for saying nice things about us on your newsletter.

Anyway to the news! As things stand, Dr Mahathir, the 7th Malaysian PM – who was also the 4th PM – has resigned from office. However, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has since made him caretaker PM (does that make him PM 7+ or PM 7S?), and there is a chance that we could even see the good doctor returning as the country’s 8th PM!

Confused? Well, we are too. Because let’s face it, NO ONE in Malaysia right now apart from the 7th/4th/caretaker PM a.k.a. Duli Yang Maha Mulia Dr Mahathir Mohamad really knows what the hell is going on.

Unlike our usual love notes to you, today's newsletter focuses just on this one story. Because let's face it, that's the only thing on anybody's lips right now. Please, please, please click on the icons below to share this on your social media and Whatsapp groups because with the deluge of news right now, context and clarity is more important than ever.

You know nothing, Jon Snow Malaysia

The facts so far

In yesterday’s newsletter we mentioned how the unholy manoeuvrings, apparently orchestrated by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, on Sunday looked to have resulted in the end of Pakatan Harapan. Turns out though, while 11 PKR members and almost the whole of Bersatu have exited the coalition, it isn’t totally dead. Also – and this is crucial – Mahathir appears to have played no part in Sunday’s power plays.

On Monday morning, Anwar Ibrahim who’d held an emergency meeting the previous night, along with his wife DPM Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, and Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu went to meet Maddey at his home in Country Heights.

Nobody really knows what transpired there, but at PKR headquarters a couple of hours later, Anwar cryptically said he was “satisfied” with the catch up at Dr M’s home, and the PM had assured his surprise breakfast guests he’d not kowtow to any “groups that want to seize power without setting an agenda for change”. 

That was around when news suddenly broke of Mahathir’s resignation as PM and shortly after that, another announcement came out – that the good doc was stepping down as chairman of Bersatu, even as the party he founded said that it’d quit Pakatan. That was also about when, first Anwar, and then Guan Eng revealed Mahathir had had no involvement in the plot to wrest control of the government through the backdoor.

A meeting between Maddey and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong followed all this on Monday evening. And by dinner time, there was a wee bit of clarity in the sense that a decision had been made that while Mahathir’s resignation would stand, he’d stick around until a new PM was appointed. All 26 ministers in the doctor’s Cabinet, however, were to be given the boot. 

Needless to say, while all this was going on, the politicking was also continuing at pretty much at a breakneck pace, with both statements of support and claims of ignorance surfacing. 

In a nutshell, by the end of the day, here’s what we’d heard:

And to top it all off, Mahathir’s party, Bersatu, rejected his resignation. So, the PM quit as PM, was appointed interim PM, quit his party which had quit his coalition, and had his resignation s party chairman rejected. So he’s now the chairperson of a party which is no longer part of the coalition which he is representing and is helming a government that his party isn’t a part of. All of this makes total sense, right?

But even amidst all of this infuriating and unnecessary political drama, there are things that really, really make the blood boil. One is ex-Singapore PM Goh Chok Tong, who took a potshot at Mahathir and Malaysia over what’s happening, and in the process showcased his pettiness and small-mindedness. Second (or worst, depending on how you look at it), was Jibby Razak, who spent the day trolling the government over what’s been happening. We know you’re happy lah, but there are time to maintain a dignified silence. But Najib and his merry men really can’t contain their glee, as you can see from these pics from yesterday, where they’re all grinning like a bunch of jackasses.

But the absolute worst of the lot? Zuraida Kamaruddin, who’s spent the last few months engaged in internecine war in PKR and whose actions contributed to the political crisis we are now in. As the country reels from the chaos its been plunged into, she and her goons uploaded this video of them saying buhbye to PKR. You really gotta watch this video. It’s all fun and jokes for them, apparently. 

You know who showed class? The Agong. He sent KFC to the media that had camped out outside the palace all day. Nice feller la, our King.

The meaning of it all

Pakatan Harapan has lost it’s Parliamentary majority. It had 129 MPs in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat just yesterday, but now looks to be 19 seats shy (20, if you count Mahathir as being a Bersatu MP) of a simple majority.

What does this mean? Well, the pact that was ruling Malaysia since the 14th general election is now a minority coalition in the Dewan. It also means that Umno, not PKR, is now the party with the most seats.

It’s just as bad at state-level. Pakatan is on course to lose at least three (or four) state assemblies – Perak, Melaka and Kedah, and possibly Johor. The coalition’s control of Penang though looks safe, thanks to the DAP alone being in possession of 19 seats.

And it’s not just the political arena that’s seeing a bloodbath. Such upheavals always hit countries badly in the pocket, and on Monday that proved true. The KLCI plunging to its lowest position in close to 10 years, and the ringgit slipping against both the US and Singapore dollars. Worse, it seems Fitch now thinks the crisis is going to dim Malaysia’s long-term economic prospects. And that’s aside from the fact Covid-19 is already likely to cost us as much as RM5.9 billion this year!

Speaking of Covid-19, the biggest disappointment and worst news to come out of all this drama might just be the fact that with Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad now out of a job, there’s a chance we might end of backsliding in our fight against the disease.

What follows when a PM resigns from office, it seems, is that his entire Cabinet is dissolved immediately. However, A-G Tommy Thomas notes that an interim PM has all the powers a normal PM does. Meaning even though the old Cabinet is no more, it’s possible for Mahathir to make a number of appointments in the short time he’s in charge to deal with stuff like the nation’s finances, defence and yes, health.

Here’s the funny thing though: we still haven’t heard a peep outta the man since his press conference following last Friday’s Pakatan presidential council meeting when he said that he’d have an absolute say on when and how to relinquish power.

There are a couple of narratives being peddled right now. The first is that the attempt to replace Pakatan with a new coalition of parties was hatched by Azmin and Bersatu without Mahathir’s approval.

The other, meanwhile, is that this whole thing – even the staying away from Sheraton and Istana Negara on Sunday, as well as the subsequent resignation and appointment as interim PM – is entirely Mahathir’s design, a final attempt to make sure Anwar never ascends the throne. 

Which one is true though, is anyone’s guess, ‘cos Maddey is playing his cards extremely close to his chest. In other words, all of Malaysia – Maddey aside – is now Jon Snow.

But, with all the speculation swirling ad turning us into a nation of makcik bawangs, what Mahathir really oughtta do is address the rakyat, stub out the rumours, and call for calm, not leave it in the hands of the Inspector-General of Police. Unfortunately, that’s yet to happen.

What's next?

It’s really difficult to predict what the next moves are going to be, but based on MIC deputy president M. Saravanan’s remarks on Monday night, our numero uno guess would be that if the so-called new coalition really does have the numbers necessary to take Putrajaya, you can expect leaders from the parties involved – probably even the same six from Sunday – to seek an audience with the Agong.

The appointment of Mahathir as caretaker PM is to give the King time to decide which coalition has majority support in the Dewan Rakyat. However, there is no time limit set for this, so it could take anything from a day to a couple of weeks for a final decision to be made.

If Maddey manages to convince the Agong he has enough of a majority to be re-installed as PM, don’t be surprised if he appoints Anwar as DPM – reenacting their Batman and Robin act from the 90s. Such a move would placate the Pakatan coalition partners as well as grassroots members remaining in PKR, and present a united front to Malaysians, quelling the non-stop succession rumours that have plagued the nation for almost two years now.

What’s also possible is that when the new Parliament meeting begins on March 10, Mahathir could still be interim PM, and that may or may not see a confidence motion being moved in the house to gauge support for the PM (or anyone else) and convince the Agong that the said individual has the backing of a majority of reps.

There’s also been talk of a snap general election being called. However, certain analysts feel that it may not even come to that, depending on which side the Sabah and Sarawak-based parties decide to pick. Still, chairman Azhar Harun, says the Election Commission is “on full alert” and ready to go if the call is made. Depending on Sabah and Sarawak parties is a dicey gamble at the best of times, as those guys are known to hop coalitions the minute somebody offers a sweet deal, so having them as kingmakers isn’t a very comforting thought. 

A general election might not be something Pakatan is looking forward to, though, considering that the coalition will need to go into it without a party (read: Bersatu) that can pick up votes from the Malay heartland. Any elections now will most likely see Umno, PAS and co coming back into power on the backs of the overwhelming conservative Malay-Muslim support.

Be that as it may, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: polls are still a far better way of securing the rakyat’s mandate than political manoeuvring and deals in the dark.

“The past is the past. The future is all that is worth discussing.”

- Petyr Baelish, Game of Thrones -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Harvey Weinstein has been convicted of rape and sexual assault by a New York court. The film producer was found guilty of sexually assaulting production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping actress Jessica Mann in 2013.
     
  • The late film legend Kirk Douglas has apparently left a huge chunk of his US$61 million fortune to charity, with not a single cent set aside for actor son Michael Douglas. Don’t be too sad for ‘ol Mike, though as the Wall Street star is reportedly worth a cool US$278 million.
     
  • Kids in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland under the age of 11 will no longer be allowed to head footballs during training due to the risk of developing degenerative neurocognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s. They’ll still be allowed to head the ball during matches, though. So… don;t risk your brain during training, but fine to do it in matches? 🤔
     
  • While the World Health Organization may be of the view that Covid-19 is still containable, it admits that the sudden increase of cases in countries like Italy and Iran is major cause for concern. Italy currently has 219 cases with six deaths, while Iran is reported to have recorded some 50 deaths. To date, more than 2,600 people have died from Covid-19 around the world.

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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