It must be the season of the witch

Political turnarounds keep alive the Ides of March notion

Syed Nadzri, New Straits Times

RAJA Petra Kamarudin vilifying Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as a chicken, Datuk Seri Wilfred Bumburing turning his back on Upko, Datin Paduka Seripah Noli Syed Hussin asking Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil to quit the Wanita Umno leadership in addition to her ministerial post and the two Kedah Pas executive councillors tightening the screws on Datuk Seri  Azizan Abdul Razak. Could this be the “Ides of March” of Malaysian politics?

It is turning into a period of upheaval for sure, a spell of betrayal or, if you must, the season of the witch.

And it is happening right here, right now in mid-March, the time when Roman statesman Julius Caesar was backstabbed more than 2,000 years ago.

It was a conspiracy among close friends, including Cassius and Brutus, that did Caesar in as he was murdered while making his way out of Parliament to the Theatre of Pompey on March 15, 44BC.

That assassination, as William Shakespeare had written, was a culmination of a warning by a soothsayer who had foreseen that Caesar would be harmed on the Ides of March, hence the famous phrase “beware the Ides of March”.

Though some say the term refers specifically to March 15, others to this day make reference to the “ides” being anytime thereabouts in mid-March. Like this week and the week before. Like friends turning against old friends as you have never seen previously.

The Ides of March of 2008, for instance, almost turned into a Caesarean nightmare for Barisan Nasional (BN) when some of its elected representatives nearly fell for the lure of the other camp right after the March 8 polls and came close to crossing over which might have wiped out BN’s election victory. This time, those tricky stars are still very much in our skies. Watch what’s happening to the Raja Petra-Anwar relationship.

A year ago, you would never have thought this kind of falling out between the two chums would happen. Now, political commentator and blogger Raja Petra, who was once held in the highest esteem by the Anwar camp, has not only turned hostile, he is calling the parliamentary opposition leader “chicken”. The ties between the two have been souring of late and it finally exploded when RPK, as he is often referred to, was riled up after Anwar reportedly requested him to be excluded from a WikiLeaks forum over the weekend in Kent, England.

Raja Petra took a swipe at the PKR leader for fearing to face him in the discussions, which would have included the political situation in Malaysia.

“How is Anwar going to debate (Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak) when he is too ‘chicken’ to face me?”

This episode not only exposes Anwar as being a hypocrite when it comes to openness and freedom of expression, it more or less adds one more important person to the list of close friends losing faith in him, those becoming his Brutus and turning their backs on him, many of whom from his old school.

The RPK blow represents the Ides of March in all its glory.

And Sabah politician Bumburing, the deputy president of BN’s United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation, is adding spice to the predestination theory by keeping quiet over speculation that he is leaving the party over matters pertaining to illegal immigrants in he state. Although his fate is yet unknown, it is understood that he is ready to desert his commitment to BN.

It’s the same kind of backsliding seen coming from Seripah Noli, the Wanita Umno central committee member, who was widely reported in cyberspace as the one in the ranks wanting beleaguered Shahrizat to quit as Wanita Umno chief in addition to her impending resignation as federal minister.

Although this has yet to be verified, it is believed that many in the movement share this sentiment. Et tu, Noli?

And, of course, the same applies to the two Pas rebels in the Kedah state exco — Datuk Phahrolrazi Zawawi and Datuk Dr Ismail Salleh — who have drawn the knife behind the back of the menteri besar.

The latest news is that a majority of members in the Kedah Pas liaison committee want the duo, whose plot has been exposed, to be removed as deputy commissioners. But Azizan might have just saved their skin by overruling moves to penalise the duo.

But on a positive side, the Ides of March brought good tidings for Mick Jagger and his Rolling Stone partner Keith Richards.

It was just four days ago, on March 16, that it was declared that their long feud had at last ended. No more Brutus role for either.