BN proves its craftiness

Najib by-elections

Bringing forward Hadi’s bill for tabling was a brilliant gambit that targeted the opposition’s weaknesses.

Scott Ng, Free Malaysia Today

The results of the by-elections in Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar have made clear that the divided opposition has failed to connect with the greater public and that it can’t match Barisan Nasional in political cunning. The ruling coalition pulled off a masterful strategy in bringing up Hadi Awang’s hudud bill just before the by-elections to cause a clash over the issue between PAS and Pakatan Harapan.

The opposition has obviously floundered after PAS left Pakatan last year. This gives credence to the accusation that Pakatan Rakyat was a mere marriage of convenience. And now hindsight tells us that the reconstituted Pakatan’s flirtation with former PM Mahathir Mohamad could also have been ill advised. Mahathir has obviously hit a dead end in his campaign against Prime Minister Najib Razak. He has carried out that campaign without proposing an alternative PM and that must be spooky to many Malaysians cautiously watching their wallets in these economically tumultuous times.

Pakatan was drawn into a sisyphean struggle when Hadi’s private member’s bill was brought forward for tabling in the Dewan Rakyat. This set off a panic among the many Malaysians opposed to the introduction of hudud, forcing Amanah and PKR to spend time and effort drawing a line between themselves and PAS, but without offending Muslim sensitivities.

Given that Hadi himself seemed surprised by the government’s decision to bring forward his bill, it would be only logical to conclude that this was a brilliant gambit from BN that targeted the critical weaknesses of the opposition.

It is clear that neither Pakatan nor PAS in their current situation can win the next general election. Even the prospect of their retaining the states they currently control is in serious question.

For Pakatan, the silver lining in all this is that PAS overestimated its popularity over Amanah. The new party came too close for the Islamist party’s comfort. PAS has to realise that its voter base too is showing signs of rejection.

Finally, we must give credit where it is due. Najib is stronger now than at any point before in his entire career. The Prime Minister has defied his critics and their putdowns. He has proven to be a master politician, outmanoeuvring the opposition and even the reputedly crafty Mahathir.

Having executed his strategy, all Najib had to do was have his people go to the ground and say, “We will take care of you, as we’ve always done,” and as the opposition fought itself, BN won the war.