Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar: Mahathir’s Waterloo
The Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections were supposed to prove many things. One of the things it was supposed to prove is that Najib is no longer wanted and has to resign immediately. It only managed to prove the opposite and instead strengthened Najib’s position even more.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
When I walk past a barking dog I do not worry too much compared to when I walk past a very quiet dog that appears to have no interest in me and looks at me from the corner of its eye. Maybe that is a phobia I acquired due to an incident that happened when I was probably ten years old or thereabouts.
I was walking along Meru Road in Kelang past a row of Chinese shops around 1960 or so when a dog that appeared to be sleeping and appeared to have no interest in me suddenly shot up and bit me in the leg. I was too shocked to even shout or cry out.
A Chinese shopkeeper who saw the incident quickly shooed the dog away and then brought me inside his shop to give me medical treatment. He wiped some sort of Chinese medicine on the wound and bound it. I never went to hospital for an anti-tetanus shot and that is probably why I have been a mad dog ever since.
Anyway, so that taught me one thing. Barking dogs, especially old dogs that do not even have teeth any more and stare at you threateningly, are not as dangerous as a dog that never open its mouth and just looks at you sideways. When these quiet ones do bite you, they sink their teeth into your flesh good and proper.
So, for 18 months now, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been barking at Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. And not only Mahathir barks, he gets his other dogs, bitches and puppies to bark as well — Muhyiddin Yassin, Mukhriz Mahathir, Shafie Apdal, Matthias Chang, Khairuddin Abu Hassan, Kadir Jasin, Ariff Sabri Aziz, Hussein Hamid Steadyaku, Tony Pua, Rafizi Ramli, Clare Rewcastle Brown, Syed Akbar Ali, DAP, PAN, The Edge, The Malaysian Insider, and so on.
The message is simple. Kill Umno if you want to kill Najib. The only way to bring down Najib is to bring down Umno. You cannot oust Najib until and unless you kick Umno out. In other words, if you want to assassinate the President, then you must destroy Air Force One and everyone on board, even the innocent bystanders.
However, plot after plot failed. They did everything humanly possible to oust Najib but each and every time they failed to kill off Najib. Najib not only survived each assassination attempt, he actually grew stronger after each failed attempt. I suppose Kelly Clarkson’s song “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” rings true here.
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So, yes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And each time they failed to kill Najib he became stronger. It was like Najib had some magical powers and each time he kills an enemy he absorbs that enemy’s strength. So the more people who attack him, and the more attackers Najib kills off, the stronger he gets.
In the end it became exactly like the proverbial game of thrones. It no longer matters whether people like you or not. People support you because they acknowledge your power. Power attracts support. As what Richard Gere told Julia Roberts in ‘Pretty Woman’ — stores are not nice to people, stores are nice to credit cards.
Mahathir turned the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections into a referendum or popularity contest. Malaysia did not really hold parliamentary by-elections last Saturday. It was more like the US presidential election. The Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections were reduced to “whom do you want to lead Malaysia, Najib or Mahathir?”
It was Mahathir’s last-ditch gamble. Place all your money on one horse and win big or lose all. You either go home a millionaire or you go home bankrupt. Basically this was going to be either Najib’s Waterloo or Mahathir’s Waterloo. And when the votes were counted it turned out to be Mahathir’s Waterloo. Barisan Nasional not only won both seats, they won with more than 50% of the votes and with a higher margin than even the last general election.
In short, it was a triple victory for Najib. Many expected Barisan Nasional to win with less than 50% of the votes (a slide from last time) but would still win considering that more than 50% of the opposition votes would be split and would have to be shared between PAS and PAN (maybe 26-28% each). But for Barisan Nasional to sweep 53-54% of the votes took even Barisan Nasional by surprise.
Mahathir says he is not giving up, though. In his latest blog posting he is still repeating what he has been saying since 2014 (with really nothing new to add). But then his son, Mukhriz, the man who Mahathir wants as the next Deputy Prime Minister if and when he can oust Najib, does not seem to be on the same page as his father. Has Mukhriz accepted the fact that it is game over?
In fact, Muhyiddin also did not go down to the ground to campaign for PAN or Pakatan Harapan. Has Muhyiddin, too, just like Mukhriz, abandoned Mahathir? For sure Shafie Apdal has. He has not been too vocal since the failed vote of no confidence attempt in Parliament in October last year and the failed vote of no confidence attempt in the Umno general assembly in December last year.
Anyway, over the last two days, the Mat Salleh and Indian Muslim bloggers have been whacking me kau-kau and have said all sorts of nasty things about me. These mercenaries can’t seem to understand that at the end of the day it is winning that counts. And have no doubts about it: Najib won the Sarawak state elections last month and the two parliamentary by-elections last weekend. And that is all that counts in this game of thrones.
And that means, in short, Najib won and Mahathir lost. And that means Najib is going to remain the Prime Minister at least until the next general election in 2018 or so. So you can huff and you can puff until you turn blue in the face but you can never blow the house down. That, in essence, is what this is all about.