How the Agong outmanoeuvred Mahathir
Mahathir thought he had pulled off a coup when he was granted an audience to meet the Agong to hand over his Citizens’ Declaration. Only when he was sitting in front of the Agong did Mahathir realise that a trap has been set and he unwittingly walked right into it. Then it dawned on Mahathir that the whole thing was a disaster and which has set him back many months.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Just over six months ago on 4th March 2016, four days after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad resigned from Umno on 29th February 2016, 45 opposition leaders and members of the ANC (Anti-Najib Campaign) signed a Citizens’ Declaration.
Amongst the more prominent faces were Lim Kit Siang, Azmin Ali, Mohamad Sabu, Zaid Ibrahim, Maria Chin, Ambiga Sreenevasan, Muhyiddin Yassin, Mukhriz Mahathir, Ling Liong Sik, Sanusi Junid, Mustafa Ali, Mahfuz Omar, and, of course, Mahathir himself.
On 13th May 2016, an announcement was made that the Citizens’ Declaration had already obtained almost 1.3 million signatures in just over two months. On that same day it was announced that the Citizens’ Declaration together with its 1.3 million or so signatures was going to be handed over to His Majesty the Agong.
But Mahathir was unable to get an audience with His Majesty and in his frustration he said, “We have got 1.4 million signatures, and we’ve been trying to show them to the Agong. But as of now I’ve not been able to meet the Agong because it’s likely that he’s under house arrest. The rulers may be confined to their palaces.”
About two weeks later on 26th May 2016, it was revealed that 900,000 of those almost 1.3 million signatures were fakes. Azharuddin Othman, a freelance computer programmer, claimed he had sold a database containing 900,000 names to the Citizens’ Declaration movement.
Suddenly, two days ago, Mahathir was finally granted an audience with His Majesty. And Mahathir brought a copy of the Citizens’ Declaration with its original 45 signatures in a small envelope to hand to the Agong.
But why the Citizens’ Declaration with the original 45 signatories, some such as Tamrin Ghafar who have since announced they have pulled out? What happened to the balance of the 1.3 million or 1.4 million signatures? Why were these not also handed to the Agong?
The Agong did not miss this very important point: that the Citizens’ Declaration that Mahathir handed His Majesty had only 45 signatures and not the 1.3 million or 1.4 million signatures. What happened during that meeting between Mahathir and the Agong has already been explained in this pervious article: What Khairuddin did not reveal regarding Mahathir’s meeting with the Agong.
As we reported yesterday: The first thing His Majesty the Agong asked Mahathir when the old man handed over the Citizens’ Declaration with the 1.4 million signatures was whether he can guarantee that all the signatures are genuine. Mahathir was clearly not prepared for this and hence did not rehearse his response because he was quite stunned and remained quiet for a few minutes. You could see that Mahathir was searching for words and finally, after some pause, he replied these were what was given to him.
The Agong is savvy enough to realise that this so-called ‘handing over ceremony’ of the Citizens’ Declaration was a mere sideshow. It is just a gimmick or political stunt to give an impression that the Citizens’ Declaration is a serious exercise meant to bring to the attention of the Agong, and hopefully to the Conference of Rulers as well, that the Monarchy needs to step in and remove Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
Legally that cannot happen but when you are just performing a song and dance show that does not matter. What does is the ‘look good’ factor; which are what political stunts are all about. If the Agong saw fit to grant Mahathir an audience then this is serious stuff. That means something is about to happen. That means Najib’s days are numbered.
Mahathir thought that the very fact he was granted an audience where he managed to hand over the Citizens’ Declaration is already a sign of victory. What happens after that and whether anything does happen is not really important. Mahathir knows that his handing over of the Citizens’ Declaration to the Agong two days ago has as much value as the Election Reforms Petition that Bersih handed over to the Agong in November 2007 — meaning no value whatsoever.
What Mahathir did not realise until he faced the Agong was that the message His Majesty was sending is he is not under house arrest, as Mahathir had alleged. As what we said in yesterday’s article, What Khairuddin did not reveal regarding Mahathir’s meeting with the Agong, Mahathir entered the palace acting like a ‘states’man and left as an ‘embarrass’man. He was made to feel like a downright fool.
Normally such an event would have been given wide media coverage. This time, however, it was played low key, very unlike all the political stunts Mahathir has played thus far. There was not even a photograph of the handing over ceremony, which would have been the most important photograph of all.
Mahathir realised that the publicity would have been adverse since he handed over a small envelope that did not contain the alleged 1.4 million signatures. If the Citizens’ Declaration had included the 1.4 million signatures it would have been as thick as an encyclopaedia, and maybe a few volumes. And for sure the signatures were not on a thumb drive if that is what Khairuddin Abu Hassan is going to say.
The long and the short of it all is His Majesty the Agong called Mahathir’s bluff and he fell for it. And the beautiful thing is Mahathir did not realise until he was sitting in front of the Agong that he had walked into a trap. By then it was too late to do anything about it, and when the Agong changed the subject to small talk Mahathir realised it was not mission accomplished but mission failure.