How Najib trapped Mahathir by keeping quiet

If Najib had replied to the 1MDB attacks and made it ineffective as a weapon, Mahathir may have migrated to the Felda issue instead. And this would have been damaging because Felda represents 54 parliament seats and are Umno strongholds. Umno needs to retain those 54 Felda seats to balance the urban seats that Umno can never win and will always remain DAP or DAP-led Pakatan Harapan seats. With the 54 Felda seats and the 57 East Malaysian seats, that comes to 111 or half the 222 seats in Parliament.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Back in 1990, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (Ku Li) said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is a like a beruk (pig-tailed macaque). The crowd in Terengganu was stunned into silence when Ku Li said what was considered an insult done in bad-taste. Ku Li then explained why he said Mahathir is like a beruk. The stronger the monsoon wind, the stronger the beruk will hold on tight to the tree. But when there is absolutely no wind, the beruk will fall to the ground.

So you must not attack Mahathir, said Ku Li. Let him rant, rave and scream sorang diri. If you attack him he becomes stronger. Leave him alone and eventually he will climb down from the tree and then you can whack him dead. Good advice, which, unfortunately, Ku Li himself did not take. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, however, had taken a course in Mahathirism and knew precisely how that old man thinks and does things. And Najib applied the skills he had learned to beat Mahathir at his own game.

The basic and first rule of Mahathirism is he loves only himself and no one else. And as much as he may appear his own man and a tyrant to boot, the reality is even with Mahathir you must play politik dapur, or the codename that Mahathir’s inner circle uses is ‘kitchen cabinet’. In other words, his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Ali, has a strong say in the family and as far as she is concerned their children come first.

Knowing that, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was aware that if Mukhriz did not win an Umno Vice President’s seat in the 2013 Umno party election, after losing the 2009 contest for Umno Youth Leader, then expect trouble. And the fact that Mahathir had given an early warning shot soon after the May 2013 general election was already a very clear sign that a storm was looming over the horizon.

Mukhriz had no hope of winning the Umno party election because he is not a grassroots man and Najib knew that

Najib knew that Mukhriz was not going to win. He just does not have what it takes to win. He is too aloof, cannot remember people’s names or where they are from, acts like royalty, never looks people in the eye when he salams them, and so on. He is definitely not a rakyat’s man and the Umno grassroots do not like that type of leader. And just because he carries the Mahathir surname does not mean that is enough to get voted in. Even Najib does not win because of his Razak surname but because of his warm and friendly personality in spite of his orang istana background.

As far as Najib was concerned Mahathir’s attack is imminent. It is not a question of if but when and how. And when they sabotaged 1MDB by blocking its IPO and bank loans, Najib knew where the attack was going to come from. But then that is going to be a ‘weak link’ so it is best that Najib encourages that attack through 1MDB. If you tighten 1MDB and the attacks become difficult they will change tactics and you never know what is going to come next. It is like what America said when they were asked about the Vietnam War. We need a controlled conflict to avoid another form of conflict beyond our control, said the United States.

So 1MDB can be controlled and it will hence be a ‘controlled conflict’. And that is going to be a conflict that will go nowhere and Mahathir will never gain any new ground. Mahathir is going to be bogged down for years like what happened in the battle of the trenches in France during WWI. Day in and day out they will be shooting across no man’s land and can neither advance or retreat.

It was a brilliant strategy that would have made any veteran general proud. If Sun Tzu were still around today he would probably add that as one more point in the Sun Tzu Art of War doctrine. Keep the door open and allow your enemy to walk in and then engage that enemy in an unproductive battle until he tires out while you free yourself to fight the real battle somewhere elseNajib’s Art of War.

Najib knows Mahathir like he knows the back of his own hand so he knows how to draw the old man into the pit

In fact, this was mentioned in the previous article, 1MDB is Najib’s weapon, not Mahathir’s (READ HERE). It was like a fish getting all excited seeing the worm squirming in the water not realising that the worm is attached to a hook. And a fish that cannot keep its mouth shut gets hooked, as what happened to Mahathir when he opened his mouth too much.

And Najib knew he had hooked Mahathir good and proper when the first thing that Mahathir said is RM42 billion of 1MDB’s money had disappeared into thin air. Gotcha! Mahathir knew nothing about 1MDB if he can say that RM42 billion of 1MDB’s money had disappeared into thin air. It should have been 1MDB borrowed RM42 billion backed by assets of RM51 billion.

At that point Najib knew the best strategy was to keep quiet and say nothing. Why open your mouth and tell the old man he is wrong and then allow him to go find out what is really going on and come back this time with a correct statement? Let him continue in his ignorance so that he will keep making wrong statements, which he will find difficult to take back later, especially after saying that same thing so many times.

Mahathir thought he saw an opportunity, 1MDB, and he bit hard like a dog with a bone. Muhyiddin Yassin, too, who had always held a grudge against Najib since the time when Abdullah picked him (Najib) instead as the Deputy Prime Minister also saw an opportunity in 1MBD. Most importantly, Najib, too, saw that 1MDB is an opportunity to bog down his enemies in an issue that is of no real danger and which will give them a false sense of victory even as they go nowhere for three or four years until the next general election.

The 1MDB issue can also help Najib flush out his enemies within Umno and Barisan Nasional. Politicians are like wolves and when the leader of the pack appears injured or weak the rest of the pack will turn on it. Najib had to flush out his enemies and the best way that can be done was to appear weak and injured. Then his enemies will reveal themselves.

Mahathir now knows he has met his match

And that is precisely what happened. Najib knew of the existence of the ANC (Anti-Najib Campaign). But then who were the brains and who else were in that conspiracy? Even Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Muhyiddin Yassin confessed that the conspiracy exists and that they know who are in it. But no one would reveal the full list of conspirators and Najib needed to find out who they are.

By the time the dust settled, the proxies of Mahathirism such as Muhyiddin Yassin, Tun Daim Zainuddin, Mukhriz Mahathir, Shafie Apdal, the head of the MACC and various senior officers, the top people in the Special Branch, the Attorney General, the Bank Negara Governor and a few key people, etc., had all revealed themselves — alongside operatives such as Matthias Chang, Khairuddin Abu Hassan, Sufi Yusof, Kadir Yassin, Zainuddin Maidin, Tong Kooi Ong and his team in The Malaysian Insider, Clare Rewcastle Brown and her team in Sarawak Report, and so on.

Those were the key people in the ANC and the 1MDB issue was the horse they were riding. By December 2014 it was no longer a secret and all Najib had to do now was to keep them busy and bogged down in the 1MDB battleground so that he was free to do what matters to ensure that Umno and Barisan Nasional win the next general election and Pakatan Rakyat (not yet Pakatan Harapan at that time) can be kept in its place.

Further to that, Najib can turn 1MDB from a mere weapon of mass distraction into his advantage so that he can consolidate his power in Umno, Barisan Nasional and the government. Najib knew that a storm was coming and when it does you can only face it and brace yourself against it. And to survive that storm you need to strengthen your foundation. The danger that Najib faces is not 1MDB. In fact, 1MDB is no danger at all but a crucial weapon to lock Mahathir in an unproductive engagement and bog him down. The real danger is Mahathirism.

Najib has to destroy Mahathirism and everything it stands for. Mahathirism not only destroyed the country and cost the taxpayers RM200 billion, it also brought down three Prime Ministers and three Prime Ministers-in-waiting. And now Mahathirism is threatening to bring down another Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister both at the same time. As long as Mahathirism still exists Najib has to sleep with one eye open.

When the Mamak and the Chinese unite the Malays need to be wary

Tun Hussein Onn survived just over five years. Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi survived just over five years. Tun Musa Hitam survived just over five years. Tun Ghafar Baba survived just over six years. Anwar Ibrahim survived just over five years. No one goes beyond seven years and Najib became Prime Minister in early 2009. That means Mahathir will make his move around 2014-2015 or so.

And that was precisely what happened. Mahathir asked Khairuddin to fire the first shot in December 2014 and in January 2015 Mahathir formed the ANC. By February they were ready to make their move so that in six months or by July 2015 Najib will be out of office. It was going to be a battle between David and Goliath and every man and his dog knows that Mahathir is the Goliath. So what chance does Najib have? — which is the reason why all bets were on Najib not surviving beyond 2015.

And in those six months until July 2015 Najib did nothing and said nothing. This gave the ANC the perception they were winning and that Najib’s silence is because he was powerless and did not know how to respond and defend himself. But those six months of deafening silence is to allow his enemies to become bolder and reveal themselves. This is exactly what Lee Kuan Yew did to flush out the Communists in Singapore and then he swooped down on them and finished them off once and for all like a hawk finishing off a rabbit.

What is even more crucial is not only did Najib get the proxies of Mahathirism to reveal themselves, he also managed to get them to group themselves under Pakatan Harapan. Before this they were Najib’s enemies so it was more of a personal thing. Now they are enemies of Umno and Barisan Nasional. And because of that Umno and Barisan Nasional would rally behind Najib and unite against the Mahathirists who were now part of Pakatan Harapan.

Well, you have heard of Maoists, Leninists, Stalinists, etc. Mahathir created Mahathirism and he had a group of Mahathirists to uphold his doctrine. But Najib needed this to be part of Pakatan Harapan and no longer part of Umno and Barisan Nasional. Only then can Najib consolidate his strength in Umno and Barisan Nasional when Mahathirism and the proxies of Mahathirism called Mahathirists become a threat to Umno and Barisan Nasional. Then history will be repeated when David kills Goliath, yet again.

Mahathir made himself look very silly with the ‘Free Anwar’ badge

If it is one man, Najib, versus Mahathirism then it is going to be a tough fight. But if it is a united Umno-Barisan Nasional versus a Mahathirist-Pakatan Harapan then the fight is on a level battleground. And this is what Najib did to isolate Mahathirism and make it no longer part of Umno-Barisan Nasional but part of Pakatan Harapan. It was a brilliant move and Mahathir did not see this coming until it was too late to do a U-turn.

Confining Mahathir’s attack to 1MDB was also brilliant. 1MDB is an urban issue and only the urban voters are focused on that. But then the urban voters are already anti-establishment anyway and have been so for decades. So what difference does it make? Without the 1MDB issue they are still going to vote DAP and the DAP-led Pakatan Harapan so there is nothing really lost or gained from 1MDB.

If Najib had replied to the 1MDB attacks and made it ineffective as a weapon, Mahathir may have migrated to the Felda issue instead. And this would have been damaging because Felda represents 54 parliament seats and are Umno strongholds. Umno needs to retain those 54 Felda seats to balance the urban seats that Umno can never win and will always remain DAP or DAP-led Pakatan Harapan seats. With the 54 Felda seats and the 57 East Malaysian seats, that comes to 111 or half the 222 seats in Parliament.

Najib did his arithmetic and he knows what matters. Can Umno win Kepong, Jinjang, etc., even if Najib explains the 1MDB issue and proves that what Mahathir said is a lie? Even if Mahathir openly confesses he lied the DAP supporters will still not vote Umno. So why worry about what Mahathir says? Focus on the Felda and East Malaysian seats and make sure that the voters there are happy. And keep Mahathir busy talking about 1MDB so that he does not start going down to Felda or East Malaysia.

By talking about 1MDB you are preaching to the already converted. It is like preaching to Muslims during Friday prayers about how great Islam is. Try going to church on Sunday and see how many Christians convert to Islam after your one-hour sermon. That is what matters. And Mahathir is not converting any Christians to Islam, so to speak, because he is preaching to those who are already Muslims.

Pakatan Harapan is really all about freeing Anwar from jail after all

Mahathir told his inner circle he has wasted three years talking about 1MDB and that nothing much has been gained. He knows that the 1MDB issue is not going to bring Najib down and Umno and Barisan Nasional are not going to lose the next general election because of 1MDB. Instead, because they wasted too much time on 1MDB, that has left them very little time to prepare for the next general election. There are so many internal issues in Pakatan Harapan that need to be resolved but have not because they thought attacking 1MDB is enough to bring Najib down.

Now they know the only way to bring Najib down is to kick out Umno and Barisan Nasional in the general election. But they wasted three years focusing on 1MDB and now time is no longer on their side. And because of their internal problems they might not even win the 82 seats they won in the 2008 general election. Currently they are struggling to win even just 70 seats. And they need at least 112 seats to form the new federal government.

It is practically game over for Pakatan Harapan. Their only hope was that 1MDB would bring Najib down. And Najib was supposed to have been brought down two years ago in 2015. You cannot change horses in midstream but this is what they now need to do. But which horse do they now ride? Well, Mahathir hopes that this new horse will be the Scorpene submarines. But then do issues such as submarines and fighter jets matter to those in the Malay heartland, such as the Felda settlers, and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak?

And with the latest development in the US it looks like the US DoJ matter is soon going to be dead in the water while the PAS suit against Clare Brown of Sarawak Report is going to reveal that she never had any evidence to implicate Najib in wrongdoings in 1MDB after all as she claims.

Najib, and not Mahathir, fires the final shot