Mahathir has no permanent friends or enemies

(Malaysia Now) – Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent statement that he will not make peace with Muhyiddin Yassin over the latter’s move to form a new coalition government early this year should be evaluated against a backdrop of the veteran leader’s long list of friends and enemies in his political life, analysts say.

They do not rule out the possibility of Mahathir burying the hatchet with his enemies once again, just as he did in the past with many others whom he accused of betraying him.

This, they say, is because Mahathir’s relationship is political and not personal.

Political analyst Shamsul Amri Baharuddin traced evidence of this back to the late 80s when Mahathir’s Umno split following a challenge against him by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, the Kelantan royalty who lost his bid for the party president’s post.

“Similarly with Anwar, Mahathir negotiated his pardon, and Anwar’s wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail later became the deputy prime minister,” Shamsul told MalaysiaNow.

“We can view this cynically and perhaps speculate that Mahathir is a master of hidden agendas.”

In a recent interview with Singapore’s The Straits Times, Mahathir ruled out any possibility of reconciliation with Muhyiddin, accusing the Bersatu president of embracing the same brand of politics as Najib Razak.

“How can I accept Muhyiddin like that?” Mahathir said.

Mahathir and Muhyiddin were the main persons behind the founding of Bersatu, a breakaway Umno faction which worked with opposition parties in the 2018 election to bring down Najib’s government.

In February, the duo fell out after Mahathir walked out of a plan by his party to abandon PKR and DAP and form the government with support from Umno, PAS, GPS and several ex-PKR MPs.

Shamsul described Mahathir as conservative and self-righteous.

“That means he sees himself as someone who is loyal, true, good and straight.

“He evaluates leaders such as Abdullah Badawi, Najib, Muhyiddin and Anwar through the lens of these values.

“In other words, Mahathir sees that these leaders have weaknesses, so they need to be corrected.”

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Sivamurugan Pandian said it is all about having no permanent enemies in politics.

“In fact, politics is the art of possibility, while Malaysian politics is the politics of numbers.

“So, it is not impossible for Mahathir to revert to cordial collaboration with political rivals, as was the case with Tengku Razaleigh and Anwar, the latter being the most unexpected of all.

“His hostility is simply and purely based on politics,” Sivamurugan added.