As Zahid’s rift with Tok Mat widens, will BlackRock’s airport deal lead to a soft landing or outright crash for unity gov’t?

The question is to what extent will the dissenting voices in UMNO undermine Zahid whose backing for Anwar is key to the unity government’s survival?

(Focus Malaysia) – Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi is not in the most enviable position right now.

On the one hand, the UMNO president is torn between his loyalty towards Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his own party base which has grown queasy over the proposed privatisation deal of airports operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB).

It is an open secret that the UMNO grassroots are increasingly uncomfortable over the deal given the involvement of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) which is in the midst of being taken over by BlackRock which is touted as a pro-Zionist global fund manager.

Perhaps acting on the party’s groundswell has prompted Zahid’s deputy in UMNO, Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan (fondly known as Tok Mat) to express reservations over the deal when he graced the UMNO Jasin division delegates’ meeting in Melaka over the weekend.

This coincidentally is in sync with the stance of UMNO Youth helmed by the movement’s vocal and nationalistic Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh. Doubtlessly, such stance runs afoul to Anwar’s desire to see the deal through.

Anwar, who is also Finance Minister, had contended that the government could not severe ties with businesses simply for having trade relations with Israel.

Siding Anwar

“What about companies that operate in the US, Germany or China but have ties to Israel? In the current situation, we cannot cut ties as it would affect the country’s economy,” the Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman was quoted as saying.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, Zahid opted to back his boss’ stance over BlackRock and brushed off Mohamad Hasan’s view on the matter as a personal one.

After all, Zahid has much to be thankful for his Cikgu Anwar. In the aftermath of the 15th General Election (GE15), despite winning only 26 parliamentary seats, UMNO was co-opted into the unity government with Zahid being made DPM.

In his trial for 47 counts of corruption last year, Zahid received a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) despite the prosecutors having already established a prima facie case during the court proceedings.

It is against this backdrop and Zahid’s overly sycophantic behaviour towards Anwar that has made the UMNO grassroots deeply uneasy, especially considering decades of bad blood between the party and both Anwar and the so-called ‘DAP-dominated’ PH.

Tok Mat is not the only one in UMNO who has taken a swipe at the government’s decision over the MAHB deal although he is the most high-profile to do so.

Apart from Akmal who had reportedly articulated that “MAHB would not go bankrupt without BlackRock”, the party’s Federal Territories information chief Gulam Muszaffar has even suggested that the Finance Minister’s post be handed over to UMNO to solve this impasse in an apparent swipe at Anwar who is also Finance Minister.

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