Najib triumphs, Mahathir fails – at least, for now

angry couple_origWhat a humiliating climb-down for Muhyiddin Yassin. His removal as deputy prime minister, from Najib Razak’s Cabinet, has enraged his puppet master, Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Mahathir is probably gritting his teeth and fuming.

Najib chose his moment. He could have “silenced” Mahathir earlier but the shrewd Najib is aware that the former PM has a loyal following, especially among Malaysian youth, who did not live through Mahathir’s dictatorship.

So Najib bided his time, despite the flak. When Muhyiddin openly criticised him, at the weekend, over the 1MDB issue, Najib struck.

By Monday evening, Najib had sealed the fate of Muhyiddin and four other ministers, who were removed from the new Cabinet. Revenge is a dish that should be served cold.

Muhyiddin was replaced, not for incompetence, but for daring to do what most Malaysians have been doing for decades – exercising the right to speak up and express our opinion on the general state of government.

Opposition politicians like Tony Pua, and Rafizi Ramli dared to criticise Najib and his government on many issues. They received a travel ban. Will Muhyiddin be subject to a travel ban, too?

Only three months ago, Muhyiddin urged Malaysians to rally behind Najib. His call was echoed by Rafidah Aziz, Malaysia’s ‘Iron Lady’, who told Malaysians to support Najib.

Three months is like several lifetimes in politics, and a few days ago, as Najib’s position appeared tenuous, Muhyiddin finally made his move. His open criticism of Najib was a few months too late.

Before Muhyiddin could plan further, the normally “slow to act” Najib made his move and had Muhyiddin replaced.  Muhyiddin did not have much room to manoeuvre.

Another factor was acting against Muhyiddin – the Attorney General, Abdul Gani Patail, is believed to be Mahathir’s man. The AG could have brought charges against Najib, but the likelihood of Muhyiddin “persuading” the IGP to arrest Najib was negligible.

Muhyiddin had to race against time, because Gani Patail retires in October. Before he could blink, Najib removed Muhyiddin and then announced that the AG’s successor would be Apandi Ali, who is allegedly loyal to Najib.

The die was cast and the impenetrable fortress of Putrajaya is manned by Najib’s men.

Mahathir will have to try harder to breach the barbican of Putrajaya. He does not have much time. Apart from loyal local supporters, Najib has two international allies – Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and the US President Barack Obama.

Before long, the AG will announce that the uncertain veracity of the documents, relating to 1MDB will mean that the investigation will have to be restarted. Who’s to know that at some critical juncture, in the future, that more “forged documents” will be “discovered” and the process has to begin again, at square one?

All Najib’s new AG has to do, is to press “Reboot”. Before long, the 1MDB issue will disappear into obscurity, much like other scandals, such as PKFZ, Altantuya and NFC.

Najib’s two western allies, Cameron and Obama, love weak leaders because they are good for business and easily “persuaded”. This is just the international version of “You help me, I help you.” Does the TPPA ring a bell?

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