As political psywar escalates, elected reps turn kingmakers

With Pakatan Harapan (now known as Pakatan Plus) claiming to have the majority to reclaim Putrajaya, the role of Istana Negara takes centre stage again.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, however, is unlikely to officially meet anyone except Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad insists he is still Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman, as expressed during a press conference yesterday. Some wonder if he will try to seek an audience with the King but sources said the Palace’s diplomatic answer to calls from various parties about such a meeting has been simply “no”.

If the King were to grant Dr Mahathir an audience, then he would have to do the same with other parties to be fair.

Dr Mahathir resigned as Malaysia’s 7th Prime Minister in late February in a political turbulence that saw Pakatan crumbling as several leaders turned their backs on their respective parties.

This forced Al-Sultan Abdullah to “interview” each MP, an unprecedented move, which led to Muhyiddin being named as Malaysia’s 8th Prime Minister.

Muhyiddin, who is president and acting chairman of Bersatu, said his meeting with his party’s Supreme Council members on Thursday night was held in “orderly fashion” and that Bersatu maintains its objective of being part of Perikatan Nasional.

Perikatan is powered by the unregistered and loose coalition of Bersatu (or at least a portion of it), Umno and PAS.

The appointment of several Umno leaders to head government-linked companies in recent weeks was something Dr Mahathir raised during the press conference yesterday.

“We are going back to the days of (Datuk Seri) Najib (Razak) where politicians are getting nice jobs. As time goes on there will be worse things happening,” Dr Mahathir said

A source close to the Palace said: “Perhaps, there could be personal conversations with the King but officially, the King is unlikely to entertain anymore requests as he had already made a decision based on the Constitution and the next step will have to be Parliament.

“But who actually has the majority today and what are the numbers? No one knows. It’s just a guessing game and everyone is coming up with a theory to stay relevant.”

The burung kenyalang (Rhinoceros Hornbill) was widely mentioned by several PH leaders on Twitter on Thursday night. This led to the presumption that PH has Sarawak, an important political ally due to its numbers, on its side. The burung kenyalang is the State Bird and is featured in Sarawak’s emblem.

Once again, it’s merely a psywar with no confirmation or numbers revealed.

Last night, Lubok Antu MP Jugah Muyang quit PKR and pledged his support to Muhyiddin and PN.

Even Dr Mahathir could not provide an answer when asked if PH has the majority during the press conference yesterday. The 94-year-old said: “Well, numbers keep on appearing and disappearing. We don’t know.

“What we do know is at the time Muhyiddin was sworn in, he did not have the majority.”

Parliament is expected to convene from July 13 to Aug 27.

The best way to know if PH or PN has the majority is for the leaders of these factions to assemble their teams and put it on record that they have the majority to run the country.

Alas, that will not happen anytime soon as it is the average MPs who are now playing kingmakers.

In fact, several of these MPs are just waiting to see which alliance will be more rewarding.

It is publicly known that Umno and Barisan Nasional are pushing for a general election. Given their successes in the series of by-elections, and former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s somewhat overwhelming popularity in recent times, Umno seems confident of reclaiming power.

Nevertheless, Umno is not free from internal squabbles. Once seen as a party with a structured grooming process, it has been a free-for-all post-GE14. Najib and his one-time deputy Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi are aiming to become the next prime minister. There are others too who think they fit the bill.

There are also those who maintain Dr Mahathir is 10 steps ahead and will eventually reclaim Putrajaya. Perhaps, resigning in February was his way of showing Malaysians the severe lack of leadership among PH and even PN and that he could not trust anyone – and has been rightfully proven.

There is also Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who hopes to fulfill his more than 20-year ambition of becoming prime minister.

With Dr Mahathir, Muhyiddin, Najib, Ahmad Zahid and Anwar eager to stamp their marks, the fate of Malaysia and its people now remains in the hands of MPs who will go for the “right deal”.