PAS sets a trap for Mahathir

By P Gunasegaram

SOMETIMES the way to set a trap for a person with a large ego, who unrealistically believes in his own infallibility and unflinchingly has faith in his own unjustifiable importance against all facts that point to the contrary, is to simply flatter him.

It will lull him to a state of deep complacency and make him think that he is truly invincible without him pondering far enough into the future to know what is the true intention of that praise. By the time he realises it, it will be too late.

That is the nature of the trap that PAS has set for interim prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad when it proposes a vote of confidence for him to continue as prime minister in the coming session of Parliament. Umno, PAS’ new partner, remains coy and uncommitted at the time of writing.

But whoever heard of a vote of confidence when there is no necessity for one? There is no point in affirming a status quo. If somehow, PAS’ motion gets put on the floor, then it is nearly certain to be passed, at least by those who vote – more than that number can simply abstain.

So what is PAS’ aim in wanting to affirm Mahathir’s position as PM, in itself a strange thing for a member of the opposition to do? That’s a ploy to get Mahathir to continue as PM as near as possible to the next election.

The way that helps PAS and the opposition is that it will give prime-minister-in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim very little time to do anything to swing the tide of opinion which has firmly moved against Harapan as many opposition polls and the last few by-elections have amply demonstrated.

If Mahathir thinks that when the time comes he can jump on to the PAS-Umno bandwagon and do a deal whereby he becomes the interim supreme leader for the sake and in the name of ketuanan Melayu, he will be sadly mistaken. You can’t play that same trick again so soon. 

For PAS and Umno know that they can win the election without him. Tanjong Piai, where Bersatu was soundly trounced, has clearly shown that with an unprecedentedly large loss for a ruling party in a by-election.

As I explained in this article, that by-election showed that Bersatu, and by implication Mahathir, enjoyed neither the support of the Malays nor the non-Malays, both sides being angered by his poor showing as PM and his constant berating of Malays as lazy and his old exhortations that wealth has to be shared and that the needs of Malays have to be taken care of.

If anything, Mahathir will be a burden to PAS and Umno if he aligns with them in the next election. All they want is for him to continue being the poor prime minister that he has been so far until the next election so that they will win after that. And they will if Mahathir does not give Anwar a chance.

Hopefully, Mahathir still has the presence of mind and a willingness to consider other things and the consequences of his actions. If the other side comes into power, think in terms of former PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his deputy then Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi getting a pardon.

Considering that Mahathir has initiated no reforms to limit the powers of the PM and to move towards independence of institutions, think of changes at the top and of retribution moves towards Mahathir, his trusted lieutenant Tun Daim Zainuddin, Mahathir’s children, his friends, key Harapan ministers etc, etc.

Mahathir has to realise or must be made to realise that it is in his own self interest to ensure that Harapan wins the next general elections. Otherwise, things are going to get very tough for him, his family and friends and for the rest of us as a corrupt, kleptocratic government with all key members having received kickbacks from Najib returns to power and wreaks its vengeance. 

That is the trap that has been set for Mahathir and he seems to be ready to fall into it and bite that bait, hook, line and sinker. It does not help that in the face of this kind of seduction by PAS, he rather carelessly says he has no problem handing over power but the next PM must get majority support from Parliament.

Uh? What’s that again? Did Harapan lose its majority in Parliament? As long as Mahathir and the rest of the MPs in Harapan support Anwar as the next Harapan choice for PM – and they have an obligation and duty to the public to do that – that issue does not even arise.

If Mahathir knows what is good for him, his family and friends and the rest of us, he will do what he promised the electorate. He will announce a date soon for his stepping down and give and urge unreserved support for Anwar. And yes, campaign unconditionally for Harapan too for GE15 with no thought of influence – 22 +2 years is enough.

Mahathir has failed in round two as PM to do anything major for the country other than help the transition process to a new government. His second chance of remedying the wrongs he made in the first round has gone. He has done his part and it is time for him to go and let someone else take over. If Anwar disappoints, that’s another story but for now, he should succeed Mahathir. Mahathir’s will cannot prevail over that of the people.

The country cannot afford its collective will to be changed by devious deceptions and unholy alliances which produce outcomes far different from what the electorate intended or wanted.

You can’t sleep with the devil and be an angel. 

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