Unable to persuade UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to ditch 10th Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, Opposition Perikatan Nasional had tried – and failed – to topple Zahid during the internal party election last month. With most of Zahid loyalists controlling the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the Unity Government appears unshakable.
About a week ago, former PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s effort to unfreeze his party’s accounts in CIMB and Ambank was torpedoed when Bersatu (Malaysian United Indigenous Party) accounts have been seized entirely. The move to freeze the accounts on January 12 and 13 under Section 44 of anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing was only valid for 90 days.
However, effective April 11, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) confirmed that the frozen accounts have been seized. Following four counts of abuse of power and two counts of money laundering slapped on Muhyiddin on March 10, the Section 50 instead of Section 44 goes into effect. In short, Bersatu is screwed because it will not be able to access its money.
Of course, Muhyiddin had stolen billions in the RM600 billion Covid scandal during his 17-month illegitimate backdoor government (March 2020 – August 2021). Some of those ill-gotten money had benefitted his partner – Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS – Parti Islam Se-Malaysia) – after which both parties spent lavishly to win 74 parliamentary seats in the Nov 2022 General Election.
The money in Bersatu accounts, first frozen and then seized, was just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the stolen money has either been siphoned to offshore accounts in Switzerland, Dubai or the United Kingdom, or being hidden in the country. The problem is the crooks cannot risk using the dirty money without being tracked and exposed by the authorities.
As the upcoming six state elections due between June and August this year, the Opposition is scrambling for funding to bribe voters. Any attempts to repeat last year’s mega election campaign would attract unwanted attention and investigation. The most damaging part is the corruption charges against Muhyiddin, who had managed to hoodwink gullible Malays that he was clean.
Even PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang is in trouble. He could lose his Marang parliamentary seat due to vote-buying. Unless they win overwhelmingly in the state elections (Selangor, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu), the troubles facing Perikatan Nasional could see the demise of Bersatu at worst, and the destruction of Bersatu-PAS alliance at best.
Anwar Ibrahim’s pledge to crack down on corruption has not only sent shivers down the spine of Muhyiddin, but also another ex-premier – Mahathir Mohamad. The writing was already on the wall when former powerful politicians like Daim Zainuddin and Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, the billionaire crony of Mahathir, are being targeted by the new government.
While the MACC has started investigations on the 84-year-old Daim in relation to his secret offshore accounts exposed in the Pandora Papers, 97-year-old Mahathir is set to clash with protégé-turned-nemesis Anwar in court over allegations that the former had enriched his family during his 22 years iron-fist rule (1981-2003) that saw corruption, nepotism and cronyism flourished.
Now, the old rumours and speculations continue spinning over new attempts to topple the Anwar-led unity government. Unlike the infamous “Sheraton Move” in 2020, when the democratically elected Pakatan Harapan government was overthrown by traitor Muhyiddin, who plotted with enemies to form the backdoor government, this round will see Mahathir and Daim taking the lead.
Like Mahathir, who served twice as prime minister (the second time lasted 22 months), Daim had also served twice as finance minister (1984-1991 and 1999-2001). Daim was Mahathir’s most trusted sidekick, so much so the former prime minister recommended Daim for the “Tun” title – the highest honour in Malaysia – when he resigned as Finance Minister in March 1991.
More importantly, Mr Daim accumulated a massive wealth that he had actually owned a Swiss bank – ICB Banking Group – which operated approximately 222 branches and 130 ATMs worldwide. Under the banking group, it owned another 14 banks throughout Asia. In addition, he was reported to own at least RM65 billion worth of shares in Malaysia stock market.
Imagine Mahathir’s private wealth when his trusted lieutenant was once the unreported richest man in the country. With Bersatu’s accounts out of reach, Daim and Mahathir were expected to fund all the expenses in the latest coup to overthrow Anwar, including the state elections as well as bribes for MPs in the current government to resign – forcing by-elections.
UMNO insiders claimed that 15 MPs, including 2 lawmakers from Anwar’ own party – PKR (People’s Justice Party) – are ready to switch sides, and re-contest under the Opposition banner after the mass resignations. Leading the UMNO traitors, saboteurs and provocateurs was former warlord Hishammuddin Hussein, who has been suspended by his own party for 6 years.
Hishammuddin was responsible for instigating 10 Barisan Nasional MPs to support rival Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin as 10th Prime Minister after the 15th general election that produced a hung Parliament. The list included Barisan component parties – two lawmakers from MCA (party president Wee Ka Siong and Wee Jeck Seng) and one MP from MIC (Saravanan).
While anti-hopping law prevents lawmakers from jumping ship unless it is through en-bloc defection, meaning Zahid (as president of UMNO) agrees to withdraw support for the unity government, a lawmaker who resigns is free to join another political party and still be able to contest without any penalty. This is due to a loophole – either deliberately or ignorantly designed.
Apparently, the anti-hopping provisions have “removed” Clause (6) of Article 48, which disqualifies a person from being a member of Dewan Rakyat (Lower House) for a period of 5 years if they resign their membership of the House of Representatives. Essentially, with the deletion of this restriction, it enables an MP who resigns to seek re-election at any time.
However, there’re some problems with the grand plan of Mahathir and Daim. First of all, who will become the next prime minister if the plot succeeds? It is believed that Muhyiddin was so desperate to avoid prison that he willingly offered the prime minister to GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak). But it hits an obstacle as the Borneo state is reluctant to leave without UMNO en bloc.
The negotiations and horse trading, which also involved PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan and Bersatu Azmin Ali, were struggling to convince GPS that the embarrassing episode about 6 months ago will not repeat. Back then, Muhyiddin had misled GPS chairman Abang Johari Openg into believing that 10 Barisan Nasional MPs will defect, only to be humiliated.
All hell broke loose when Zahid denied Barisan Nasional had engaged in any talks with Gabungan Parti Sarawak on forming a federal government with Perikatan Nasional. Without kingmaker Barisan Nasional (30 MPs), neither Pakatan Harapan (82 MPs) nor Perikatan Nasional (74 MPs) has the magic number to form a new government in the 222-seat Parliament.
Today, the unity government enjoys two-thirds majority support, delivering a stable and strong government desired by foreign investors. And GPS has been rewarded with deputy prime minister. Exactly why should it rock the boat and return to the previous 33-month unstable backdoor government that had spooked the economy, investors, stock market and local currency?
Secondly, even if Mahathir tries to cash his chips with Abdul Taib Mahmud, the most corrupt former Sarawak Chief Minister (1981-2014) who is now the Governor, GPS has to consider the displeasure of the Sarawakians over the cooperation with religious extremist PAS. Last November, Abang Johari was grilled by angry members over GPS’ hastily endorsement for Muhyiddin.
The mutiny started after the Borneo state premier entered a pact with Perikatan Nasional despite knowing PAS Islamist party has spewed anti-Christianity – even promote racist hatred, xenophobia, and all forms of bigotry. Racist bigot Muhyiddin said Christians were working with Jews to Christianise Malaysia, while Hadi tried to radicalise people with violent Islamic extremism.
Sarawak activist Peter John Jaban lectured and warned Abang Johari – “Sarawak has put its trust in GPS. Do not betray us now in a rush to sign a deal that all Malaysians will have to live with for the next 5 years and beyond. Muhyiddin’s bigoted anti-Christian statements on the eve of the election show at worst his own religious intolerance or his own willingness to use extremist sentiment to win an election.”
Over the weekend, Sarawak Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah was forced to retaliate against PAS, who opposed the setting up of a casino at the Borneo Highland as gambling is “haram” in Islam. He lectured the Islamist party that Sarawak is not just for Muslims, making it even harder for GPS and PAS to work together.
Thirdly, Sarawak’s top priority is the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), where Sabah and Sarawak were supposed to be equal partners to the former Federation of Malaya, but the deal has since been eroded and violated. Last week, Deputy PM Fadillah Yusof again reminded the 35% allocation of 222 seats in the Parliament for both Borneo states to safeguard its rights of resources.
To claim back its legitimate deal, one way is to redraw the boundaries and reallocate parliamentary seats in a redelineation exercise scheduled in 2026. Alternatively, it can also be done if the Parliament decides to increase the number of seats in the Lower House, which requires two-thirds majority support. Currently, only unity government has the magic numbers.
Fourth – there’s no guarantee that all the 15 MPs who resign and re-contest will win again their respective seats. For example, MCA president Wee Ka Siong retained his Ayer Hitam seat due to UMNO-Malay votes, as did Wee Jeck Seng (Tanjung Piai) and Saravanan (Tapah). Even Hishammuddin isn’t sure he can retain Sembrong seat if he were to contest under Perikatan Nasional banner.
Fifth – nobody knows if the so-called “green wave” tsunami during the 15th national polls will repeat itself. So, should the 15 MPs resign and contest at the same time the six state elections take place, or should they hold their horses and wait for the state election results to ensure they don’t make dumb decisions? If the tsunami has disappeared, what’s the point of committing “kamikaze”?
The fact that both Bersatu and PAS have been protesting vigorously over a petty issue – PM Anwar’s Hari Raya open house – suggests that the opposition actually lacks confidence it could do well in the coming state elections. Anwar’s approval rating now stands at 68%, not to mention the appreciation of Ringgit and China’s RM170 billion investment commitments after his visit to China.
Sixth – Daim must make irresistible offers to lure the 15 MPs to betray. Previously, former DAP Assemblywoman Hee Yit Foong was offered RM25 million by then-PM Najib Razak to betray her party in 2009, leading to the collapse of the Pakatan Rakyat state government in Perak. Therefore, the conservative price-tag should be between RM50 million to RM100 million for each MP.
That would cost Daim and Mahathir RM750 million to RM1.5 billion. Still, the total MPs are only 89 (Perikatan Nasional’s 74 MPs plus 15 traitors), short of 23 lawmakers. Even if Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS’ 6 MPs) and Warisan (3 MPs) join the bandwagon, it is 14 seats short of forming a simple majority government. Hence, Sarawak GPS participation is extremely vital.
This means Daim and Mahathir have to bribe not only 15 Barisan Nasional MPs, but a total of 38 MPs. The question is whether it’s worth burning between RM1.9 billion and RM3.8 billion without assurance it could topple Anwar. Would it be cheaper to strike a deal with the premier? Besides, how hard would it be for the PM to counter offer at least 15 MPs with chairmanship to neutralize the threat?
More importantly, the arrogant Muhyiddin and Hadi have betrayed, cheated, insulted, belittled and disrespected the royal households – from Sultan of Perak to King Sultan Abdullah. Worse, Mahathir was the same prime minister whose dispute with the Malaysian monarchs is a long-running feud that has lasted for over 40 years, stretching back as far as 1983.
Source : Finance Twitter