COMMENT | Would you vote for Mahathir's new party?

James Chai

Modified 11 Aug 2020, 12:11 am

COMMENT | In early June, I wrote about Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s decision to sack his predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his sympathisers from Bersatu. I said it was strategic because Mahathir would be left without a party. Without a party, he would have no authority, platform, or influence.

The standard assumption was that it was highly unlikely Mahathir would join an existing party and that he would only take the radical step of starting a new party as a last resort. That is why Muhyiddin dared to sack Mahathir – he had time and resources on his side.

Therefore, it is now surprising that Mahathir has to resort to the extreme step of forming a new party.

Of course, his first option was to abandon his Pakatan Harapan allies and form a new government with the largest Malay parties, with him as the prime minister. We know from insider knowledge that this was always in the works. But Muhyiddin, of all people, beat him to it.

Then, Mahathir’s new option was to use his Harapan allies to regain power as prime minister after the betrayal. He told Harapan that the Perikatan Nasional schemers used his name and he never intended to abandon his coalition allies. However, Harapan could not agree to allow Mahathir as prime minister – even for six months. This option failed too.

Later, Mahathir decided to use an old tactic from the playbook – a proxy. He proposed Warisan president Shafie Apdal as prime minister and his son, Mukhriz Mahathir, as deputy. Anyone but PKR president Anwar Ibrahim. This was shot down too, due to PKR’s insistence on putting Anwar as prime minister.

Finally, Mahathir tried to...

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