We have all heard it before from the same person: “I have the numbers to become the next Prime Minister.” It was first uttered in April 2008, then again just before the Pakatan Harapan administration fell, and again yesterday. It has, thus far, come to a nought.
It may have come as a shocker for many. The KLCI fell 0.7 percent and closed nine points lower on Wednesday after the announcement was made. To be fair, the KLCI has been on bearish for almost a month now. It was at 1578.55 points on August 24th and is at 1496.48 points on September 23rd.
Other than that, Anwar’s claim has been met with scepticism. “We will have to wait to see if this is another episode of making claims that cannot be substantiated,” said Dr Mahathir over Zoom at Nutanix ASEAN CIO Virtual Summit about his former deputy who is famous for making repeated unsubstantiated claims of having support for the premiership. Many others think that it is just Anwar’s way to ensure that the voters in Sabah’s state elections will jump on the Pakatan Plus band wagon and support ‘the winning team.’
Numbed by Anwar’s occasional antics, I hardly find his announcement believable, let alone a shocker. However, a statement that followed and made by another politician got the ‘WTF’ reaction from me. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, whose court case against him is far more solid than the one against Najib Razak, announced that UMNO and BN cannot stop any of its Members of Parliament wanting to support Anwar to form a government with Pakatan Plus. As a matter of fact, Ahmad Zahid said that he ‘respects’ the decision made by the UMNO MPs wanting to jump to the other side.
For a few hours there was silence on the part of Zahid’s supporters. And then came the spin – the statement is a ploy by Zahid to pressure Muhyiddin’s ‘greedy’ PPBM into asking for a dissolution of Parliament and the calling of a general election. In other words, according to his supporters, Zahid is extorting Muhyiddin for a general election to be called.
For the life of me, I find that the lamest excuse that I have ever heard in wanting to dissolve a Parliament. In order to try get a general election going, all it needs for UMNO to do is to leave the PN government, or maybe Zahid has never read and understood the Federal Constitution. Once the sitting Prime Minister has lost the confidence of the majority of the members of the Lower House, he shall tender the resignation of himself and that of his cabinet, or advice the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament. That is all it takes. No extortion needed, and UMNO does not have to be in an administration that DAP is member of. It is a bizarre statement coming from Zahid, the President of UMNO.
But Zahid, and his ill-read supporter should also remember this: Parliament can continue for five years from the date of its first meeting till its next dissolution, and in the meantime, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can appoint another member of Parliament whom, in His Majesty’s judgment, has the confidence of the majority of the House’s members. So, Zahid can threaten Muhyiddin but the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can still refuse to dissolve Parliament. That would be a double whammy for UMNO. And looking at how fluid things are, not one party would dare to go through a general election now until forced to in 2023. So, is UMNO ready to be partners with PKR, DAP and Amanah? I strongly doubt it.
UMNO’s No.2, Mohamad Hasan, said that UMNO is still part of the PN administration and shall continue to support it. “Any change in its stance must be decided by the party,” he said when commenting on the issue. Other UMNO MPs such as Nazri Aziz, Shahidan Kassim and Khairy Jamaluddin have all rubbished the claims.
A word of advice for UMNO. Winning seven by-elections does not mean that the whole country is now rooting for you. In a general election, the game is played differently. Majority of the urban voters are still against you. Sabah has not exactly accepted you. Sarawak still cannot trust your Muafakat Nasional partner, PAS. The nation only accepts Muhyiddin and his multi-party band of senior ministers. Not even the rest of Muhyiddin’s cabinet has the trust of the people. With Zahid trying to play big brother, the wounds of the last general election will bleed again, and people will remember the greedy UMNO that they brought down two years ago. You are now part of a government without having to wait another three years to go through an election – so be thankful.
As for Zahid, he should learn to behave more like a statesman than a numbnut. He often speaks before his brain could process the outcome. A party president is the person who sets the path on which the members in his party should follow. If he, as UMNO’s President, cannot control his MPs to form an administration with PKR and possibly DAP as he says, he has no business staying on as the party president claiming that he is looking after the interests of the Bumiputeras. Or is there a deal that he has made with Anwar for a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card? If that is true, then shame on him.