Here’s Why Mahathir’s Plan To Break Tradition In Port Dickson Is A Double-Edged Sword

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Oct 07 2018
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Anwar Ibrahim has been campaigning so hard as if his life depends on it. There’s little doubt that the prime-minister-in-waiting will definitely win the by-election engineered by his camp to get him ready for the ultimate throne. However, as the iconic figure, his headache isn’t about winning but rather – to win the Port Dickson seat with a mind-boggling majority.


The expectation is extremely high. There is no room for complacency and Anwar knew that it’s not a walk in the park. From jogging barefooted along the Teluk Kemang beach and posted the stunt on Instagram, to his dancing gig at a “ceramah (campaign gathering)” to canvass for the Indian votes, Anwar is leaving nothing to chance. A weak victory is as good as a disaster.


The question of him being impatience to become the 8th Prime Minister of Malaysia has expired. Now that the campaign has reached the mid-point, the new question is whether he can swing the Malay vote, the vote bank which is split among the racist UMNO Malay nationalist party, the extremist PAS Islamist party and the new government of Pakatan Harapan.

Port Dickson By-Election - Anwar Ibrahim Jogging On Beach

On paper, Anwar appears to have the ethnic Indian and Chinese voters in his pocket. Seriously, with the hatred sentiment against the corrupt UMNO and ex-premier Najib Razak still at record high, Mr. Anwar doesn’t need much bitching to win over the Indian and Chinese voters. There’s a reason why Port Dickson was chosen to enable him to make a comeback to the Parliament.


The Port Dickson parliamentary constituency has 75,770 registered voters, comprising 43% Malays, Chinese (33%), Indians (22%) and others (2%). Winning over 55% of the votes before the battle can even begin means Anwar has the upper hand against other candidates. Still, there’s the risk of complacent voters not coming out to vote for him.


If Anwar wins without a landslide majority, his status as the PKR (People’s Justice Party) president would take a plunge among the 4 component parties making up the Pakatan Harapan coalition ruling government. His chance to take over the premiership from Mahathir would be jeopardised and his legitimacy could be challenged for obvious reason.

Prime Minister-in-Waiting – Anwar Ibrahim

The biggest problem with the Port Dickson by-election is not only the perception about Anwar’s impatience, but also the rumours that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was working quietly to ensure Anwar comes out with a humiliating victory. The rumours have it that independent candidate Mohd Isa Samad is actually the proxy candidate of Mahathir.


Mohd Isa Samad, one of UMNO warlords who surprisingly quit the party to contest the Port Dickson by-election, was formerly a “Mahathir man”. The highly tainted former Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar (Chief Minister) has threatened to unleash personal attacks against Anwar over his 1998’s “Sodomy 1.0” scandal, if Anwar dares to bring up his corruption scandal with Felda.


So far, Mr. Anwar has been careful not to step on Mr. Isa’s toes, suggesting that there were some truths to the speculations that Mohd Isa Samad was indeed sponsored by Mahathir. It also suggests that Anwar, despite his royal pardon and nationwide campaign reciting the mantra that he was not a homosexual, has not been that successful in “erasing” such perception.

Adding insult to the injury, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, the sodomy victim in Anwar’s “Sodomy 2.0” scandal, was miraculously parachuted in the Port Dickson by-election. Mr. Saiful’s presence obviously was architected by hidden hands to embarrass Anwar Ibrahim and to remind conservative Malay-Muslim voters their moral responsibility to reject the prime-minister-in-waiting.


Already, pro-UMNO cybertroopers, propagandists and bloggers have been burning midnight oil, cooking stories about “Sodomy 3.0” to be slapped on Anwar Ibrahim by PM Mahathir Mohamad. Sure, another episode of Anwar bonking a cute boy might seem overkill, but the audience being targeted isn’t the Indians or Chinese or the liberal Malays, but the conservative Malay folks.


Port Dickson has become such an interesting by-election that everyone believes Anwar and Mahathir are at each other’s throats. Speculation of suspicions and distrust between the pair has refused to go away despite declarations of support for each other. Heck, even if Anwar and Mahathir willingly hug and kiss each other to prove it, nobody would believe them.

Anwar Ibrahim and Mahathir Mohamad

The perception that something is cooking has intensified following the self-declaration by UMNO newly crowned President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that the party is a “government-in-waiting” and is willing to work with any party. However, there’s one issue with the storyline – the script is too predictable, so much so that it defies the law of Mahathirism.


There is a saying that if something seems too good to be true, you should be suspicious of it because it seems better than you had expected. Having witnessed how the cunning 93-year-old Mahathir slaughtered the mighty UMNO after ruling the land for 61 years, will a wiser Anwar clumsily challenge the old man, despite many articles written warning him against rocking the boat?


In the same breath, does the world’s oldest prime minister believe his party could pull out another magic show despite winning only 13 seats out of 222 parliamentary seats? Unlike when he was the captain of the UMNO gigantic ship in 1998, it would be difficult to sell another sodomy story to imprison Anwar again, not to mention DAP doesn’t want the boat to be rocked.

Anwar Ibrahim with Mahathir Mohamad - Friend Turn Foe Turn Friend

Perhaps there was a plan – at the initial stage – by Anwar Ibrahim, emboldened by his party being the largest in the Pakatan coalition, to betray everyone and work with UMNO and PAS so that he could become the new prime minister as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed. UMNO has been weakened by defections and PAS has been terrified by Mahathir’s brilliant manoeuvre.


In an unprecedented move where a sitting prime minister usually does not campaign in by-elections, PM Mahathir has decided to go down to campaign in order to quell talk of a falling out between him and Anwar Ibrahim. Mahathir said – “They’re talking about my quarrel with Anwar and saying I don’t support Anwar because of the quarrel.” And Anwar was extremely delighted.


Mahathir’s campaign in the Port Dickson by-election, scheduled on Monday, would wipe the naughty rumours that there was bad blood between him and Anwar, his deputy whom he had sacked in 1998 due to “Sodomy 1.0” scandal. Anwar, of course, was pleased with Mahathir’s plan to appear in Port Dickson because it would mean there isn’t a plan by Mahathir to deny him of the premiership.

Mahathir Mohamad - Blue Suit

Mahathir’s presence will definitely swing more votes for Anwar simply because it would be a humiliation to the grand old man himself if he fails to mobilise his supporters to give Anwar a credible majority. UMNO, of course, will be further devastated and demoralised when Mahathir and Anwar eventually share the same stage – hugging, laughing and dancing together.


Still, Mahathir’s presence to solicit votes for Anwar can be twisted and spun by haters as proof that the prime-minister-in-waiting is so weak that he needs rescue from the same old man who had imprisoned him 20 years ago. They would argue that Anwar Ibrahim wins the Port Dickson not on his own merit, but was a “charity” from the popular PM Mahathir.


More importantly, Mahathir’s campaigning for Anwar would be seen as proof that the Pakatan Harapan coalition could collapse upon the latter taking over thanks to the perception that Anwar could not rally the crucial Malay voters the same way Mahathir could. Its worth to note that under Anwar’s leadership, the opposition had failed since 1998 to dislodge UMNO, until the emergence of Mahathir.

Banner - Mahathir and Anwar

It’s true that everyone will be speculating right to the day Mahathir steps down and Anwar takes the oath of office. That’s because the tag-team of Mahathir-Anwar will be the most powerful partnership this country will ever see again since their 1998 clashes. Opposition parties UMNO and PAS would love to see these two tigers fight each other to their death, now that their common enemy Najib Razak had been defeated.


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