The Truth About Khairy Jamaluddin – 32
The Truth About Khairy Jamaluddin continues here:
Part 32 – The Battle Begins: Mahathir chooses his weapon
In December 1990, as he lay on his deathbed, First Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman received the unwelcome news that the then Prime Minister was about to come pay him a visit. According to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s staff, it was a ‘courtesy call’ upon the dying Bapa Malaysia who was spending his last few hours on this earth, generally at peace with himself after having delivered his final message to the people at a gathering in Kuching several days earlier. The Tunku wanted to let the world slip away without any rancour.
But Mahathir had come to disturb that idyll. He wanted to make his peace with the dying Father of Independence. Nevertheless, the Tunku was no hypocrite. He was not about to pretend he had suddenly changed his 25-year old feelings of contempt for the man who once called him ‘traitor to the Malays’. The Tunku did not want to pretend that he could so easily forgive Mahathir for all that he had done — including what the Tunku believed was the dismantling of the Malaysian democracy which he had so painfully established.
So the Tunku, in his usual puckish humour, decided to ‘fall asleep’. Mahathir came into the hospital room and addressed the Tunku respectfully, rambling on and on about how he really respected the man, all the while the Tunku ‘snored’ as if he was in a deep slumber. By doing so, he did not need to address Mahathir nor even acknowledge the presence of the Prime Minister. He faked a snooze in order to escape having to give a false impression that all was forgiven and forgotten.
16 years later, it was Mahathir’s turn to do the same to his own successor as Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. True, Mahathir is nowhere close to dying, nor is he even sick, but he too did not want to pretend that ‘all is forgiven’ nor that ‘all is well’ between him and Abdullah.
When Abdullah used a common friend (one of the doctors in his entourage) to arrange a meeting with Mahathir in Tokyo during the recent Nikkei conference in late May, Mahathir was of course reluctant to accept. But he could not refuse to meet the Prime Minister as he was told that Abdullah was already on his way to his hotel suite and could hardly turn back. Nevertheless, this did stop Mahathir from ‘doing a Tunku’. He pretended to be in a hurry and, after dismissing Abdullah with some hellos, grunts and umphs, the ‘courtesy call’ was all over in less than ten minutes. In spite of Kalimullah Hassan Masheerul Hassan’s and Brendan Pereira’s attempt to portray a reconciliation with the great giant of UMNO politics, the meeting had all the excitement of a hospital morgue.
As far as Mahathir was concerned, meeting Abdullah was an exercise in futility. Reconciliation with Abdullah was certainly something farthest from his mind. Mahathir had already decided to cross the bridge from which there is no turning back — in fact, he was burning the bridge as far as Abdullah is concerned. Mahathir is no longer thinking of how to depose Abdullah as UMNO President and Prime Minister but has instead devised a plan to unseat what he considers a most unworthy successor. Mahathir is no longer a critic of the government but a potent opponent who is dedicated to its overthrow. The former Prime Minister is now officially the Leader of the Opposition to Abdullah’s rule.
There are those who still believe that Mahathir’s hopes lie with Najib. This is no longer so. Najib has been well and truly discounted in spite of several last-minute attempts to prove himself a worthy inheritor of the Mahathir legacy. For example, knowing that he has been accused by the Mahathir faction of not being able to take advantage of Abdullah’s many wrong turns and strategic blunders, Najib recently consolidated his support among the anti-Khairy faction. He gave the opportunity for Reezal Merican Naina Merican to lead GPMS in spite of the fact that Reezal is now the most virulent anti-Khairy force in Abdullah’s office. Najib also managed to secure the acquiescence of that wishy-washy Suhaimi Ibrahim by promising him the kiss of life when he is already politically dead. Najib hoped that by doing so, he shows his mettle and ability to solve a problem in a society where the traditional leader has been Abdullah himself.
But Mahathir knows that Najib is a lame horse whose legs have been crippled by the piles of incriminating evidence Khairy has gathered from the Singapore secret service which will eventually be used to slay Najib and end his career in a shower of scandals. So Mahathir, while willing to accept that the fall of Abdullah may lead to a temporary succession of Najib, no longer relies on Najib to spearhead the movement to unseat Abdullah.
Mahathir’s secret weapon lies in three particular areas. The first, strangely enough, is in UMNO Youth, though not through Mukhriz. Many feel that Mahathir will launch his attack on Khairy, his most hated target, through either one of his politically active sons, Mukhriz or Mokhzani. While these two may stand for key positions in the next UMNO elections, Mahathir has actually groomed someone else with the calibre to match Khairy and displace him in a swift blitzkrieg of surprise. Mahathir’s choice has fallen on a young Oxbridge graduate, the son of a former cabinet minister who is meticulously building up his war kitty and is rapidly accumulating millions to finance his expenses at the UMNO elections. Coming from a long established political family, Mahathir’s stalking-horse is young, able and rich. The element of surprise is the most vital component for this weapon as the figure chosen by Mahathir is yet to appear on the national scene.
Khairy thinks that Mahathir’s choice is a dud. Of course, it is natural he should think so, given that he himself was in the early years considered unable to gather the support he currently enjoys. Mahathir’s choice, however, has the advantage of being relatively unknown with hardly any ‘surplus baggage’ bogging him down. In the UMNO elections to come, should Khairy choose to stay in the ranks of UMNO Youth, he will find himself facing a new personality who has all of his good traits but none of the bad publicity which he has thus far accumulated resulting from his many business and political misbehaviours.
The way Mahathir’s choice builds his support is not only through UMNO Youth but also through those other organisations inching their way into Mahathir’s camp. Amongst these are many professional organisations whose members are frankly too sick of Abdullah’s inabilities or too jealous of Khairy’s pre-eminence. They feel that they are the equals, if not Khairy’s betters, and are eager to offer themselves to Mahathir in the hope that when the change comes, they will exchange their low stations for Khairy’s lofty clouds.
Mahathir has been secretly meeting many of Khairy’s contemporaries, collecting data about Khairy’s personal life plus on his every move. In spite of the many opportunities to do so while he was Prime Minister, Mahathir had made the tactical error of not pursuing those leads when he had the chance then. Now he is actively picking them up and meeting with those young people who count Khairy as one of their current or former circles. They are quite happy to trade information for a pat on the back from the Grand Old Man of Malaysian politics.
Another of Mahathir’s weapon is the civil servants who are staffed at Abdullah’s office and other relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Finance. It is an open secret that many senior civil servants are disgusted with what they regard as Khairy’s direct interference in government policies and his constant pestering for projects through his stooges like Ahmad Zaki Zahid and others of that ilk. These civil servants continue to report to Mahathir almost all the scandals and misbehaviour associated with Khairy — including one recent case where Khairy influenced the sale of Malaysian government assets to a consortium of Singaporeans scouting for a company operating from the sensitive nation of Israel. Such information could not have surfaced if not for the connivance of insiders, just like most of the information in these Khairy Chronicles is obtained from disgruntled officers of many government agencies.
These scandals are indeed complex and difficult for the common public to understand. But if there is one knack which Mahathir has not lost, it is his ability to convey to the common people in the simplest of terms what is often a murky and intellectually challenging issue. Therein rests the biggest problem for Abdullah. Except when he is parroting Khairy’s words, Abdullah is not a great communicator like Mahathir. Faced with Abdullah, UMNO members quickly fall into la-la land whereas Mahathir can enthral an audience from start to finish. If Mahathir openly challenges Abdullah, there is no doubt that the latter would seem the weaker blunderer, stuttering from word to word, unable to form a coherent sentence or convince the audience.
In the meantime, anyone who has studied Mahathir in the last 25 years will know that he is the master of double-speak. Mahathir’s recent interviews should not be read at face value but instead examined for its hidden meaning. Mahathir is on a crusade, believing that only he can save the country from certain ruin. In such a crusade, all and every alliance should be considered. And even those whom Mahathir feel are spawns of the devil will eventually find themselves being considered in the great big fight against Abdullah. Readers may well think that we are suggesting some form of reconciliation between the battling figures which in the last eight years have coloured Malay politics. That may or may not be the case. What is true is that feelers are being sent by all parties and dogs may well marry cats before the next year is up…..
The Truth About Khairy Jamaluddin continues…in :
Part 33 – The Battle Begins: The Mahathir attack – Caesar becomes Brutus