Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best.– Otto von Bismarck, German statesman who masterminded the unification of Germany
My, oh, my, what a week it was! Malaysians were treated to a weeklong political circus — perhaps not the greatest political show on earth, nevertheless still the greatest by any Malaysian standards.
The show apparently appeared to have come to an end, following a week-long political upheaval which kept Malaysians, Sarawakians in particular, on tenterhooks — or that’s what we all thought so — with the King’s announcement on Feb 29 of the appointment of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the next prime minister and his eventual swearingin as the country’s eighth premier yesterday.
But no sooner had the palace picked Muhyiddin as the prime minister, than Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (the man to blame for the crisis) came out into the open, crying foul play, and questioning the legality of Muhyiddin’s appointment.
This adds a fresh twist to the already volatile situation.
Dr Mahathir claims he has the numbers to form the new government. Everyone claims to have the magical numbers. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the PKR supremo, claimed a few days earlier that he too had the numbers. Not to be outdone, Muhyiddin announced he had the numbers also. The King thought so and expressed confidence Muhyiddin would command the support of the majority. So here we have Muhyiddin as our prime minister.
I pray I too can get a set of magical numbers — I mean a winning combination for the multi-million-ringgit lottery draws. Unlike our political friends, where the candidates to become the eighth prime minister did not have to wait long for their “winning numbers”, I am still waiting for mine — it has been decades now — to be a jackpot winner.
Yesterday, I bought a combination of 1925 and 1947 (being the birth years of Dr Mahathir and Muhyiddin). The numbers failed to make me a winner. As usual, I was the loser; didn’t come anywhere close. While Muhyiddin is laughing all the way to Putrajaya, I am crying all the way to the ATM — to withdraw more money, to invest more in lotteries, hoping to strike it sooner or later.
I am confident I will strike it rich someday. Didn’t someone say gamblers are the most optimistic people in the world? Somehow, I feel I should join politics. There’s sure big money out there!
Anyway, back to serious business. At the point of writing this column, Dr Mahathir appears to have garnered the support of 114 MPs. That’s what he claims. Anwar appears to have had a change of heart. Suddenly, he realised he had a “political soft spot” for Dr Mahathir and that his heart is with the latter.
So with Anwar now throwing his weight behind Dr Mahathir, and several party hoppers jumping from one side to the other and back like nobody’s business, the latter hastily produced yesterday what he thought were his “winning” numbers to form the government.
That’s the farthest Dr Mahathir could go. It proved too little, too late. The King earlier did not grant him an audience and the rest is history. Muhyiddin was sworn in at 10.30am and is officially our eighth prime minister. Congratulations!
Reporters at a hastily-arranged media conference were given a dose of Dr Mahathir’s sarcasm.
“The losers form the government. The winners lose the right to form the government. It is a very strange situation. The rule of law no longer applies.” This was the former premier’s sarcasm at its finest.
Now, what’s going to happen in the next few days is anyone’s guess. But knowing Dr Mahathir, the Grand Old Man of Malaysian politics isn’t prepared to throw in the towel yet. He will go down fighting.
Dr Mahathir & Co. will request for an early parliamentary sitting, and hope to call for a confidence motion to determine the MPs’ support for Muhyiddin.
Parliament is poised to sit on March 9. But Dr Mahathir thinks there is a likelihood of Muhyiddin’s government “delaying for as long as it likes.”
But that would mean MPs would not be able to officially express their support for the new premier.
Muhyiddin’s immediate task is to select members of his Cabinet and present it to the King for his consent.
This shouldn’t be a problem as he has reportedly declared he has the numbers — meaning he has the required minimum 112 MPs backing him.
Article 43 (1) of the Federal Constitution states:
“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall appoint a Cabinet of Ministers to advise him in the exercise of his functions.”
And Article 43 (2) (a) states:
The Cabinet shall be appointed as follows, that is to say:
“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall first appoint as Prime Minister to preside over the Cabinet a member of the House of representatives who in his judgement is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the House.
And subsection (b) of the sameArticle states:
“He shall on the advice of the Prime Minister appoint other ministers from among the members of either House of Parliament.”
It is interesting to note that the constitution is deafeningly silent about whether the chosen prime minister has the power to select a Cabinet of ministers before parliament is convened.
Let’s wait and see what happens over the next few days. In the meantime, let us all pray that all’s well that ends well.
Before I sign off, I would like to reproduce in verbatim a short message from a WhatsApp group about party hoppers.
“I’m very very disappointed with all these party hoppers. Lompat sini, lompat sana, lompat balik… Maybe they jump kerana pasal duit.
“Don’t call them katak. Kataks are adorable and cute creatures. Bagus we call these hoping YBs mudskippers. In Malay we call these creatures belacak, belodok or tembakul.
“These belacak move into any openings or holes along the river banks at the speed of lightning. You see these creatures jumping into one hole and in the blink of an eye, move to another.
Some of our YBs are jumping as fast as these ugly mudskippers!” Come on lah, where are your principles.”
I think I agree with this chap. Let’s not call them political frogs, call them mudskippers or belacak.