There is a saying. If you can act stupid and make people believe you are stupid then you are actually very clever, cleverer than those people who think you are stupid. And when you are up against a devious enemy, in particular an enemy or many enemies in the blanket, then you need to take advantage of ploys, dexterity, cunningness and sleight of hand to get the better of those who are trying to do you in.
Students of Sun Tzu would understand this perfectly well. Malays do not understand Sun Tzu but they do have their own proverbs to describe the same situation. Malays call it bodoh–bodoh sepat. Sepat is fish that lurks in paddy fields. And it remains very still without moving, giving you the impression that it is a stupid fish. Even as your hands get closer it still remains still and does not move. And then, zap, it stings you as it swims away smiling.
Okay, I am exaggerating here. Fish do not smile. But if they did this sepat would certainly be smiling at how easily it conned you into thinking it is stupid and then stung you as you grabbed it.
And that is Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, bodoh-bodoh sepat, while those gunning for him are bodoh-sombong, which means dahlah bodoh, sombong pulak.
Within 72 hours of Khairuddin Abu Hassan making that police report against Najib, Najib already knew who was behind him. Many thought that since Khairuddin was Matthias Changâ€™s tag-team, and since Matthias was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamadâ€™s man, that means Khairuddin must also be Dr Mahathirâ€™s man.
However, 72 hours later, Najib knew that Khairuddin was the then Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassinâ€™s man. But Najib did not react to that. He remained calm and collected and did not reveal that he knew who Khairuddin was really working for. And once Najib knew who his real enemy was, and that the man pretending to support him was actually the man really holding the dagger, it was easy for him to plan his strategy and set his traps.
Najib could have killed Muhyiddin off long before this, within the same week that Muhyiddin made his move. But he did not want to do that. Najib wanted Muhyiddin to continue to think that he did not know Muhyiddinâ€™s role in this whole thing and that he was the prime mover. He wanted to lull Muhyiddin into complacency and see who else will surface and reveal their true colours.
When you are stalking a prey you need to set your traps and be very patient, not moving or making a sound. When others are stalking you and have set their traps, and you want them to walk into their own traps, then you have to remain even more patient without moving or making a sound.
Turning the hunter into the hunted and making sure that you do not need to shoot the hunter but make that hunter shoot himself or herself is a skill that not many people have. And this is a skill that Najib possesses and which he used to his advantage over the last year or so.
Shooting the hunter so that he now becomes the hunted is easy. Many people can do that. Making the hunter walk into his or her own trap and suffer a most agonising death is what separates the men from the boys. And Najib proved he is the man while all the rest are still just boys.
Najib wrote the script on how those who are braying for his blood will see their own blood spilled instead. And to do that you not only need to be clever but you need to be patient as well. And this was the game that Najib played, the game of patience. He did not want to kill his enemies who were stalking him. He wanted them to commit suicide. And that is precisely what they did. They committed suicide one by one.
Najib played them like a cat playing a mouse. He allowed them space to make as many mistakes as they wanted. He wanted these mistakes to be their downfall. And the more mistakes they make the surer their downfall was going to come.
In that sense Najib is smarter than Dr Mahathir. When Dr Mahathir wanted to neutralise Anwar he removed him as the Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy President and Umno member all in one go. Najib did not do that. He first removed Muhyiddin as the Deputy Prime Minister and then left him alone. When Muhyiddin continued with his nonsense Najib let the party remove him as the Deputy President. However, Muhyiddin was not removed as a member.
And now, as Muhyiddin continues pushing his luck, he is going to suffer the final stage of his demise. He is going to see himself removed as a member as well. And that would be three strikes and you are out.
Did Najib kill Muhyiddin like how Dr Mahathir killed Anwar? Najib just removed Muhyiddin as the Deputy Prime Minister, which is the prerogative of the Prime Minister. And then he stopped there. And this gave Muhyiddin the impression that he is still in the safe zone because Najib does not dare proceed beyond that.
It is not that Najib did not dare go further. He wanted Muhyiddin to go further and walk into his own traps. He wanted Muhyiddin to die at his own hands. And that is what Muhyiddin did and is continuing to do.
Dr Mahathir also miscalculated Najib and the sentiments of the Umno people. He thought that after one year of blasting away regarding 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion Najibâ€™s support base would have whittled away. So Dr Mahathir, Muhyiddin and the ANC (Anti-Najib Campaign) played their trump card in July 2015.
Then Najib made his move after six months of playing bodoh-bodoh sepat. He launched his purge and all those with drawn daggers fell. It was a move that Dr Mahathir, Muhyiddin and the ANC thought Najib would never dare make and even if he did Umno would not stand for it.
But Najib did dare make that move and he made it at the end of July 2015. And Umno did not rise up in protest. Dr Mahathir, Muhyiddin and the ANC miscalculated and they lost. Muhyiddinâ€™s removal as Deputy Prime Minister was a non-event that hardly cause a ripple except for some whimpering and barking.
Then Dr Mahathir, Muhyiddin and the ANC continued their attacks. Their July 2015 plot failed. So they planned the October 2015 plot â€” Najibâ€™s removal through a vote of no confidence in Parliament. That, too, failed. So they launched the next plan, the plot to remove Najib during the Umno General Assembly in December 2015. And that failed as well. Three attempts and all failures.
Then Najib made his second strike. And that was when Umno removed Mukhriz Mahathir as the Kedah Menteri Besar. But Najib did not want to be the executioner. The Kedah State Secretary prepared Mukhrizâ€™s letter of resignation and the Kedah Royal Council at the behest of HRH the Sultan made him sign it.
So Najib did not sack Mukhriz. Mukhriz resigned. And he resigned by titah or Royal Command. And that was the most brilliant move yet which would go down in history and be remembered for a long time to come.
And then Umno removed Muhyiddin as the partyâ€™s number two. Yes, the party, not Najib, removed Muhyiddin.
Strike three. And as they say: three strikes and you are out.
And now Muhyiddin wants to take his case to the Registrar of Societies and challenge his removal. He is even considering going to court. Once that happens it is all over. All those who have taken their case to the RoS or to court have all seen their political careers end up in smoke. G. Palanivel, Anwar Ibrahim, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, are but just some examples.
You hold on to your position through tangible political support. You do not go crying to court or to the RoS to get them to help you hold on to your position. And you do not try garnering intangible political support by getting non-members or the opposition to help keep you in power. And this is what Dr Mahathir, Muhyiddin and the ANC are trying to do.
This is like the Afghan, Libyan or Iraqi governments trying to stay in power with the support of the American forces. It never works because it does not have the support of its own people. Dr Mahathir, Muhyiddin and the ANC, however, think that Lim Kit Siang and the DAP-led Pakatan Harapan can help them oust Najib so that Dr Mahathir and his proxy can grab power.
That is not called tangible political support. That is called intangible political support. Tangible can be measured. Intangible is in the mind. It is not what you see. It is what you think you see. It is a mirage that disappears as you get close.
Thus far Dr Mahathir, Muhyiddin and the ANC are doing exactly what Najib wants them to do. And I do not see why that should change. If they continue doing what Najib wants them to do, in time Muhyiddin, Shafie Apdal and Mukhriz are going to see themselves out in the cold. And Najib is not going to do anything to them. They are going to do it to themselves just like how Najib has planned it.
Dr Mahathir played his last card when he resigned. He thought that his resignation would turn the tide. But it did not. In fact, the tide swept him away. Now Dr Mahathir no longer has any card left to play. So now he has to borrow some of the opposition cards to continue playing. But that comes with a price. You make a deal with the devil and the devil will own your soul. And that devil comes in the form of the DAP-led Pakatan Harapan.-byÂ Raja Petra Kamarudin/Malaysia Today