As the haze fizzles slowly and visibility gets clearer, the Malaysian political scenario in Umno gets clearer too as former party president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad unveils members of his team.
What appeared as a one-man determination to unseat party president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, it has now become a team which included deputy president who is former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, former Rural and Regional Development who is also party vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and MP for Gua Musang Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah are doing the same.
Under the excuse of accusing the federal government of abusing the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) on former Umno division vice-chairman Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan and his lawyer Mathaias Chang, the team main aim is to unseat Najib from Umno president thus the Prime Minister post.
The two individuals were charged in the magistrate’s court today with attempting to sabotage the country’s banking and financial sector when they lodged reports against 1MDB with authorities in France, Hong Kong, Singapore, United Kingdom and Switzerland.
Dr Mahathir has been on his crusade pushing Najib to resign following the 1MDB issue but he does not receive much response from Umno division leaders who control the grassroots, the members that concern who have the authority and power to oust the party president.
This is especially so at the present time when the voting system in the party has been changed to broad-base where some 146,000 of the 3 million members have the right to vote.
Tengku Razaleigh on the other hand, had tried to unseat Dr mahathir when the latter was party president in 1987 but lost marginally by just 45 votes of the 2,000-odd delegates who voted.
And now he is with Dr Mahathir although this time he is not contesting for the presidency.
Muhyiddin and Shafie were expelled from the Cabinet two months ago for openly questioning Najib on the 1MDB issue but both had pledged they were loyal to Najib’s leadership.
However, the scenario changes at today’s press conference when they seated beside Dr Mahathir opposing the use of Sosma and calling for Umno members to speak out against Najib at the party assembly scheduled for second week of December.
Umno leaders at grassroots level are sceptical of Dr Mahathir’s agenda given the chain effect it may have over Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) as a whole.
With changing political landscape and the rising racial politics being played by the DAP, couple with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) increasing influence among the young Malays, Umno members fear the attempt by Dr Mahathir and his team members may bring down Umno and BN as a whole in the next general election.
Putting aside 1MDB issue, at stake here is Malay political dominance as the Chinese have shown the community’s power to bring down the Malay political dominance in 2013 general election if not for the rural Malay support for Umno.
The 2013 general election is a lesson for Malays in that a divided community could mean the end of Malay political dominance in a democratic system and this is the glue that holds Umno members to stick to Najib in any circumstances.
Dr Mahathir’s attempt would have greater impact if it was mounted in the early years of Najib’s presidency but he miscalculated the timing, which in any war is crucial for victory.
Given the circumstances, Dr Mahathir needs more than the present team members to effectively see his objective successful.