Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Malaysia Drama

Thursday February 20th. 2020. Malaysia.

Key Players:

Mahathir Mohamad. Current Prime Minister. Member/Chairman of BERSATU, part of PH.

Anwar Ibrahim. Expected Successor. Member/Leader of PKR, part of PH.

Azmin Ali. Current Economic minister and Deputy leader of PKR, part of PH.

Muhyiddin Yassin. Current Minister of Home Affairs, and President of BERSATU.

The King AKA The Tang di-Pertuan Agong. Abdullah of Pahang. In office for 13 months.

Ismail Sabri Yaakob. Current leader of the opposition. Leader of UMNO, part of BN.

Key Parties:

BN Barisan National, "governing alliance" In government from 1955-2018

PH Pakatan Harapan, "opposition alliance" formed in opposition to BN, currently government (2018-2020) as of the 20th of February, 2020.

UMNO Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu (United Malays National Organization) - lead party of BN. Excepting the monarch, all key players were once members of this party.

BERSATU Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Malaysian United Indigenous Party) - prominent party in PH, party of Mahathir Mohamad and Muhyiddin Yassin.

PKR Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People's Justice Party) - Anwar Ibrahim's party.

GS Islamic party. formerly allies of PKR. Currently (as of Feb 20th 2020) a 3rd party, in neither the PH government or the BN opposition.

This day ends without incident.

To better understand what happened and how we need to go back in time, to...

Historical Events.

In 1955, UMNO, as part of the Alliance party, won the first elections in Malaysia, which had recently become an independent country; previously, it was a UK colony. The Alliance would win that election with near 82% of the vote. In the following election, and the one in 1964, the alliance would take over half the vote. In 1969, they'd retain a majority of seats, but be reduced to 48.4% of the vote. As such the Alliance would merge itself into BN, along with some opposition parties. BN would then win the next 8 elections in a row with over half of the vote, having a low of 53.4% in 1990. 

Mahathir Mohamad served as UMNO leader and Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003. From 1993 to 1998, Anwar Ibrahim served as his Deputy Prime Minister. Anwar and Mahathir ended up butting heads, and Anwar ended up being removed from office and charged with corruption and sodomy. It is widely considered, including by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, that this was a political set-up. 

Anwar's conviction would later be overturned by the courts in 2004, with his ban on running for office ending in 2008. Anwar thus planned to run in the 2008 elections, however, the date of the elections was moved up so that Anwar could not run. As a result, his wife lead PKR into the election. 

The results were the worst ever for BN. 51.4% of the vote, and slightly under 60% of the seats. Only the Alliance's election in 1969 was worse. When Anwar's ban on office ended, he entered Parliament in a by-election and became Leader of the Opposition.

This would lead to the Prime Minister resigning in April of 2009 and being replaced with Najib Razak. 

Sunday May 5th. 2013. Malaysia.

The election would see BN win a majority of seats, 133 in the 222 seat chamber. BN, however, would only take 47.4% of the popular vote, while PKR and its allied parties (PKR, DAP, GS) would take 50.9% of the vote. This would be followed by protests and accusations of gerrymandering. Najib would thus remain Prime Minister. His Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, would also remain in office. 

Najib would later become embroiled in the 1Malaysia scandal, and during the scandal, in 2015, Muhyiddin would criticize his response. Muhyiddin would be dropped from cabinet, and a year later, would be removed from the UMNO party. Mahathir, despite having been retired for over a decade, also strongly criticized Najib. Muhyiddin would then work with Mahathir to set up a new party, BERSATU. 

As a result, BERSATU joined with the PKR, along with the DAP (PKR's ally in the 2008 election) formed PH, a new opposition alliance.

Wednesday May 9th. 2018. Malaysia.

For the first time in its history as an Independent country, the UMNO and its alliance, BN, lost a general election. PH, with its many members parties, formed the new government. PH won 48.3% of the vote compares to 33.8% for BN. Mahathir Mohamad thus again became Prime Minister. Unlike in 2013, Anwar could not run as he had again been charged with sodomy. This was quickly pardoned when the new government took office and it was announced that after a year fears - widely expected to be 2 years - Mahathir would step down and let Anwar become Prime Minister. This brings us back to...

Friday February 21st. 2020. Malaysia.

Anwar and Mahathir meet along with other high-ranking members of PH to discuss the timeline of Mahathir's handing over of power to Anwar. The meeting got quite heated and it was agreed Mahathir would hand power over after the APEC 2020 meeting in Malaysia in November. Mahathir however, had other plans.

Sunday February 23rd. 2020. Malaysia.

As with any insider clash, there are factual disputes. What seems to be emerging is that Mahathir had planned, in November, to step down, but, then form a coalition with UMNO and remain in power. This would have bilked Anwar out of the Prime Ministership that he had been promised. It seems that given the current crisis, Mahathir decided to move the date up from November, to now.

On the morning of the 23rd, 3 important meetings were held. (Top members of) BERSATU met at their HQ. Part of (the top members of) UMNO and (top members, etc) of PAS in Pahang, while the UMNO's legal brass met Kuala Lumpur. PAS' MPs would later meet in the Parliament. Rumors started to spread that an alternative government was in the works. Anwar himself released a statement on facebook accusing the plotters of treachery. 

Monday February 24th. 2020. Malaysia.

Azmin was tossed from PKR. He has been important at one of the meetings, in particular noe with Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the UMNO leader. 9 other MPs joined Azmin who created a new political bloc in Parliament.

Mahathir, meanwhile, announced his resignation, and resigned from his position within the BERSATU party. The party itself, now under Muhyiddin, withdrew from PH. Mahathir was appointed Interim PM. The King then announced he would meet, individually, with every single MP in Parliament, to see who had support to be Prime Minister. This would take two full days, the 25th and 26th. 

Tuesday February 25th. 2020. Malaysia.

Following the first interviews, UMNO announced that it would see dissolution and a new election. Apparently, the party rejected the terms Mahathir offered. 

Wednesday February 26th. 2020. Malaysia.

Mahathir addressed the nation, and announced his refusal to work with UMNO. Meanwhile, PH announced they were nomination Anwar to be the new Prime Minister. 

Thursday February 27th. 2020. Malaysia.

The King announced, through the Prime Minister, that nobody had majority support, and thus, on March 2nd, Parliament would vote on the matter. 

Friday February 28th. 2020. Malaysia.

A meeting of Monarchs was held. Malaysia is a Federation, and each state (though not every state) has it's own King. One of them gets selected to serve for a few years as the Federal King. This meeting was joined by the Chief of Defence and the Chief of Police. 

Meanwhile, the Speaker of Parliament announced that the supposed March 2nd meeting was not going to take place, as it did not adhere to standing orders. This was followed by an announcement in the evening by the King that he would meet with the leaders of all the parties to discuss who has majority support.

BERSATU then announced that Muhyiddin Yassin has majority support. UMNO and other parties would come out in support for this as well. Azmin and his allies, too, backed this. 

Saturday February 29th. 2020. Malaysia.

Muhyiddin announces the formation of the new PN alliance (Perikatan Natsional). Members of that alliance are UMNO and other BN members, BERSATU, and PAS. This would make the move similar to what happened when The Alliance became BN, with BN now becoming PN.

That evening, the King announced he too felt Muhyiddin had majority support, or, at least, was most likely to command it. Mahathir then released a list of 115 MPs (A majority) who he claimed supported him. The King however announced that this list was effectively void, and that the only way to overturn the decision was a non-confidence vote in Parliament. 

Sunday March 1st. 2020. Malaysia.

Mahathir announced that the King refused him an audience, and that he felt betrayed at the moved of Muhyiddin. Muhyiddin was shortly after sworn in as the new Prime Minister. 

Monday March 2nd. 2020. Malaysia.

Addressing the nation, Prime Minister Muhyiddin announced he had not planned to become Prime Minister, and that he thanked Mahathir for his service. 

Wednesday March 4th. 2020. Malaysia.

The Speaker of Parliament announced that at the request of the Prime Minister, the Parliament will next meet on May 18th, instead of March 9th as previously planned.

Tuesday March 10th. 2020. Malaysia.

While writing this post, Muhyiddin announced his new cabinet. Najib has congratulated him on the new cabinet, and seems pleased with it. Azmin Ali is the new most senior minister, in a cabinet without any Deputy Prime Minister. There are four senior ministers in total, including Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

So. What is...

Teddy's Take.

I believe Muhyiddin when he says he didn't plan this. From what I can gather and read, it seems on the 20th of February, he had no plans to become Prime Minister before the end of the year.

Instead, if I am reading between the lines properly, it seems Azmin Ali was 'supposed' to be the one to do it.

That Mahathir, in November, would announce that he's forming a new government, a national unity government, without UMNO but with nearly every other party, and, that this new government would need a new leader, and that person would be Azmin Ali. 

Azmin, however, seems to have gone off script. I think he smelled blood and realized he could take it all if he acted now, and did so with the blessing of UMNO. Azmin, however, ended up outplayed by Muhyiddin.

It seems Mahathir and Anwar both played a blocking role for Azmin, thus allowing Muhyiddin to stroll on by un-noticed. He then got all the puzzle pieces in order to take the job for himself. 

I don't think Mahathir ever intended to allow Anwar to become Prime Minister. All throughout this government, I think Mahathir always planned to betray Anwar. Frankly, I felt that when I covered the 2018 election. 

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