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Analysts suggest Opposition doesn’t have the numbers, ‘Dubai Move’ plot aimed to keep Perikatan supporters fired up

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 — Political analysts believe that the Opposition leaders will be using the “Dubai Move” to rile up its supporters even though they do not have the numbers to topple the government.

The “Dubai Move” was alleged to involve plans to identify and make offers to government MPs who might switch support to the Opposition to establish a new government.

Earlier this month, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor reportedly confirmed that the federal opposition is plotting to topple the current federal government, but said it should be called the “Chow Kit Move” instead of the “Dubai Move” as the move was discussed in the capital city of Malaysia.

The next day, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s Youth chief Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal reportedly downplayed remarks by Muhammad Sanusi over the alleged plot to topple the Anwar administration.

He claimed that Muhammad Sanusi’s remark should not be taken seriously as the latter “was just teasing” and “likes to use sharp sarcasm”.

Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research (NASR) senior fellow Azmi Hassan believed that Perikatan Nasional (PN) leaders were trying to show their supporters that they have the numbers.

“There is a belief that the plot was created by Umno MPs who are not aligned with the unity government or the party president. So, for Wan Ahmad Fayhsal, it is best for PN not to make this bigger.

“It will have a negative impact on the coalition. Because one, they don’t have the numbers. Two, it can imply that they have nothing to do but want to topple the government. That’s the impression Wan Ahmad Fayhsal wants to avoid. He wants to demonstrate that it is an Umno creation rather than theirs,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.

“On the other hand, Muhammad Sanusi being Muhammad Sanusi, the rhetoric that he is, trying to show that PN or PAS has the support and the numbers. Within PN, we know PAS is very strong, very influential, and has a strong grassroots.

“While Bersatu is on the other side, five of their MPs jumped ships. You can understand why there is a head-on clash on this, both have their agenda, Umno had jumped to this opportunity to create an impression that PN did get involved and that the party had nothing to do with the move,” he added.

Syaza Shukri, assistant professor of political science at International Islamic University Malaysia said PN leaders are trying to point back the fingers to the federal government, but PAS needs to fire up its supporters.

“The fact that the move didn’t occur is proof that there is no Dubai move. But it doesn’t mean there were no discussions at all. The number just wasn’t there.

“I do think Wan Ahmad Fayhsal and the PN as a whole are trying to do damage control and also trying to turn the table around to show that the government is paranoid.

“But Sanusi is a ‘fighter’ in PN in the sense that he needs to keep their supporters fired up,” she said.

Syaza added that PAS needs to keep their supporters believing they are on the right side but they’re being withheld by the “so-called evil government”.

Syaza expects that the whole “Dubai move” issue will end when the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, assumes the palace.

“But I have no doubt the opposition will continue using the narrative that they have the number. They will probably blame it on the system for not being able to form the government. But the reality is they don’t have the number,” she said.

The ouster plot against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was first disclosed by Community Communication Department (J-KOM) deputy director-general Datuk Ismail Yusop on December 30, and was confirmed by both Opposition and government figures last week.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had also said he had received intelligence reports authenticating the ouster plot.

Anwar has acknowledged the plot allegations but has played them down, saying he prefers to focus on his government work.

Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun said the alleged plot is likely to have been a more PAS-driven “move” and therefore Bersatu might have been more or less in the dark over it.

“It is curious how Zahid could confirm its non-existence given he is one of the targets of such an alleged move,” he said.

Oh suggested that such “moves” are likely to recur occasionally as long as the government of the day could stay alive only by holding a parliamentary majority.

“So in theory efforts could be made continuously in trying to deny the majority.

“This is especially so as the anti-hopping law discourages only changing party affiliation but not political allegiance, as evident in the recent Bersatu MPs declaring support for the government,” he said.

Five Bersatu MPs have openly declared their support for Anwar since October, citing the disbursement of federal funds — controlled by the government — for their constituents as the main reason.

They are: Bukit Gantang MP Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal, Jeli MP Zahari Kechik, Gua Musang MP Mohd Azizi Abu Naim, Kuala Kangsar MP Datuk Iskandar Dzulkarnain Abdul Khalid, and Labuan MP Datuk Suhaili Abdul Rahman.