COMMENTARY, June 2 — The scramble to become the prime minister has opened up an avenue for money politics to make a comeback as MPs weigh their options in a “free-for-all” political arena where party leaders appear to have lost control of their members.
While Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS are considered united and disciplined as their parties’ presidents have complete control of their MPs, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and PKR appear otherwise as their elected lawmakers pick and choose sides.
The current political climate gives more leeway for those scrambling to be the prime minister to put up their best fronts and promote their so-called struggles, wooing MPs of parties that are “lost in the water”.
Such parties include Bersatu where one leader is claiming to have more support than the incumbent, and PKR whose undecided MPs and assemblymen are targets.
And money politics seem to have made a comeback. Word — true or not is immaterial — is that the going rate is between RM5 million and RM50 million, depending on the constituency and how badly the individual is needed.
With Perikatan Nasional seen to have just a two- or three-seat majority in Parliament, it is tense heading towards the July 14 parliamentary meeting where there is a plan to table a motion of no-confidence.
For former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, getting back the position is like taking back the “captain of the ship”, which he described as going backwards rather than moving forward.
His opinion is not shared by many in Bersatu, a party where he is still fighting to remain as chairman, which is a post more powerful than the presidency currently held by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
This may be a long-drawn battle if Dr Mahathir brings the matter to court despite the party constitution stipulating clearly that the courts have no jurisdiction over any party matters.
At the same time, Dr Mahathir’s attempt to make a comeback as the PM does not seem to be shared by his former Pakatan Harapan partners, PKR, DAP and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah).
He now seems to be a maverick in his attempt, with few followers who have also lost their memberships and are now putting their political futures in Dr Mahathir’s hands.
Another candidate scrambling for the prime minister’s post is PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who was “played out” by Dr Mahathir at the eleventh hour, when the latter threw in the towel and brought down the PH government.
Anwar, who in February accepted his fate of losing the prime minister’s post, appeared to be making a strong comeback for the post, with his party and DAP seeming to be working together to achieve the objective.
For sitting PM Muhyiddin, many said he seems comfortable where he is now and did not seem to take seriously the many statements made by the Oppositions that he position was precarious.
For Muhyiddin, who is more focused on ending the Covid-19 pandemic and rebuilding the economy, he has his trusted men to take care of party matters. Observers see them as mostly comprising former Umno leaders who joined the party less than two years ago.
Muhyiddin seems to know that former Umno leaders are people who know the ground and how to strategise on his political position without making others angry.
The scenario will be like a yo-yo in terms of lawmaker numbers as money politics, if true, takes its role in determining the winner come July 14 as MPs stare at how valuable they are till Parliament sits.
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