Malaysians have just spent a weekend with heart in mouths thanks to a bunch of desperados who were not prepared to take no for an answer with the announcement on Friday by the ruling coalition that all parties were happy to accept Tun Mahathir as a leader till the end of the year and could leave at his choosing.
There were big smiles at the photo op confirming that designated successor Anwar Ibrahim was supporting his one time mentor to remain in the job. However, one personality had stormed out of the proceedings – his face missing from the line up.
It was Azmin Ali, a man who has never got over the fact that winning the election meant that his boss got let out of jail to take back the leadership he had effectively enjoyed as the powerful (access to money) Selangor Menteri Besar.
Azmin has been jockeying to usurp the position as next prime minister by hook or by crook since day one of this government and the policy of patience by his party leadership had so far enabled him to continue to convince some he could do it.
He had developed a network of powerful allies. Money men who feel threatened by the removal of key present contacts in the government, but more to the point those in the now opposition parties who are feeling the breath of the law down their collars. If some of the characters facing strings of charges for theft and abuse of power could cut a deal with Azmin, then jail could be avoided – good enough for them.
A key alliance was forged early on in June 2018 between himself and his relative by marriage, none other than Najib’s own cousin Hishammuddin. The two families holidayed expensively together in Morocco and their faction has quietly worked on upturning the election ever since. After all, family was heading to jail and it needed to be stopped – meanwhile Azmin was allowed to fantasise that the big boys of UMNO would allow him to be PM in return.
Azmin’s vital support came within UMNO therefore and its ally PAS. He just needed to bring his diminishing bunch of PKR groupies along too and set about rupturing the confidence of a coalition of parties prone to enormous suspicion of each other at the best of times.
Energetic at his side was the self-appointed ‘executioner of Anwar’, Khairuddin Hassan, a politician without a day job having failed to persuade the courts that his election loss was rigged. Khairuddin trades off his known ‘loyalty’ to Mahathir to convince listeners that all he says comes from the horse’s mouth.
Having sworn support for Anwar before the election Khairuddin flipped to become his would be political ‘axeman’ – over the scandal of the alleged Azmin sex video (or so he claimed to Sarawak Report) for which he chose to blame Anwar. Now his avowed mission is to ‘destroy Anwar’ he tells all who listen and he has been rarely from Azmin’s side in past weeks, giving an impression to some that he represents the true feelings of the prime minister himself.
All these factions never missed an opportunity to whisper into ears in the Mahathir camp that Anwar was plotting his own coup to race as soon as possible into office. They succeeded in creating considerable unease for a prime minister who heads a minority party in the coalition.
So, by Saturday the stage was set. Azmin could not allow peace to break out after his months of plotting as there was no place for him within that peace – his absence from the photo line up had been barely remarked that Friday evening but it said it all.
By Sunday the coup was underway – the tactic? To prize Dr Mahathir and his small Bersatu party away from the ruling coalition he had been elected by a majority to lead and into a new coalition comprising all the crooks and kleptocrats they had been elected to bring to justice. Talk of the new alignment had been cooked up one way or another for several weeks with statutory declarations lined up and all the rest, as exposed by Sarawak Report.
Now for action. A pre-planned meeting by Anwar with the Agong due this Monday afternoon was the tool used by Azmin to set up anger and concern in Bersatu. Their party meeting on Sunday morning was treated to the shocking information that Anwar was moving to mobilise his ‘numbers’ among MPs and would be telling the Agong Monday that their boss was toast.
Of course, many were willing to believe it. Mahathir sat silent, troubled. His son Mukhriz reportedly argued caution, but others were riled into fury at the ‘betrayal’. Meanwhile, Azmin had set up his own camp minutes away at the Sheraton Hotel (he managed to get some 7 PKR MPs to show up) and was busily briefing media behind doors that dual announcements were pending to herald a new coalition to take over the government.
This would be a coalition based on an honourable desire to shore up the prime minister and let him rule for as long as he desires, Azmin and his men assured. But it would exclude DAP and it would rule out Anwar succeeding as PM.
The innocence of the project was emphasised by a ‘Unity Dinner’ that had been meanwhile organised at the same hotel, ostensibly to allow MPs of all parties to demonstrate their loyalty to the prime minister – what harm in that, since only Friday the ruling coalition had done the same? Some 130 MPs turned up, including the whole of Sabah Warisan and Sarawak GPS flown in for the weekend show – some plot.
Meanwhile, Azmin was learning that progress was being made at the Bersatu meeting. An angry decision had been made to walk out of the coalition, but no announcement for now. The prime minister had sat silent and was not prepared to play ball with stage two of the plan which was to march to the palace with other party leaders and tell the Agong there would be a new alignment under Mahathir with the largest parties PKR and DAP booted out of the government along with Amanah.
So, no press conference at either meeting. The podiums set up for the purpose remained empty. However, Azmin was not prepared to accept the plan was falling flat. The press was briefed that Dr Mahathir was heading to the palace along with all the other leaders – that a shocking coup was effectively underway.
For the next hours Malaysians sat open mouthed on a tinder box wondering what next? Rumours flew. Wise heads continued to ask why on earth would Tun Mahathir embark on such a reckless plan to cheat his electorate and put in power the very crooks and shysters he had been elected to sort out and had been driving through the courts for weeks and months?
However, others thought the worst. The ‘leopard had shown his spots’ and treachery had prevailed. Hysteria started to well up in PKR and DAP as well. Fury and anger developed, not against Azmin and his plotters, but against the PM for supposedly joining them and leading the assault.
Now that was not bad going for the team set on destabilising a coalition that was short on trust. If they could just keep this fighting going then maybe they could get their way? However, the truth will out if calm and wise heads allow.
The first sign was a statement from the prime minister’s home. He had not gone to the palace and he would not be issuing any statements that night. Rumours of the death of Pakatan Harapan were premature to say the least. The party leaders were reported later as having taken their tea with the Agong and then left, empty handed.
An anxious PKR leadership were left to wonder what to make of what was going on, but did not disturb the PM amidst noise about the anger at the Bersatu event. Meanwhile, the grim show carried on as Azmin’s ‘Unity Dinner’ rolled into action. It too was a flop with no show from the leader in whose honour it was supposed to be held.
The MPs ate their free makan (who paid remains uncertain) then by 9.30 the older guests were showing they had had enough. Hadi Awang was filmed exiting first and heading into his flash new Merc bought with a fat loan from the federal government supposed to bail out staff and management costs in his bankrupt state.
The others followed, some UMNO characters announcing coyly to the media that in their view PH was dead. Who were they to say? Why did the media treat an opposition attack as if it was an inside announcement? There were no speeches or statements to assert the formation of the planned new government – the East Malaysians got ready to fly home.
However, after an hour of intense discussion Azmin and his remaining groupies emerged tired from the failed coup celebratory dinner to announce that matters were still in play. Many more nods and winks to an exhausted but insatiable media. The fight was still on.
Azmin was right to keep fighting as he was certainly doing damage (there was no going back anyway). By Sunday night the PKR leadership had become convinced that Anwar was indeed the victim of a terrible deception orchestrated by Mahathir. It was understood by Anwar’s people that the PM was just biding his time and would head to the Agong in the morning to announce the coup and his new ruling alignment with UMNO and PAS – GPS and Warisan thrown in.
The fact that none of this made sense had become irrelevant it seems. Suspicion, old memories took over amongst many in PKR around Anwar. Fears of Malay ‘intolerance’ began to loom large just as fears of a non-Malay plot had persuaded some in Bersatu that Anwar himself was primed to use his visit to the palace to execute his own coup against them.
Overnight, meetings were held. The conclusions of PKR, Amanah and DAP were gloomy. However, good counsel prevailed. Anwar must at least go to see Mahathir personally and find out what the truth was – the matter had to be explored before anyone went to the Agong on Monday.
First thing in the morning, Sarawak Report is told, Anwar made that personal call. Mahathir was driving to his office to hand in his resignation – exasperated at what he by then understood had been a vile deception by Anwar, pretending on Friday to support him whilst all along planning (Mahathir had been told) to see the Agong and seize power the coming Monday.
However, told that Anwar, Guan Eng, Wan Azizah and Mat Sabu were on their way to see him the prime minister detoured to his own house to entertain their visit. Sarawak Report understands that lengthy meeting was an emotional one as the two men in particular opened up their positions. Both had been led to feel betrayed, but neither had let down the other on their commitments. All sides reconciled.
Except…. Outside turmoil still swirled. Bersatu had not been involved in that morning meeting, confusion was rife and a statement had by now been issued by the party furious at the perceived ill-treatment of their leader. Mahathir had prepared a statement signalling his own resignation and that had been released. The press was plastered with confirmations that the coalition was formally dissolved.
Azmin himself, having been finally sacked by Anwar after this gross series of traitorous deceptions, announced his own new party, managing to take ten remaining gullible souls from PKR along with him.
Malaysians were led to understand that their Prime Minister was on his way to the Palace to issue his resignation and that the Deputy PM was now heading a fractured interim government of warring elements. The media were breathless in reporting the death of the coalition, chaos and collapse.
As a shocked nation spent Monday in horrified suspense, a group of charged political crooks were starting at last to entertain real hopes and expectations that they had finally manoeuvred themselves out of the danger of any punishment for their crimes.
As the day wore on however, voices of reason prevailed. DAP’s Guan Eng finally broke a judicious silence maintained over the weekend. Why would the prime minister who had spent the past five years and more seeking to repair the damage of the rampant kleptocracy around 1MDB suddenly decide to jack his allies, cosy up with his enemies and let them off the hook? More to the point why would he be so stupid as to put himself into their power by seeking to head up a new government where UMNO and PAS could sack him on day one?
It had never made sense and indeed when Mahathir did yesterday decide to act it had been to resign in the face of what he understood was treachery by his partners, not to head up an UMNO/PAS pact.
Amanah followed suit, agreeing with DAP that it continued to follow Mahathir come what may. Anwar himself clarified his exasperated statement of the night before against traitors who had undermined him to make clear that Mahathir himself had never been behind the plotted Azmin/UMNO coup.
Come afternoon Anwar made his long planned visit to the Agong. Sarawak Report strongly suspects that his advice to the King was to seek to persuade the prime minister to take back his request to resign from office (not formal until granted in an audience with the king). Stability must be paramount and Anwar had never intended to renege on his commitment.
Malaysia now awaits the final key developments of the day. Bersatu must reconsider its own position over the coalition it says it has left and in a short while Mahathir will himself see the Agong. Many fear it will be to hand in that threatened resignation, but more hope that once again an old leader will do a final service and allow himself to be persuaded to bring back stability after an attempted opposition coup and continue with PH’s planned transition process.
As Sarawak Report had predicted, once hard heads prevailed and the truth identified behind this plot a rapid end was put to matters Monday afternoon.
First Anwar saw the Agong and confirmed his support for the current prime minister, who had nonetheless by then resigned. Dr Mahathir then left for the palace amidst doomsaying that he would confirm that resignation despite a growing surge of support from PKR, DAP, Amanah – Azmin having marched off to start some other party.
Various Azmin plotters lurked at the door of Mahathir’s house to kiss his hand as he left for the Palace – too late. After an hour and a half of deliberations with the King Malaysia’s elderly prime minister has indeed emerged to say he will agree to do his country one more service.
He will stay on as prime minister for now to pull back the ruptured coalition into shape, but only with an interim status.
The agreed handover is on track and the position of the prime minister designate strengthened as it needs to be, but not at the expense of the current leader. The Azmin Ali political coup has failed as Sarawak Report has always said it would.