No clear endgame for Pakatan power play: The Star columnist

In his commentary, the writer says that who will be Prime Minister might not be determined by the Pakatan Harapan power transition agreement, but by which MP has the most support of his or her peers.

In a photo taken on Nov 14, 2019, Pakatan Harapan supporters are seen at Kukup night market. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - What was the most significant 2019 political story in Malaysia?

a) The Prime Minister's transition of power? Or to be exact, the non-transition power play?

b) The Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Civil War (also known as the retak menunggu belah or a crack waiting to split saga)?

c) Sodomy 3.0 and the Sandakan gay sex video?

d) The (MPs) number games?

e) The Tanjung Piai by-election and other by-elections?

f) All of the above (as they're interlinked)?

The non-transition power play has dominated the news this year.

The Prime Minister and Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad keeps on changing the transition timetable.

From "one to two years" to "more than two years" to "not beyond three years" to "beyond 2020".

From "there was no actual date or time mentioned" to "I'll step down once the country is stable and on firmer ground" to "I made a promise to hand over and I will, accepting that I thought that a change before the Apec summit (Nov 2020) will be disruptive".

There are forces - like PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) - that want Dr Mahathir to continue as Prime Minister until the end of the term.

There are opposing forces - like Otai Reformasi (a veterans' group loyal to Anwar), a motley of vocal Democratic Action Party (DAP) leaders like Sungai Pelek assemblyman Ronnie Liu, and PKR leaders like Sungai Petani and Gurun assemblyman Datuk Johari Abdul - that want the Parti Pribumi Bersatu chairman to set a clear time frame to hand over the Prime Minister post to Anwar.

Several Pakatan sources have told me that the unwritten agreement between the four Pakatan parties was for Dr Mahathir to step down two years after becoming Prime Minister and hand it over to Anwar, the eighth Prime Minister-designate.

It is Team Anwar vs Team Azmin in the PKR Civil War.

Should the PKR president sack his disloyal deputy?

It is a "ditelan mati emak, diluah mati bapa" (the English equivalent of between the devil and the deep sea) dilemma for Anwar.

Both co-founding leaders of PKR have a long and bittersweet history, but the root of their conflict is their Prime Minister ambition.

Some conspiracy theorists believe that PKR's internal politics has descended to the bedroom.

The selfie of the year came from Four Points by Sheraton in Sandakan.

PKR youth leader Haziq Abdullah Abdul Aziz confessed that he was one of the two men in a sex video recorded during the Sandakan by-election.

Haziq fingered Azmin, who is also the Economic Affairs Minister, as the other man in the footage, though the police have yet to identify the suka sama suka (consensual sex) perpetrators until now.

Azmin denied the allegation, saying it was a nefarious plot to destroy his political career.

Then came the Sodomy 3.0 allegation.

Muhammed Yusoff Rawther, who is Anwar's former research assistant, claimed his boss sexually assaulted him in 2018.

Anwar has vehemently denied the allegations, saying that he was busy campaigning for the Port Dickson parliamentary by-election at the time of said allegation.

It is a tale of two sodomy cases. The perception is that the authorities are more interested in Muhammed Yusoff's allegation than Haziq's.

Unseen by the public, there are power-brokers rustling MPs to be on their side.

Who will be Prime Minister might not be determined by the Pakatan power transition agreement, but by which MP has the most support of his or her peers.

It looks like neither Team Mahathir nor Team Anwar has the numbers. The key to tipping the balance would be the MPs from the Borneo states.

In 2018, Pakatan retained all the four seats - the Sungai Kandis, Seri Setia and Balakong state constituencies in Selangor and the Port Dickson parliamentary constituency - which fell vacant.

The year started well for Barisan Nasional when it won back Cameron Highlands from DAP on Jan 26.

The score for this year is Pakatan: 1 (DAP retained Sandakan parliamentary seat) and Barisan Nasional: 4 (BN Independent got back Cameron Highlands, United Malays National Organisation (Umno) retook the Semenyih state seat and kept the Rantau state seat, and Malaysian Chinese Association's (MCA) recaptured Tanjung Piai).

The Tanjung Piai by-election result was a shocker. BN won by a massive majority of 15,086.

Some analysts contributed the ruling coalition defeat in the Tanjung Piai by-election to over-promising its manifesto and under-delivering.

The pro-Anwar-as-the-eighth-Prime-Minister forces said it was a clear signal by voters for Dr Mahathir to step down.

Interestingly, Dr Mahathir's Bersatu failed to retain Semenyih and Tanjung Piai, which it won in GE14.

What's the most significant political story of 2019? For me, it is the non-transition power play.

Most of the political games played in the country revolve around it. The PKR Civil War. Sodomy 3.0 and Sandakan gay video. The number games.

Our economy is tanking because some in power are more keen on who will be the next Prime Minister despite claiming that they're focusing on the economy.

Who will be Prime Minister will remain our country's most significant political story in 2020.

The writer is a columnist with the paper. The Star is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media entities.

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