A Tale of Three Leaders

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The upcoming 14th General Elections would invariably decide the destiny of Malaysia’s top 3 political juggernauts – Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak

Malaysia’s 6th prime minister is facing his toughest challenge throughout his political career. It is never a walk in the park when a disciple goes against his master.

Najib has pulled every trick from the bag to deflect challenges from his detractors. As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Over the past term, Najib has won the battle of by-elections, to the extent of snatching Teluk Intan away from DAP.

One has to admit that Najib has somewhat transformed his ways in the past 5 years. He has been paying a lot of attention to communities that were ignored by Mahathir, such as the people of Borneo, the B40 group, and the Indian community.

Winning the urban votes is an almost impossible task, hence, Najib’s fate largely depends on the non-urban population. Addressing economic difficulties is his greatest challenge. However, unlike Harapan’s election manifesto that glosses over past mistakes and has been internationally called unrealistic, Barisan Nasional’s manifesto that focuses on transformation is definitely one of the best BN manifestos till date.

Since the last general elections, allegations of his involvement with 1MDB still haunt him. If Umno loses in the elections, Najib could face horrid times. If they win with better majority than GE13, it would be over for the opposition.

If BN wins with a significantly slimmer majority, it would be interesting to see if Najib continues to lead the full length of next term.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

As much as Mahathir and his newfound loyalists are trying to make-believe that he is there to save the country, realists know that it is probably the last thing on his agenda.
Mahathir is definitely not there for himself considering his advancing age, but he is making a come back to save his children and legacy.

His constant U-turns and contradictory statements have made him a popular figure for memes. His latest outburst about the polling day being held on a weekday reinforces hypocrisy. Under his leadership, 3 GE’s were held on weekdays – 1982,1995, and 1999.

In fact in 1999, Mahathir only announced that the voting day would be declared a public holiday 6 days after the Election Commission revealed the poling date and 11 days before the elections, making it much more difficult for people to plan their travels to vote.

If Harapan loses in the 14th GE, Mahathir is as good as finished, unless he U-turns again and goes back to Umno.

Along with the tag of ‘Father of Modernisation’, his legacy would also include the birth of corruption, nepotism, racism, dictatorship, violator of human rights, and a master of deceit.

If Harapan wins and Pribumi representatives win most seats in the opposition coalition, then the Mahathir era gets a rebirth. He would call the shots in the opposition and would cunningly place his son in a position to take over from him.

If Harapan wins but Pribumi does not hold majority in the coalition, it would be interesting to see how Mahathir maneuvers his way to become prime minister again because the palace and the rulers will definitely be resistant. Besides, we could also see a split in Harapan because Mahathir will be impervious to Anwar if his son does not get a top position. He would probably insist on ruling for 2 years to have enough time to manipulate his way that would be favourable to him.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim

The upcoming elections couldn’t be more important for Anwar. Although Keadilan was formed to go against Mahathir’s atrocities, Mahathir is now the leader of the opposition that was once bent on removing him. The people who spat on him are now standing behind when Mahathir sits. Close allies of Anwar say that he is still wary about Mahathir.

The greatest challenge for Anwar would be if Harapan emerges victorious in the polls. Mahathir would proof that he is more influential because he did what Anwar was unable to do all these years.

Anwar very well knows how it is to be Mahathir’s number two. All Mahathir’s deputies were politically annihilated. Things may be a little simpler for Anwar if Pribumi members do not do well in the polls. If BN emerges victorious, Mahathir would be politically over, and Anwar would then lead the opposition again.

Upon Anwar’s release in a couple of months, if Mahathir still intends to call the shots his way, I wonder if Anwar would then be friendly towards Najib. With Mahathir joining Pakatan, anything is possible in Malaysian politics.

Najib, Zahid Hamidi, and Nazri Aziz’s constant visits to Anwar should not be taken lightly. Majority of people played down Najib’s visit to PAS president Hadi Awang in the hospital when it happened. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “In politics nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”