15 December 2016
The mother of all battles is shaping up in Malaysian politics as beleaguered Prime Minister Najib Razak pulled out all the stops to defend himself in the face of a reconfiguring opposition.
Putting his dominant party, Umno, on a war footing at its recently concluded annual general assembly, Datuk Seri Najib resorted to the Islamic doctrine of wala – or loyalty to the leader – as he manoeuvred to rally support and ready Umno for a general election.
The enabler was his No. 2, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who started the ball rolling by pledging his own loyalty to Mr Najib, who has been under siege since the outbreak of the scandal involving state development fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) last year.
Umno for the first time had to ward off an uprising against a sitting president led by a former prime minister and party president. In a single-minded drive to push Mr Najib out, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is leading a “people’s movement” to “Save Malaysia”. Having resigned from Umno in protest against Mr Najib, Dr Mahathir has joined the opposition, even reconciling with his former ally-turned-nemesis Anwar Ibrahim to revive their once powerful political partnership.
… Yang Razali Kassim is senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. This article first appeared in RSIS Commentary. SEA View is a weekly column on South-east Asian affairs.
RSIS / Online / Print
Last updated on 15/12/2016