The impending Parliament meeting has become the arena for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to unleash his psywar on his nemesis Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
TAN Sri Muhyiddin Yassin must have felt like he was backstabbed again when he learnt that his one-time ally, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, had requested a motion in Parliament that would undermine his position as the Prime Minister.
The first stab-in-the-back was in February when the charismatic Warisan president stunned Muhyiddin by aligning with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Muhyiddin had told his close circle then: “Now I know who my friends are.”
Shafie’s request for the motion has since been rejected by Parliament.
But the second stab must have been just as hurtful because Shafie’s attempted motion was aimed at driving home the point that Dr Mahathir deserves to be the prime minister.
The politics between the Mahathir faction and the Muhyiddin camp
in Bersatu is on fire and the surprising thing is how Warisan has allowed itself to be dragged into the fray.
Dr Mahathir seems set on bringing down yet another prime minister, something he has quite a bit of experience in doing.
It has since transpired that Dr Mahathir had, on his part, also requested to move a motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin.
It was a direct strike against his own party president.
“This is an all-out war. Tun Mahathir made it clear from the start that he did not want anything to do with kleptocrats.
“He will take it all the way because he is not a man who does things by halves, ” said Bersatu supreme council member Akhramsyah Sanusi.
Dr Mahathir is attacking Muhyiddin on all fronts.
At one level, he is casting aspersions on Muhyiddin’s legitimacy as the Prime Minister.
At another level, the party’s Armada chief, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, has declared that the youth wing has broken away from Muhyiddin and wants the party to rejoin Pakatan Harapan.
But Syed Saddiq immediately came under fire from other Armada leaders who insisted that two-thirds of the youth wing’s divisional leaders are still with Muhyiddin.
The open warfare resulted in Bersatu information chief Radzi Jidin warning party members who aligned themselves with the Opposition that they would be sacked.
All this has been very embarrassing for Muhyiddin.
It is also dangerous because the enemy within is often more lethal than the one outside, what more if the enemy is Dr Mahathir who had earned the nickname “Terminator” (the title of the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie) when he went for Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
A senior journalist who has spent much of his career watching Dr Mahathir suggested that the elder man is waging a psywar on Muhyiddin.
“It is a test to push Muhyiddin, to see how far he can be pushed, ” said the journalist.
The former premier knew that his motion as well as that by Shafie would not go through because a notice issued by the Parliament secretariat last month had specified that no motions would be entertained.
“The thing is that this government is ruling with the thinnest majority in history and Dr Mahathir’s game is to cast doubt in the minds of people about whether the government can survive.
“Who knows? He may be able to attract a few more MPs to jump, ” said the journalist.
Dr Mahathir’s mind games will put the ruling coalition on edge.
Political parties that have split down the middle are not new
but this will be the first time in Parliament where the chairman of a party is seated across the floor from the president of the same party.
“This is really not the time to play politics, this is not what the people are concerned about, ” said Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu.
Ahmad Faizal, who is also Tambun MP and the party’s Perak chief, said people are losing their jobs, and factories and businesses are closing down.
“People are worried about how to put food on the table, not about who should be the prime minister.
“The general election is only a few more years away, let the people decide then, ” he added.
Dr Mahathir’s friends in Pakatan are watching quietly from the sidelines.
Although Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has adopted an open door for Dr Mahathir and his people, there is still a great deal of suspicion and distrust between them.
When Anwar learnt that the motions from Shafie and Dr Mahathir were about endorsing the leadership of the elder man, the PKR president moved quickly to claim his place as the Opposition leader.
The Pakatan secretariat informed Parliament yesterday that Anwar would be the Opposition leader.
It was a signal to Dr Mahathir that he was welcomed in Pakatan but not as its leader.
The rivalry between him and Anwar is still not over even though Dr Mahathir is now going for the scalp of a third sitting prime minister.
The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.