Muhyiddin’s no-show says it all


WHAT would you do if you knew that you were about to be suspended or sacked from your job, with your career hanging in the balance?

If you’re Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, then you’d be overseas. Far away from the action, as your colleagues (some of them less experienced than you) decide to effectively end your career.

The Umno supreme council’s decision to suspend Muhyiddin as deputy president was not surprising, though his absence at that fateful meeting certainly was.

Basic rules of employment will tell you that the one time you should probably show up for “work” is when you’re on the verge of being fired, especially if you think you’ve done nothing wrong (except maybe annoy your boss).

For reasons yet unknown, Muhyiddin felt that this rule did not apply to his case. Perhaps his absence was intentional, and part of an elaborate game plan that is also yet to be known.

It has been widely speculated that Muhyiddin is conspiring with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his son, ex-Kedah mentri besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, to form some sort of resistance movement against the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

And while there may be a bigger picture to consider here somewhere, I would imagine that a direct confrontation with the supposed enemy would be inevitable at some point.

That point came and went last Friday. It appears that Muhyiddin missed an opportunity to leverage on his position in the supreme council (none of his other alleged co-conspirators are on the council) to mount an attack on enemy ground. How is that good strategy?

Here is someone who in July last year, following his sacking as deputy prime minister, had emerged as an unlikely hero in the “Save Malaysia” campaign, if I’m to use the term coined by DAP’s Lim Kit Siang.

But I suppose we can now forget about him defending all Malaysians, when he wasn’t even present to defend himself.

Of course, it would be naive to think that Muhyiddin’s presence at the meeting could have in any way altered the decision of the supreme council.

No, this was not about Muhyiddin saving his position in Umno. It was about making sure that he went out on his terms, with Mad Max-style guns blazing.

A senior colleague of mine put it aptly when she said that the supreme council meeting was Muhyiddin’s chance to fire his “last salvo” at the party’s leadership, most of them former friends who didn’t even stand up for him.

Instead, his absence confirmed what some have suspected all along: Muhyiddin is no fighter.

Despite some hopeful comparisons to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (who was sacked as Umno deputy president in 1998), we are unlikely to witness anything resembling a Reformasi movement from Muhyiddin.

The former Johor Mentri Besar does not have the numbers, but more crucially, he lacks the character or determination to amass a solid following in the long run.

His return home from the ill-timed overseas trip on Tuesday was also not quite the convincing affair some expected it to be.

Some 50 supporters gathered at the airport with banners showing solidarity with their embattled leader. I suppose that’s an impressive number if you’re gunning for prom king, but not if you’re hoping to become a national icon for change.

Muhyiddin may be able to ride on the storm being created by Dr Mahathir for awhile yet, but there is little indication that he can become the country’s saviour.

Apart from his constituents in Pagoh, and some random Umno branch leaders, no one else will miss him. And that is perhaps the saddest fact about the man who was prime minister in waiting not too long ago.

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Akil Yunus

Akil Yunus

Akil Yunus believes the world would be a better place without politics, but also a lot duller. He is a moderate at everything but eating, and feels people should make sense, not war.

   

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