I’m sure you’ve read about Malaysia’s PM Mahathir’s resignation yesterday, and are confused over what’s happening.
Even if you’re familiar with the political scene here in Singapore, the politics up north is so complicated, it’s easier to understand the plot from House of Cards or Game of Thrones with one episode.
Why is Dr Mahathir quitting? What’s with the “government has fallen” thingy you’ve been reading online? Doesn’t PH stand for Public Holiday?
What’s this “backdoor” government that every news outlet is talking about?
Now, let Goody Feed summarise everything in a format that even a 5-year-old can understand.
Everything About Mahathir’s Resignation Explained So That a 5YO Can Understand
Before anything, you need to learn some boring history.
Unlike Singapore whereby we have individual political parties, with the ruling party PAP being the Government, it’s a tad different up north.
The party that wins the 2018 General Election with a majority to form a Government isn’t one individual party; it’s a group of parties known as the Pakatan Harapan. Within the group, it comprises four main parties: Democratic Action Party, People’s Justice Party, National Trust Party and Malaysian United Indigenous Party.
Mahathir was in the Malaysian United Indigenous Party, more commonly known as BERSATU, while Anwar, the popular politician who’s supposed to be the next PM after Mahathir steps down, is in People’s Justice Party, commonly known as the PKR.
Just like Singapore, the Prime Minister of a country isn’t chosen by the voters but by the political party.
So, in this case, the plan by Pakatan Harapan (agreed by all parties, of course) was to let Mahathir be the PM first, and the position to be given to Anwar after that.
It has been almost two years but Mahathir hasn’t stepped down to let Anwar take over. Doesn’t the resignation means Anwar is finally going to be the PM?
Well. Here’s when the drama started.
Reader Bao: You said 5-year-old can understand. I’m getting a little confused le
Relax; the introduction requires more in-depth information. But now, things will become easier.
Remember that the PM is not chosen by voters but by political parties?
Here’s when everything went south; there’s a crack in Pakatan Harapan.
Some leaders weren’t happy with how things are going, and there were a series of meetings between various party chiefs. Now, remember: these party chiefs are also elected officials who have power to form a Government.
It all started on 23 February 2020, when the meetings now involved even people from other parties outside of Pakatan Harapan. This includes UMNO, one of the parties that used to form the Government before 2018. According to The Star, 130 lawmakers, who can form a Government with this number, were in the meeting.
And it didn’t help that that all lawmakers in Mahathir’s party, BERSATU, dropped out of Pakatan Harapan and would be forming an independent block in parliament.
Remember: to be a Prime Minister, you need to be the leader of a ruling party.
There were then more speculations that the move was engineered by Mahathir; that he’s bringing his people over to create another bigger group of parties that includes the opposition parties, like UMNO, his ex-party that he defeated in the 2018 elections.
The reason for the move?
So that he won’t need to let Anwar be the next PM.
Reader Bao: So why does he have to quit?
Once again, there were speculations that his attempt to resign wasn’t really to resign, as chances are, the King would reject his resignation since it’d be clear that he still have the support of the majority in parliament: that is, the new government formed by a new group.
Reader Bao: Can you explain everything in even simpler term?
Still chim ah? Okay, so here goes: think of Mahathir as a shareholder in a company. There are many shareholders, and these shareholders would vote for a CEO.
These shareholders created their own groups, and usually, they vote for decisions as a group.
For example, a group voted that the price of their products should be lowered. With more than 51% vote, that price of the product will be lowered (though they usually don’t get involved in small things like this).
And the shareholders can also vote on who to be the CEO of the company.
So, Mahathir belongs to a group that votes for him to be the CEO, and that group has more than 51% voting rights. However, the promise is that he would step down soon to let Anwar be the CEO.
The initial speculation is that he had brought other shareholders to the other group that has 49% voting rights, and therefore increase the voting rights of the other group to more than 51%, which allows them to choose a CEO.
And the alleged reason?
He doesn’t want to give up his position to Anwar.
But alas; it turns out that this wasn’t the case.
Or so it seems.
Mahathir is the “Good Guy”
Using the same example, it turns out that he’s not the one who engineered the entire thing.
He wasn’t the one who led other “shareholders” to the other side; instead, it’s one (or some) of the shareholders.
It’s allegedly a person from PKR—the very same party that Anwar is in.
Azmin Ali is a member in PKR, and he, together with 10 members from the party, was responsible for engineering the whole incident.
His reason for doing that?
“We believe that forcing the prime minister to set a handover date is a malicious attempt to make the prime minister a ‘lame duck PM’”
Now, despite the threat of COVID-19 breaking the economy, the former Minister of Economic Affairs claims that he’s not a “traitor”.
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He added, “Those who sought to oust the prime minister mid-term are the real traitors because they prioritise power transition over the implementation of government policies which are aimed at restoring the economy and improving the people’s wellbeing.”
“Our efforts prove that the said group is aware of the mistake they have committed, hence their statements supporting YAB Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to continue his role as prime minister until end of his term.”
In other words, now you should know what’s going on: with enough numbers (e.g. “number of shares”), his new group can choose a Prime Minister.
The reason why it’s called a backdoor Government is that they’re not exactly voted in as the Government: remember, the people voted for Pakatan Harapan. His move to the other side would mean that a majority of the votes didn’t vote for the new “backdoor Government.”
King Accepts Mahathir’s Resignation; Cabinet Dissolved
The King has accepted Mahathir’s resignation, but made him a temporary PM.
However, the entire cabinet has been dissolved; which means there’s no official government governing the country now.
Right, just when the COVID-19 virus is floating around
Mahathir has wanted to resign as a PM because he doesn’t approve of the plan, and even tendered his resignation from his party though that’s being rejected.
He has been quiet since this saga started.
Anwar is vocal but he did not know what’s going to happen next.
Lim Guan Eng, who’s the leader of one of the parties in Pakatan Harapan, didn’t mince his words. He said, “All these manipulations, political chicanery, it’s like Game of Thrones. It’s unnecessary drama when we are facing such an economy amid Covid-19.”
So, what’s going to happen next?
No one knows, given that technically, Pakatan Harapan has lost its majority in Parliament, and therefore cannot form the Government (which explains why the Cabinet is dissolved).
But like what Mr Lim said, it’s indeed an unnecessary thing to do when the COVID-19 virus is lingering.
Or maybe, based on what we’ve seen on House of Cards and Game of Thrones, the timing is perfect?
This could be the next Chief of Staff.