Deputy Prime Minister and acting Umno No 2, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, is in a real bad mess.
Ever dependent on a reflex rather than an original thought, Zahid had taken on Bersatu chief Dr Mahathir Mohamad needlessly, and on a score that is considered lowdown: Zahid attacked Mahathir's ancestry.
What's more, it looks like the DPM has got himself badly bloodied in the process.
It was only as recently as May when Zahid declared his unwavering support for his boss, Umno president and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Now, after Zahid provoked the former PM by attacking his ancestry, Mahathir has responded by telling about a visit Zahid made to him, shortly after the present home minister was made acting Umno deputy president and deputy prime minister, following Muhyiddin Yassin's sacking in July 2015.
Mahathir said the purpose of Zahid's visit was to seek support for an attempt to replace Najib as PM.
Mahathir revealed he told Zahid he did not think Najib would resign, but if he did it would be Umno that would decide Najib's replacement.
Assuming that such a visit took place, and for the purpose that Mahathir disclosed yesterday, Zahid was egregious in choosing to provoke Mahathir: you do not bait someone to whom you have left a hostage to fortune.
Zahid's provocation, which elicited Mahathir's response, was even more ill-considered at a time when most view Najib's recent appointment of Hishamuddin Hussein as special functions minister as a cover for the PM in the event of a mutiny led by Zahid.
There are a few things I need to say before I come to a conclusion as to whether Mahathir has been truthful in his accusation of Ahmad Zahid covertly seeking support from him.
1) The first part of Mahathir's 'revelation' seems to have a likelihood of truth as Ahmad Zahid has been known to be a survivalist.
But was that purported covert visit by Zahid to Mahathir more about Zahid hedging his bets on the possibility of Mahathir successfully ousting Najib and coming back in triumph? Given Zahid's nature, I am inclined towards such a thought of him tambah his political 'insurance'.
2) But in real practical terms that didn't mean Zahid was deserting Najib for Mahathir, not so when Muhyiddin was just kicked out by Najib.
As I've just mentioned, Zahid might have been 'playing' both sides, perhaps more for Najib as he was the incumbent but with a side bet on Mahathir, because with Mahathir, you never know as he might have a few tricks up his sleeve, as Zahid had discovered in 1998, wakakaka.
3) But what has given me some doubts, indeed serious doubts, about Mahathir's truthfulness was him telling Zahid that even if Najib were to resign it would not be Mahathir who decide on Najib's replacement but rather Umno that would do that.
That was the biggest bullshit I've heard from a man who had preposterously claimed he had 'two successors' as PM and who wants the future PM to report to him for approval before any government major policy may be issued.
Mahathir is a big-headed man in the self-esteem and pompous department, and not a man to defer to UMNO as a party or to its supreme council to decide who will be the next PM (or the PM after Najib). He will have demanded that as his 'right'.
Thus my conclusion is that Mahathir has been char koay teow-ing against Ahmad Zahid in retaliation for Zahid's insult on his ethnic pedigree. Yes, there might have been a wee truth in Zahid hedging his bets every which way but I doubt to that extent as Mahathir wants us, especially Najib, to believe.
As I mentioned before, it's all fair in love and war.
I had also mentioned that Mahathir is extremely sensitive about his Indian blood, having once stated rather openly that he had "worked hard" to be a Malay, presumably from being part Malay to being full Malay.
To him now, Zahid is totally unforgivable for the latter's most hurtful insult, and nothing insults Mahathir more than any reference to his Kerala ancestry.
Mahathir has been that sensitive because whether Kerala blood really runs through his veins (or rather arteries) in 100% or 50% or 25% grade, that blood, his blood still has Indian (Kerala) blood, and which unfortunately still troubles him endlessly.
By the by, did kaytee tell you before he is 25% Thai, wakakaka, and thus 25% bumiputera (as Malaysian Thais are bumi), wakakaka again - oh, that lovely tom-yam flowing in my arteries, wakakaka.
Errr ... don't ask me about the other 75% because you may either be shocked or delighted, wakakaka.
Now, coming to Terence Netto's rather succinct use of the term 'Poison Chalice' which I have also used several times before in my postings, he might be right or wrong that the DPM position is a poison chalice. I'll come to that soon enough and we'll see whether Terence has been spot on or that could be another cause.
But first: Perhaps being "anointed" as the heir-apparent by Mahathir (rather than being the DPM) would be the poison chalice, wakakaka.
In more literal terms, in the olden days of China and Korea, once the Emperor (King) wanted a disliked royal or noble to "go", he'd be handed a cup of nice aromatic "flavoured" wine, with a royal 'yamseng, my Lord and goodbye'.
In more figurative terms, like what Terence has alluded to, once the Emperor (King) disliked a royal or noble to an extent he wanted the subject to "go", he'd be appointed, say, Commander of some frontier post which was waging ferocious war with formidable enemies. The consequences for the subject would be the same as being handed a cup of nice aromatic "flavoured" wine, with a royal 'yamseng, my Lord and goodbye'.
Switching landscape for a wee bit, I know the main reason (there were others) for his hatred of and enmity towards AAB.
As I had penned before, that after reading the late Rehman Rashid's last published book 'Peninsula', I learnt Mahathir selected AAB as his successor because he thought Pak lah would NOT release Anwar Ibrahim.
But when Pak Lah then did, that was, released Anwar, Mahathir was absolutely furious. That must have been the last straw for him to decide to oust AAB from the PM position. He used the crooked bridge and various other issues to wallop AAB because he couldn't well have said he wanted AAB to go because AAB released Anwar, wakakaka.
But we now know that Mahathir's real grievance against AAB was about freeing Anwar.
And AAB didn't help his relationship with Mahathir when he compensated those judges that Mahathir had ousted in 1988.
As for his animosity and hostility towards the current PM, namely Ah Jib Gor, we have to speculate on the following four possible causes:
1) Najib's lack of support for Mukhriz to get an UMNO party VP position, which has now made it difficult for the young laddie to climb to the very top of the UMNO leadership echelon and subsequently PM of Malaysia? Thus what's the point of father & son returning to UMNO when there's a party "traffic jam" at the top echelon?
2) Najib failing to report kuai kuai to Mahathir for 6 months which duration by then worried the Old Man that the younger punk might have a mind of his own and was likely to refuse following his dictates? That won't do as his imperial dictates still required time to implement.
where the hell were you for the last 6 months?
sorry tun, I was busy with my troublesome proton
3) Najib's refusal to play 'hardball' with Singapore, eg. in his refusal to carry on the crooked bridge project and in allowing Sing to develop the KTM land? Actually for the record, it was AAB who wisely abandoned the crooked project but Najib refused also to re-commence the expensive Mahathir-ego bruising construction.
One of Mahathir's mouthpieces revealed Dr M's 'chip on his shoulder' when criticising Ah Jib Gor for the abandonment of the bridge project. The 'mouthpiece' stated that the PM had surrendered national "dignity" to Sing, and Mahathir himself said "We should not kowtow to Singapore".
don't believe those Sing Bengs - my 'crooked' bridge has a simple design
its parabolic tension won't be a problem as the geostropic forces at the equator is virtually zero
Really, could Malaysians have afforded Mahathir's very expensive idea of asserting national "dignity" by shafting the crooked bridge down the Sing's behind?
4) Najib's friendliness towards the Chinese? The now-non-functioning TMI reported Mahathir blasting Ah Jib Gor as follows:
- that Najib’s "1Malaysia" slogan has been just a duplicate of the Chinese-dominated DAP's "Malaysian Malaysia" catchphrase.
- that Najib was emulating the opposition DAP in his attempts to woo the Chinese and Indians (during his first few years in office) by dialling back on pro-Bumiputera policies.
Mahathir posted in his blog saying, “He reduced places for Bumis in the government universities even though in the numerous private universities and twinned colleges, Bumis make up less than 10%.
Bumiputera contractors and small businesses no longer had government favour. Most had to stop their businesses."
“Without saying so in so many words, he had adopted the Malaysian Malaysia slogan of the opposition, only calling it One Malaysia instead.”
Well, remember that prior to May 13, Mahathir predicted the outbreak of racial hostility. He openly criticised the government, sending a letter to Tunku Abdul Rahman, criticising our 1st PM for failing to uphold Malay interests.
Mahathir showed that he did not and does not like Malay PMs who were or are too friendly to the Chinese Malaysians.
OK, now let us look at past DPMs to see how many succumbed to Terence Netto's fabled notorious poison chalice.
Tun Razak as DPM could be said to be the 1st exception to being politically poisoned by the fable as he did become PM (via a virtual coup d'etat).
Hussein Onn was the next successful DPM in ascending to the PM position.
hussein onn and tunku left umno in disgust because of mahathir
Mind, one could argue for the (Terence Netto's) case that both didn't last long in the PM position where Razak died of illness and Hussein resigned. But that both became PM would dilute Terence's theory lots.
Then we come to the others like: Musa Hitam, Gaffar Baba and the most famous of all, Anwar Ibrahim. yes, all fell, supporting Terence's theory.
But Pak Lah was OK though as for the cases of Razak and Hussein Onn we could again argue for the case that he didn't last too long as PM. But as PM he did ascend from his earlier DPM post.
Ah Jib Gor, Mahathir's current bete noire, also did not succumb to the DPM jinx, and became PM.
But what about Zahid, which has been the thrust of Netto's article?
I am afraid I have to disagree with Terence Netto that Zahid could be in trouble, the accusation by Mahathir and the competitive presence of Hishamuddin notwithstanding.
Zahid is very popular in UMNO, having the strongest grass root support among all UMNO senior leaders, even including (I suspect) Ah Jib Gor himself. When he was one of the 3 party VPs, he received the most number of votes.
(left ) - most votes - (right) - least votes
This bloke is a survivalist especially more so after surviving the near-death battering he received from Mahathir in 1998, wakakaka.
Even if it has been true that he covertly approached Mahathir as reported, I suspect it was Zahid's Machiavellian move to hedge his bets in UMNO. That's what a devious survivalist like Zahid is capable of doing, which is not to say he did it, wakakaka.
Zahid has always been a stalking horse, initially for Anwar in late 1990's and now for Najib. If you recall, recently Najib has been the one to start the reference to Mahathir's Indian ancestry; now he uses Zahid to escalate that reference by providing more titillating 'details', whether true or otherwise.
I suspect Najib did so because of Zahid's strong intra-party grass root support. Najib must have believed Zahid would do better than him at pointing out to party members that Mahathir is part Indian and not to be as trusted as Najib, a Malay.
And the nasty thing about "Malaysian ears" is that, once an insult or accusation or smear (even if untrue) has been hurled at a person, the more that person protests the more likely the audience (UMNO members) will believe the insult or accusation or smear is true. This is the nastiness of Malaysian characteristics.
I know Mahathir has been very hurt by the recent references to his Indian ancestry, so the best he could do would be to lash back at Ahmad Zahid.
In conclusion I dare say Terence Netto's poison chalice is not the DPM post but rather the appointment by Mahathir as his heir-apparent, wakakaka - just look at Musa Hitam, Gaffar Baba, Anwar Ibrahim and note that all three did not become PM.
As I mentioned before, Mahathir has The Minus Touch and not The Midas Touch, wakakaka. But either will kill his victim.