Tuesday, May 28, 2024

"Keluar Sekejap" to "Masuk Balik" or "Reformasi!"?

Joceline Tan's Saturday's column was mischevous. She gave a glowing picture of Dato Mohamed Hasan in the important support role he provided to Prime Minister Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Foreign Minister. 

Initially it was thought she was nudging Tok Mat to make his next political step. It took a different turn when she could not resist a peck at his supporting role as Deputy President to UMNO President Dato Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. 

In the same breath, she touched on Khairy Jamaluddin, Tok Mat's estranged former Deputy Division leader sacked by the party after the 15th General Election. 

Coincidentally, an UMNO Supreme Council member from Negeri Sembilan, Jalaluddin Alias reportedly mentioned those removed by the party will be considered a second chance to return to the party. 

Isham Jalil was too full himself to assume it was about him and was immediately brushed off by Dato Dr Puad Zarkashi. Recently he could not get an "audience" with Najib in his last appearance at Jalan Duta court. That is telling of his current political value. 

UMNO Secretary General Datok Dr Asyraf Wajidi downplayed Jalaluddin's remark as nothing abnormal, but a columnist in FMT seemed in sync with Joceline Tan's insinuation that Keluar Sekejap will be making a move to Masuk Balik.   

Joceline can be well ahead in anticipating a major political development. She was six month ahead to read into a DAP leadership challenge of Chow Koon Yeow in Penang. 

However, the talk of Khairy is hardly audible at the UMNO's World Trade Centre headquarter. He remain out of sight and out of mind to those operating in the corridor of power.  

To his benefit, Khairy received many offers and open invite from various political parties. He has accepted none thus strengthening the believe that it is temporary and will find his way back into UMNO. 

It is widely believed he and Shahril has firm offers from PKR. If the road home to UMNO is too overbearing to overcome, Khairy and Shahril could just be PKR candidate for next general election. 

Just say when. Only thing holding back Khairy is he will be in a more inferior position to Rafizi, whom he used to have a close relationship togather with Nurul Izzah. She have since part ways from any possible pact with Rafizi.

In addition, like UMNO, PKR grassroot are no more kind to those  from outside the party parachuted to the top. Khairy may choose to ignore.

By the process of elimination, Khairy's option is limited. He is unlikely to join DAP or PAS. Although he has a firm offer from PPBM, but odds is against them surviving till GE16. He and Shahril has repeatedly expressed frustration and criticised Perikatan Nasional's competency as opposition in Keluar Sekejap.

From the outside, things are not looking well in Perikatan Nasional. The work rate of their campaign at Kuala Kubu Baru fell short to be a serious threat and was not cohesive. 

From the recent statement of PAS Spiritual Leader, Dato Hashim Jasin and PPBM demand for Perlis MB post, relation between PPBM and PAS is not as fine as it used to. 

There is already talk of a major shuffle in PAS. One possible option that has been the talk for few months is PAS to join the Unity Government. It will see the exit of Hadi Awang and a new group to lead PAS. Is that the unstated reason PAS intend to run in the 6 seats the PPBM MPs supported PMX? 

Another option is to revive Muafakat Nasional with UMNO. Few leaders such as Tuan Ibrahim, Takiyuddin and Fadli Shaari mentioned in their speeches or press statement. Obviously it will not involve Zahid thus a no go. 

Coming back to Khairy, upon being removed from UMNO, he was invited by the Crown Prince of Johor and currently acting Sultan of Johor to be involved as Advisor in the state youth development. 

Will that be a trump card of Khairy to return back to mainstream politics and possibly UMNO? By the current camera snapshot, the dotted lines are not connected and even the shape of the adjoining line to connect the dots are unclear. 

However, the Keluar Sekejap interview with Anthony Loke and his remarks to explain his preference for DAP as his political platform over MCA could be a hint of a future possibility. 

There is no way MCA can remain in any form of coalition with DAP. Political pundits are predicting MCA to leave BN and join PN under the spirit of Bangsa Johor between the MCA President and PPBM President. 

It could be an event of significance to the nation's history. And it could spark into a series of political outcomes and open the political landscape up to a myriad of possibilities even involving UMNO. A heavy burden for MCA to carry.

If the highly tactical Zahid could be outwitted, the whole jigsaw puzzle will come together into a complete picture. The new political permutation could even maintain Anwar as PM but the condition is PKR have to leave DAP. That does not make it look possible. 

By Merdeka Day, there is speculation one can expect firework beyond the Independence Day firework. Whether it is political or social or economic in nature, something big is said to happen. 

By then, will the card Khairy finally reveal be that conjured up by a Badawi clan member in Johor?   

Joceline's Saturday analysis below:

Uncertainty for two Rembau politicians



Saturday, 25 May 2024

WHEN the Prime Minister flew off to Japan this week, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan was on board Perdana One with him.

It has been a hectic month for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim with the Japan trip coming just days after an official visit to Central Asia.

The foreign affairs portfolio, once regarded as some sort of cul-de-sac post among Umno politicians, has become a high-profile position because of the impact of global events and especially given the Prime Minister’s international image.

Moreover, few other Cabinet members have the kind of proximity that the Foreign Minister has with the top man.

“The Foreign Minister spends hours with the PM when overseas, from the time he wakes up until it’s time to sleep. Even when the PM makes a toilet stop, they wait outside,” said an aide to a former minister.

When Mohamad or Tok Mat, as he is known, was reshuffled from the defence to the foreign portfolio, the perception was he had been demoted. Those used to his straight-talking style could not see the Rembau MP adapting to the diplomacy required of the post.

Moreover, as the above aide noted, the former Negri Sembilan mentri besar had suddenly gone from running a small state to a national portfolio and onto the international stage. Or, as a detractor put it, “from kampung to the world”.

But he has pulled off quite a seamless transition, not spectacular but there were no stumbles either.

“He understands his role. He arrives earlier in the foreign country, meets with his counterpart, checks the arrangements and lies low till the PM arrives. He is there to greet the PM at the steps of Perdana One and doesn’t try to steal the limelight,” said the above aide.

Anwar is intent on making his mark on the global stage and Tok Mat is fortunate to be there to bathe in the residual spotlight.

The Prime Minister is not as familiar with Tok Mat as he is with some other Umno politicians but the trust and comfort level is growing.

For instance, when Anwar stepped out of his limousine in Qatar earlier this month, those present were surprised to see Tok Mat emerging from the other side of the car.

“There is still a lot of hesitancy on Tok Mat’s part. He is still feeling his way through the complex maze of foreign policy but the beauty of it is that he is there beside the PM. Prime time with the PM is gold,” said the above former ministerial aide.

On the other side of the spectrum is former Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin who has refused to go quietly into the night after his expulsion from Umno.

“His visibility is sky-high and his social media reach is impressive. It’s striking that he is now a full-fledged celebrity,” said a well-placed Umno insider.

The charismatic former minister is one of the most-watched politicians in the country.

He has built up an audience base through sheer force of his intellect and personality. He has also become a remarkable opinion-shaper alongside his buddy Shahril Sufian Hamdan in their Keluar Sekejap podcast.

He is unafraid to speak up on controversial issues and people are seeing a side of him that goes beyond his family connections and his time as an Umno leader.

During a broadcast conference in Munich, he was asked if he would like to be the leader of Malaysia someday and he said quite frankly: “Yes, I think so.”

The gossip in Bersatu is that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, when he learnt that Khairy had been edged out of Rembau, offered him a Selangor seat in the general election. The offer carried so much potential but Khairy was still an Umno man and chose to contest in Sungai Buloh.

There was another Bersatu attempt to get Khairy to contest in Negri Sembilan in the six-state elections. Had he not resisted, he might be the Mentri Besar by now or, at the very least, an assemblyman but that is now water under the bridge.

The ship, said the Umno insider, sailed without him and when Perikatan Nasional swept Selangor with 22 out of 56 seats last year, a new captain in the form of Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali had emerged in Selangor.

The interesting thing about the two Rembau men is that despite their achievements, their political future remains rather uncertain.

No one is able to say whether Tok Mat is assured of becoming the next president or if Khairy will one day be the leader of Malaysia.

Khairy does not have a political party to ride on. He cannot return to Umno for as long as Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is there. The Umno president is said to keep tabs on what is said about him and does not take insults or criticism lightly.

“Tok Mat is almost there. Umno’s history has not been kind to its deputy presidents, so it’s up to how he plays the game. Khairy has more hurdles to cross but doors in Umno are never permanently shut,” said lawyer and Umno politician Ainul Aizat Ahmad Ishak.

Tok Mat came in like a knight on a white horse when he won the deputy president post in 2018. He has been playing it safe, going along with what Ahmad Zahid wanted and it has affected his image.

“His appeal outside of Umno is there but he somehow does not complete the full picture of what we expect of a leader of the future. One man has the platform and position but is not shining as brightly as he should. The other man is shining like crazy but has no political party,” said the above Umno insider.

It is an open secret that Umno’s top two are not on the best of terms. Tok Mat is rarely seen with Ahmad Zahid who prefers to bring along secretary-general Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki wherever he goes.

“He can go anywhere as the No 2 of Umno but you don’t see him sorting out issues in Sabah Umno or making the rounds in Johor and Melaka where the state leaders are already planning ahead for their state elections,” the former ministerial aide.

Some in Umno say Tok Mat is not out to undermine his president and that he just has to be patient and wait for the durian to fall on his lap.

But who can predict when, how or where the durian will fall? Those familiar with Umno politics would be aware by now that vice-president Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani has emerged as another potential candidate for president.

There will be a run for the durian when it is ready to fall.

As Ainul Aizat captured it so well: “When nothing is certain, anything is possible.”

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