Malaysian Politics Mob-Style

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By Mahathir Mohd Rais

Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi’s political journey is, in many ways, reminiscent of the tales spun in the darkened rooms of classic mobster movies.
These are settings where power, influence, and survival play out in a high-stakes game.
Zahid, with his 47 graft charges mysteriously dropped, embodies the protagonist who always finds a way to wriggle out, regardless of the weight of evidence or public sentiment against him.
The skill would make even Vito Corleone tip his hat in acknowledgment.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Take a step back, and it’s almost as if we’re watching a movie unfold.
We’re introduced to Zahid, the central character, who has managed to climb the political ladder amidst a storm of controversy.
Then there’s the dramatic climax: a slew of corruption charges threatening to topple him.
But, when it seems the curtains are drawing to a close on his career, there’s a twist.
The charges, so robustly proclaimed, vanish into thin air.

Malaysian prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (right) shakes hands with parliament members.

It’s almost cinematic in its incredibility.
The setting enhances this narrative.
The political corridors of the country have seen alliances forged and broken, loyalties tested, and power plays executed with surgical precision.
The merging of UMNO into the unity government after GE15 wasn’t just a minor plot point; it was a masterstroke, a strategic move on the chessboard of Malaysian politics.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (left), former Prime Minister Tan Seri Muhiyiddin Yassin (center) and Malaysian politician Datuk Seri Shafie Afdal (R) meet before press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

And within this sprawling epic, Zahid emerges as a master tactician, a political godfather.
His ability to navigate through treacherous waters, sidestep legal pitfalls, and maintain his position lends credence to the view of him as the embodiment of mob-style political maneuvering.
In any mob tale, there’s always the ensemble—a group of characters whose fates are inexplicably tied to the central figure.
Enter Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin, prominent figures of the Perikatan Nasional, each embroiled in their dark subplot.

An activist holds a cutout placard as protesters from civil society groups gather in front of Malaysian Parliament building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Unlike Zahid, they find themselves on the receiving end of the law’s stick: Hamzah with frozen assets and Muhyiddin facing what the public sees as politically motivated charges.
Their predicaments starkly contrast Zahid’s miraculous legal Houdini act, leaving us to wonder: Who’s pulling the strings?
It’s none other than Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and his role cannot be understated.
He is the puppet master pulling the strings, setting the stage for Zahid’s impressive, if controversial, ascent.
Is he empowering Zahid as a strategic move, turning a potential liability into an asset?
Or is he unwittingly setting himself up for a complex and potentially treacherous co-existence in governance?
In the grand tapestry of Malaysian politics, these figures, with their intertwined fates, represent the push and pull of a nation grappling with its democratic ideals.
The weaponization of legal frameworks, the alleged bending of justice, and the overarching theme of political survival over public accountability paint a fascinating and foreboding picture.
We should heed the lessons of countries where mob-style politics have led to democratic degradation. Zimbabwe and Venezuela are cautionary tales of what happens when the walls between justice and politics crumble.
The consequences extend beyond national borders, impacting international standing and inviting economic sanctions.
For us in Perikatan Nasional, this mob-style narrative serves as a red flag, a call to arms to disentangle justice from political convenience.
Zahid’s story isn’t just about one man; it’s an allegory of a system teetering on moral bankruptcy. In politics, as in mob movies, the good guys must rise, challenge the status quo, and ensure justice prevails over political maneuvering.

About the author: Mahathir Mohd Rais, Perikatan Nasional Federal Territories Information Chief. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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