The appointment of Hishammuddin is likened to a double-edged sword

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Oriental Daily

Oriental Daily

After the 1MDB exposé, Najib’s political career was in limbo and might be forced to step down due to pressure from both inside and outside the party.

Although the pressure was extremely strong, Najib managed to safeguard his political power steadfastly. The dissidents in the party whom he had changed or sacked helped him to consolidate his absolute power in the party. As for the external threat outside the party, he tried to woo PAS by promising some political favours. He allowed the President of PAS Hadi to table the RUU355 Act as a personal bill in the parliament. This move successfully destroyed the bonding of the members in the Opposition coalition.

The cooperation collapsed

At present the support for Opposition is divided because of the RUU355 amendment issue and the Pribumi Bersatu Party headed by Mahathir and Muhyiddin. Each party distrusted and criticized one another which made the voters felt that the Opposition has no chance to form the next government. Hence they will not return to their home town to vote and some people have started to urge voters to cast spoilt votes to punish some particular Opposition political parties.

Najib is maneuvering political strategies to create more issues to divert the attention of the 1MDB issue. Hadi’s private member bill amending the RUU355 was successfully tabled in the parliament without any debate or voting. In the next parliamentary session the private member bill will be returned to its initial stage. Nevertheless, the move had already destroyed the relationship between PAS and Pakatan Harapan which posed an advantage to Najib’s ruling party.

Another critical move by Najib is to appoint the present Minister of Defence Hishammuddin an additional portfolio as the minister with special functions in the prime minister department. The appointment created lots of speculations in both the ruling and Opposition camp.

Looking from UMNO perspective, this dangerous tactic by Najib helps to defuse the threat of forcing Najib to step down by the Deputy Prime Minister Zahid if any. In such situation, Najib will not hesitate to remove Zahid like removing Muhyiddin and install Hishammuddin as his deputy. With this strategy, Zahid will not dare to be too ambitious and therefore Najib’s position in the ruling party will be more secure and powerful. This is indeed a very good strategy.

To outsiders, it may be interpreted that as the 1MDB issue burdens Najib immensely and he may step down before the next general election. Consequently he has to protect his own interests and avoid any criminal entanglement; he must find someone whom he can trust to hand over the reins. Hishammuddin fulfills all the conditions as he is related to Najib as well as a close ally.

Najib appointing Hishammuddin as a Minister of special functions is a double-edged sword which can provide him with many advantages. This shows that Najib is a very strategized politician.

This double-edged sword strategy can both attack and retract easily. In the next general election, Najib has a choice to lead or to step down.

Rafizi of PKR tried to rekindle the 1MDB issue to the public again. Will this move be able to topple Najib? Let us continue to see what’s going to happen!