12:20pm 17/08/2021
Witnessing Muhyiddin’s resignation up close

By Kuik Cheng Kang, Sin Chew Daily

I'm sure many of you have played the "Snakes and Ladders" game before. It has become a childhood memory for many.

The fun part of the game is that it is full of expectations and the unexpected setbacks that come out of the blue, falling off when victory is almost within reach with the opponent rejoicing at your shrieks of horror and agony.

In ancient India, it was said that snakes and ladders were representative of a person's fate, virtues and vices. Under the guidance of the dice (the hand that manipulates an individual's destiny), the game participant moves up the ladders (virtues) at different boxes along with the snakes (vices). His fate is literally tied to a piece of dice.

Indeed, while we have put in our effort, oftentimes the final outcome is beyond what we can control, not unlike a "Snakes and Ladders" game!

In essence, the "Snakes and Ladders" game has brought out the unfathomable karma belief in ancient India.

Since the global onset of the coronavirus pandemic in December 2019, nations across the world have been locked inside the "Snakes and Ladders" game. Many believe they have had the pandemic under control but all of a sudden the virus darts out like a bullet, sending the entire human race in jitters by its sheer unpredictability.

Governments find themselves becoming targets of public wrath, while the people are growingly restless having been confined to their homes for protracted periods of time, thus triggering powerful anti-institution butterfly (reflex) reactions. People are pushed to the brink of helplessness and the ensuing panic and indignation owing to hunger, and find an outlet for their convolution of emotions in the sitting governments.

Meanwhile, out of ignorance people in some countries take to the street to protest against their governments, wearing of masks and vaccination, in total disregard for their own safety by exposing themselves to the threats of the virus, thus hastening its spread in the community.

Here in Malaysia we are stuck in the quagmire of two major vices, the pandemic and power struggle. People helplessly stare at the pandemic fluctuating up the ladders and down the snakes on the board while unscrupulous politicians carry on with their power-grabbing routines.

Following the resignation of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his cabinet, if the leaders of various parties remain headstrong and unconceding, this country will be plunged into a state of anarchy for at least a week because His Majesty Yang di-Pertuan Agong may be forced to spend time seeing individual party leaders to ascertain which party or political camp commands the majority support before deciding on our next PM.

The phones have been ringing non-stop these past few days. Many were eager to find out whether Muhyiddin would eventually step down and who would most likely be our new PM.

Moreover, with so much of misinformation and rumors circulating around, I have to keep making phone verifications lest a fake piece of news gets published at the slightest oversight.

Editors-in-chief posing with outgoing prime minister Muhyiddin. Third from right is Sin Chew Daily Editor-in-Chief Kuik Cheng Kang.
Editors-in-chief posing with outgoing prime minister Muhyiddin. Third from right is Sin Chew Daily Editor-in-Chief Kuik Cheng Kang.

Early yesterday morning, I received an invitational short message for a joint interview with Muhyiddin at the PM's office. I knew very well that the PM had decided to call it quits having been stuck deep inside the "Snakes and Ladders" game.

I managed to catch a convoy of vehicles ferrying cabinet ministers out of the PM's office just as I was about to step into its compounds, signaling that it would take us a week or longer before this office would play host to the ninth prime minister of Malaysia.

Once again I became one of the witnesses of the country's history. I had been pursuing news developments since his appointment as the country's eighth prime minister last year, until yesterday when I had to wish him well after he was forced to make the decision to leave.

Muhyiddin has become the shortest-serving prime minister in the country's history, a cruel reality I believe he had not expected to have befallen him. That said, the darkest day in his political career could have been his sacking from the DPM post by then prime minister Najib Razak in 2015, not the current political storm.

During the past 534 days as PM, Muhyiddin has been leading the nation in the fight against the coronavirus which has ravaged much of the world, while confronting the insurmountable pressure from within and without his own administration. There's hardly a day he can have some real peace!

He was commissioned to lead a PN government hastily put up by a mixed bag of political opportunists at the fall of the previous PH administration. His government has remained extremely vulnerable ever since day one. All he could do was to reward his allies with handsome government posts and perks to sustain the life of what many call a "backdoor government".

Although Umno is back in power, the insatiable party would never settle for the position of second-in-command, and has been constantly conceiving plots to take down this administration so that it will reclaim total dominance.

To keep the PN government alive at the height of the pandemic, Muhyiddin has accepted DAP's reform proposals in exchange for the party's support. The seven-point cross-party framework for bipartisan cooperation has been an outcome of several rounds of secret talks between finance minister Tengku Zafrul and senior DAP leaders. Unfortunately, the proposal has been turned down last minute.

Because of this, the disappointed PM ceded his fighting spirit. And this, among other things, have prompted him to make the hard decision of quitting.

As for Tengku Zafrul with a banking background and having participated in at least six rounds of negotiations, nothing comes more important than a person's integrity. According to his close aide, the finance minister was utterly saddened and disappointed by the last-minute rejection of what had been agreed on at the negotiation table.

In order to dilute its strong Chineseness stereotype, DAP has been working very hard these past few years in an attempt to win the support of the Malays. Nevertheless, after this incident, it will be even harder for the party to secure the trust of the Malays from this moment on.

Someone close to Muhyiddin asked me, "Aren't these reforms what Chinese Malaysians have always wanted? Tan Sri has planned to schedule the next election in July 2022 because he wants to table the bills against party-hopping and limiting the PM's tenure to two terms during the parliamentary sittings this September and next March, before holding the general election.

"We have now missed this rare opportunity to push ahead the reforms. We will now see whether the next government will do this!"

Following Muhyiddin's resignation, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will have a big headache trying to find a new PM. As no party now claims majority support, it will take a huge miracle for His Majesty to appoint the country's ninth prime minister within the shortest time possible.

Many people are now asking, or rather speculating, who will get appointed as our next PM.

As I was writing this article, I received a notice that the King had summoned all party leaders to the Istana at 1.00p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

I believe a unity government could be one of the solutions in the King's consideration in a bid to resolve the current deadlock. To His Majesty, this country cannot go without a prime minister and a government for one day on the back of an extremely challenging COVID-19 pandemic.

It is actually very comical if in the end these politicians who have fought tooth and nail over the much coveted PM seat agree to the "unity government" proposal. The first to laugh out loud will be two-time prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir, for this is exactly what he has wanted.

As we are waiting for a new government to be installed, please spare some thoughts for the many peddlers, businesses and people in the street who are still starving and struggling to stay alive outside of the "Snakes and Ladders" board.

Stop your greed and dirty tricks right away, and take those who have voted for you in the last election out of this damned pandemic so that they too can stay alive!

You can always fix an election date later and fight to your heart's content. As for the helpless bunch of people down here, we have had enough of you guys, seriously!

Do believe there is something called karma in this world. All your virtues and vices will lie bare in the eyes of us voters!



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