2020-02-21 14:11:00  2220977
Calm before the storm

By Tay Tian Yan, Sin Chew Daily

Anwar Ibrahim has finally made a decision. He is prepared to tell Mahathir in tonight's meeting that the PM has to set a handover date, not just "after APEC" but a more specific time.

Sure enough Anwar needs to be psychologically prepared that the Old Man is not going to give a date at all, as usual.

Then Anwar will forward the decision made at PKR's political bureau meeting: December 2020 the latest!

PKR's political bureau has also wanted Mahathir to put everything down in black and white. Anwar has been authorized to forward this decision to the prime minister.

It is not difficult for the political bureau to come out with such decision. Anwar has to make this very clear to Mahathir. And there's no turning back now.

What if the Old Man says "no"?

Neither the political bureau members nor Anwar himself have any idea!

Supposing Anwar takes out a pre-written handover promise letter and wants Mahathir to sign it...

Nothing will happen if Mahathir nonchalantly pushes it aside. But the thing is, the PKR president has to be prepared for the consequences of challenging his authority.

While on the one hand Mahathir says he will honor his promise of power transition after APEC, on the other hand he argues that a change of leadership or government will not guarantee continuation of policies.

Unless, Anwar manages to secure the support of at least 112 MPs (better if he has at hand a statutory declaration signed by them), there is hardly anything he can do to Mahathir.

Few believe Anwar can get past the 112-threshold. Conversely, many believe Mahathir already has that magic number.

Even if Anwar has the number, which is highly inconceivable, it is still far more difficult to take down Mahathir now than to put him in office two years ago.

All things about the establishment of a Pakatan Nasional, the SD in support of Mahathir's full-term in office, and PAS' intention of tabling a confidence vote, have forced Anwar to demand a specific date from Mahathir by way of the PH presidential council.

Having said that, any unusual pressure on Mahathir will most likely trigger even more powerful counter-action from the PM. Any such move, be it through the Parliament or civil forces, is set to bring down the PH coalition. Of course, Mahathir as PM has the power to dissolve the Parliament, but this is what PH is least willing to see and a challenge too large for the coalition to face.

Once Mahathir makes the move, things will easily go out of hand, and the PH administration bubble may burst in no time.

For sure Anwar and PH party leaders will try to give in for the sake of the big picture.

The thing is, PH's big picture and that of Mahathir are two very different things.

A source said PH leaders have arranged a "pre-meeting" among the top six leaders before tonight's presidential council meeting on the handover issue.

Such arrangement is made to avoid a clash in the actual council meeting.

These top six leaders -- Mahathir, Anwar, Muhyiddin, Wan Azizah, Lim Guan Eng and Mat Sabu -- will seek to find a consensus that will be brought to the presidential council meeting for endorsement.

This is the most critical moment for PH since its inception. But in the end, it is possible nothing will ever happen. Views can still be voiced out, but only one man gets to decide.

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