In January this year, after Anwar was acquitted by the High Court, many were of the opinion that the next GE would be held very shortly, probably in March.
I held a different opinion, and when asked by Singapore ST’s reporter for my opinion, this was my reply, and I quote from STimes (click here):
But Mr Najib has also gained a reputation as a cautious operator, under pressure to return a two-thirds parliamentary majority to the BN.
As such, there may still be surprises in the coming months which may affect the timing of the election, noted former Gerakan leader and political observer Hsu Dar Ren.
A controversy over the alleged misuse of public funds for a cattle project, for instance, flared two months ago, and continues to threaten the position of Umno’s women’s wing chief Shahrizat Jalil.
Datuk Seri Shahrizat’s husband heads the cattle project.
“Najib will have to settle outstanding issues like this before he calls for an election,” said Dr Hsu.
It is now certain that GE will not be called in March.
The prevailing perception is that PM is under pressure from various groups, most notably the OLD HORSE , who still has tremendous hold on The Big Brother. Not to mention the deputy who often says things that contradict the No.1 ‘s 1Malaysia concept.
But No. 1 is clearly trying to fight off the perception of a yes man that he was made up to be when he ascended to the No. 1 position in 2009.
The recent appointment of Pemuda Head as head of a government-linked body, and the news that his father-in-law the former PM is to be retained as candidate is a clear case that NO. 1 is now playing the same game of the OLD Horse using the same tactic that the Old Horse played on No .1 previously, Divide and Rule. He is letting Mr Old Horse taste something that the latter has been giving people to taste.
Previously, because of the pressure fromOLD Horse, the Pemuda Head has not been appointed to any government position, in a move by the Old Horse to weaken the young man’s power base to clear the way for his own your-know-who.
Now, this appointment of a government linked body is not as powerful as a position in the cabinet, but the very appointment itself is symbolic of the NO. 1 going his own way. It is like saying that: look, I can go my own way and make things difficult for you-know-who, if too much obstacles are put in my way.. It is a signal of fighting back, but whether this would be enough for No 1 to survive is anybody’s guess.
With the power struggle within the Big Brother, No. 1 has a clear choice: call an election in End-of-May-early-June period so that he can put his own team up to undercut the strength of his potential challengers. The only thing against this move is perhaps that there are so much of outstanding issues at the moment –the cowgate, the RareEarthGate, threat of another Bersih walk etc– if these are not resolved, No 1 is not sure of a convincing victory in the next GE. That means he would be going the way of the Sleepy-Headed, even if Big Brother wins a simple majority.
Is this the beginning of his fightback to push through some of the more moderate policies to win back some middle ground? It is of course anybody’s guess, and as a political observer, I can only say that I wish him best of luck.