I’m entirely unsure which sounds better, Selayang Move or Sungai Petani Move. Though the former offers an exaggerated imagery of hundreds of undocumented Myanmarese fleeing immigration just outside the city’s main wet market.
We are talking about the potential by-election to put Anwar Ibrahim in Parliament.
Where five PKR lawmakers have latched on to the idea, party before self, Anwar for prime minister no matter what.
They are willing to resign, so Anwar can contest.
This is not new.
Post-GE12 in expectation of government takeover on September 16, 2008, Anwar within weeks from the time Wan Azizah vacated the Permatang Pauh seat, won it and raced to Parliament to be sworn in as leader of the opposition. The dress rehearsal for the highest office, presumably, though the putsch fizzled out.
Anwar remained as leader of opposition, and the northern seat’s MP until he forfeited both in 2015 when his sodomy conviction release was reversed.
Today, a similar path is proposed. 2018 and 2008 appearing eerily the same.
Will it succeed?
Five willing one man’s ambition
While William Leong, Johari Abdul and rest are unrestrained in their love for Anwar, they have to consider the voters and the party divisions.
Selayang voted in Mr Leong three months ago, and may disapprove his exit. There of course the reverse view, the people of Selayang, in and out of the wet market, would be thrilled to have the next prime minister as their man.
Look at Kubang Pasu, Kepala Batas and Pekan to realise the bonus of having the sitting prime minister.
The move can also upset the party grassroots, those who run the division.
Both voters and local party members have vested interest and must have their views considered before their MP resigns. If not there is the risk of the intended replacement losing votes and lukewarm campaigning by the division.
But even if those are minor inconveniences and the cult of Anwar will prevail, there is the principle of representation which can’t be just undermined because these philosophies are in the way of power for the elite.
The Mahathir referendum
It’s impossible to disguise.
The by-election is not about the seat alone, it is about winning the country.
If it is Selayang, then winning the Selangor seat is Anwar’s second step after the party presidency to control of Parliament.
A vote for Anwar is a vote to shorten Mahathir Mohamad’s stay as prime minister, in direct terms.
The referendum to decide the longevity of the Mahathir administration, would force urban voters to hesitate.
Every vote inches Anwar to the top, and adds volatility to government.
Plus, most vitally, Team Mahathir has mounted an extensive charm offensive on the Malaysian people. Young voters can’t imagine the country’s favourite grandfather was pilloried for decades as destroyer of democracy.
Would the prefer Anwar over Mahathir in the immediate future?
Two captains in the Cabinet with a colourful past of jostling for power, is a spectre many Malaysians may not fancy.
A fear averted if Anwar does not win this by-election.
It is the “what is at stake” which would turn the by-election into a Anwar vs Mahathir, rather than the actually poor sod Barisan Nasional names as the sacrificial lamb.
Parti Ayah, ibu, anak
With confirmation Anwar neither Wan Azizah Wan Ismail nor Nurul Izzah will step down from their respective seats, there will be three MPs from one family, holding the highest offices.
Umno will go to town with this development.
They’d say, it is just about power inside one family. And the end goal of the party is to secure power for Anwar and his family.
Of course they are ad hominem attacks, but they will have some traction.
An Anwar victory is beyond question, but it is the manner of victory which will determine his viability to be prime minister.
A weak win would be a statement about his appeal compared to Mahathir, and the political lethargy his ambitions produce among the voters.
The strategists have to be careful with this fish, hold it too tight and it might just flop out of their hands and into the Putrajaya Lake.