Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says that those who are plotting against his son are themselves going to be brought down in the next general election. Actually the issue is more than just that. This is not just about those who are allegedly plotting against Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir. It is about Mukhriz is the architect of his own demise.
What many do not really comprehend — and this is something they teach you in Political Philosophy class in Oxford — is that political position and political power are two different things and two separate entities.
Most assume that if you have one then you have the other and that both come as a package. That is not quite true. You might be given one but you must take the other.
There are cases where you have political position but you do not have political power. And there are cases where you have political power but you do not have political position. In fact, I personally know a couple of people who have political power without having any political position. And these people are more powerful than those with political position.
Mukhriz is one example of someone who has political position but does not have political power. But that did not matter before this because his father had loads of political power. So he could easily borrow some of his father’s political power with a lot more to spare.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak realised that Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was brought down because he had political position but did not have political power. Political power was in the hands of Dr Mahathir.
So, one year ago, when Dr Mahathir started attacking Najib, just like how he attacked Abdullah almost nine years before that in 2006, Najib consolidated his political power. What many did not see at that time was Najib was taking away Dr Mahathir’s political power brick by brick until the wall no longer exists.
Najib knew that Abdullah fell because the institutions of government were not behind him but were behind Dr Mahathir. And this is inevitable because Dr Mahathir was Prime Minister for 22 years — which is considered almost one generation — so over a generation one has plenty of time to consolidate that power and influence.
Abdullah, however, was Prime Minister for just under three years at that time and he never bothered to consolidate his power because he thought that since he already had political position that means he automatically has political power as well.
And that was Abdullah’s folly because in the end he had to fight not just Dr Mahathir but the entire government machinery which was still loyal to the old man and which was at his disposal.
For example, the MACC, the Police Force, the Special Branch, the AGs Chambers, etc., were subservient to Dr Mahathir and were the institutions that ‘advised’ Abdullah to resign before he is arrested and put in jail on various criminal charges.
When Abdullah realised that he was alone and was not just facing Dr Mahathir but all the government institutions that are loyal to the old man as well, he agreed to resign.
That was a classic example of political position minus political power. And that was also a classic example that having one does not mean you have both and that you must work to consolidate political power once you attain political position.
Mukhriz Mahathir was equally in Lalaland when he thought that since he had political position he need not worry about anything else as he always had his father’s political power which he could tompang or tenggek.
That may be true as long as your father still has political power. But what happens once or if he no longer has political power? Where is your political power going to be derived from if you do not have power of your own?
But Mukhriz was too busy doing other things to focus on that issue. In fact, it never even crossed his mind that he needs to worry about that. So he spent more time outside Kedah and became a part-time Menteri Besar and did not work at consolidating his political power. And when his father’s political power began to erode, so did his own.
Najib, however, did the opposite. While Mukhriz continued slumbering in Lalaland, Najib consolidated his political power. He made sure that he purged all those government institutions that were rat-infested, or infested with Dr Mahathir loyalists, and replaced them with his loyalists.
No doubt many are screaming about this person or that person being retired, removed, or replaced. But then that is how it is done. That is how you consolidate your power. And if Najib did not do that then I would say he is a fooking idiot who deserves to fall.
Power can be shared. Or power can be a zero-sum game. You can share power when both or all parties are equally strong (or equally weak as the case may be). But for absolute power it must be a zero-sum game because one man’s loss is another man’s gain. So, to have power, you need to take it. And you need to take it from the other person.
Is this illegal? Certainly not! Is it immoral? What does morality have to do with this whole thing? Politics is about power, not morals. And if you have not realised this by now then get out of politics and go become a priest or something like that.”