KUALA LUMPUR, May 29 — Has Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad checkmated himself in the country’s political game that has been focused on him since the 1980s?
Or does he have any other hidden cards that he can throw on the table or make one move that will change his position on the chessboard, that can bring him out of the turmoil?
Probably not, as he is now not a member of any party that can be his platform to get back at Muhyiddin unless Opposition parties PKR, DAP and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) get together and rope in several others from Sabah and Sarawak to win over a vote of no confidence in July’s parliament sitting.
His Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) had written a letter to him and four others, including his son Datuk Seri Mukhriz, stating they are out of the party over their act on May 18, where they sat with the Opposition despite them being members of the ruling party.
Now, the real battle in Bersatu begins, the party that is small but powerful enough to call the shots in the ruling alliance which is the battleground for Dr Mahathir, whose political shrewdness is known in the world.
The zen or grandmaster of Malaysia’s politics vis-à-vis Malay politics has found himself ‘checkmated’ by no one else but himself as he struggles to undo his own move to free himself from a fight that he chose to continue instead of throwing the blanket.
Refusing to play second fiddle in the party or refusing to allow party president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who is also the Prime Minister to dictate in the running of the party or refusing to acknowledge Muhyiddin fairs better than him or for any other reasons, Dr Mahathir had vowed not to allow Muhyiddin to have a smooth run.
Missing the opportunity to become prime minister, a post he held since May 2018, resigned on February 24, 2020, and after a brief moment about a week later, replaced by the party president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on May 1, Dr Mahathir had played his last card on May 18 together with his son Mukhriz and three others in the brief parliament sitting.
The act apparently did not go down well with the party leadership, the pro-tem supreme council members who took it upon themselves that the party chairman, whose position has yet to be ‘stamped’ because the party has yet to hold its annual general assembly (AGM) the first in that, had acted ultra-vires of the party constitution or at the least against the spirit of the party constitution.
Toe the line — whether one is against it or do not show solidarity and oneness of the party but Dr Mahathir and the four others had taken their own action to show their opposition against party president Muhyiddin.
Dr Mahathir overstepped or overlooked this small matter and he found himself ceased to be a member of the party he and Muhyiddin formed to bring down Barisan Nasional (BN) in 2018.
Now the war, which begun when Muhyiddin took over the Prime Minister post on May 2 escalates further but on the chessboard, Dr Mahathir has checkmated himself.
He cannot do anything now, as most laymen see it, because he is no longer a member of the party and to bring the matter to court will be useless as the party constitution already stated a member ceases his or her membership if he or she raises the party matters to court.
For Dr Mahathir, he is no longer a member despite the letter came from a pro-tem supreme council as caretaker of the party until an annual general meeting (AGM) is held to choose and endorse the leadership which will be acknowledges by the Registrar of Societies (RoS).
His situation is that he is not a member of any party and fighting the political war from without a platform is as good as an independent person shouting without being noticed.
However, there are still people out there waiting for Dr Mahathir’s last move — a move which they think can kill Muhyiddin’ political position in one stroke.