Persona Non Grata, Supremus

Pakatan Harapan Chairman Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad boldly sending the message of on top of being classified as a Persona Non Grata, he is proving to be a true friend of DAP highlighting his anti-establishment traits, which include the HRH Malay Rulers.

The Star GEIC Wong Chun Wai’s opinion on unravelling his anti-Malay Rulers traits:

The royalty and Dr Mahathir

THE Council of the Royal Court in Selangor is more than a feudalistic, ceremonial body. Headed by His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor, it is, in fact, a relevant and powerful panel which advises him on virtually all issues.

The role and function of the 19-member body is to aid and advise Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah in exercising his role. The panel comprises his son (Selangor Raja Muda Tengku Amir Shah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah), the royal members, the elders and the Mentri Besar.

One of its members is Jen Tan Sri Hashim Mohamed Ali – brother-in-law of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The decision of the former premier to return two awards conferred by the Sultan has put Hashim in an embarrassing spot. More humiliatingly, his sister, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, also handed her awards back.

The ceremony, ahead of Tuanku’s birthday, had just ended at 4pm when a representative showed up at the palace to return the awards on behalf of Dr Mahathir.

In the words of an eyewitness, it was “neatly packed” with an accompanying letter from a long-time private secretary who had served him since his days as Prime Minister.

The surprising spectacle, to put it bluntly, went down badly with most members of the Royal Court. Hashim, in the eyes of some members, though blameless, was still apologetic.

Dr Mahathir’s decision to return the awards came shortly after the Ruler publicly expressed his unhappiness with Dr Mahathir over the latter’s comments about the Bugis being “pirates”.

In an interview with The Star, the Sultan had also remarked that Dr Mahathir suffered from “inferiority complex” and that the former PM would only “burn down the whole country” with his deep hatred.

They were strong words indeed. However, Dr Mahathir was expected to merely accept the remarks and criticism in good faith as advice from a highly respected Ruler, and not end up sulking like he did.

The Sultan of Selangor is among the most senior Rulers and he was clearly expressing the sentiments of his fellow Sultans.

That itself is a vital point – that all nine Rulers shared a stand against Dr Mahathir’s actions and this wasn’t the sentiment of merely one.

“This is the concern of all Malay Rulers. The nine of us,” said the Sultan of Selangor, referencing the misuse of race and religion ahead of the general election.

Dr Mahathir is not the first person to return honours awarded by Selangor, as erroneously reported by certain factions of the media.

In 2011, former Selangor Mentri Besar, Dr Mohamed Khir Toyo, “temporarily” returned the state award, which carries the title “Datuk Seri”, following his corruption charge. And when he was convicted in 2015, the title was altogether withdrawn by the Sultan.

Dr Mahathir’s returning of the awards has won him the admiration of his supporters, including those who have backed him from day one, along with those who once detested him but now lauding his switch to the Opposition bandwagon.

Then, there are those who feel that Dr Mahathir has, once again, crossed the line. The first time was when he sat next to DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang to begin the Opposition pact.

To the Malay voters in the rural heartland, it is something they find difficult to comprehend, especially after he spent his entire political career labelling the DAP racists and extremists.

The coming general election will be a test to see how much the majority of Malay voters are prepared to accept these dramatic and radical changes in the Opposition’s bid to bring down the Najib administration.

But his fellow Opposition leaders are certainly unsure. Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who is now in DAP, sent out a tweet urging the Sultan “to be careful with his words. No one is immune when the country burns”.

Truth be told, it sounded like a warning to Tuanku. And certainly, to rebut a Sultan in such an uncouth manner is not ingrained in Malay values, culture or psyche.

Zaid found it surprising that no one, at least publicly, was ready to join or defend him, attested to by his tweet later that he felt alone in his crusade.

In fact, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali called for an explanation and demanded Zaid to take responsibility for his statement, while DAP’s top brass distanced themselves from his indiscretion.

No one being prepared to rebuke royalty speaks volumes of how sensitive it is perceived for a politician to take on or feud with them.

Dr Mahathir’s brashness is well-known, but the difference this time around is that he is no longer in Umno. He is now in the Opposition.

He needs all the support he can get, and antagonising the Rulers may not be the best way to help the Opposition’s cause. The Sultan of Johor has no love lost for Dr Mahathir, and His Majesty has openly made his stand known. Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar also said he was hurt by the remarks of Dr Mahathir on the Bugis community.

And don’t forget that His Majesty carries plenty of respect and influence in Johor, a state eyed by the Opposition, especially Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, of which Dr Mahathir is chairman.

But that’s not the end of his problems either. The 92-year-old politician has offered himself to be an “interim Prime Minister” but no one has responded because PKR, DAP and Amanah probably have Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in mind, should Pakatan Harapan win.

There is no doubt that Dr Mahathir’s name continues to resonate with many sections of the Malay community, especially among the older ones. After all, for the longest time, he was the only PM they knew, with him at the helm for 22 years.

No one can erase what he has done to build Malaysia into a modern nation. He made Malaysians proud. But at the same time, his iron-fisted and authoritative rule continues to leave an unpleasant taste, a legacy of his time in charge.

It is also a fact that Dr Mahathir left an indelible impression on Malaysia history, so much so foreigners are often heard uttering his name in awe when we say we are Malaysians. No one can dispute his great work.

But the challenge for him now, in his twilight years, is to see if Malaysians are prepared to let him lead the country again.

Even for those who would vote for the opposition, they find the thought illogical. Dr Mahathir’s problem has always been his inability to let go.

He wanted Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to implement things his way, and he expected the same of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Dr Mahathir has given the impression that only he has exacting standards, therefore, he has to be left to run the show, again.

None of his deputies when he was PM, like Tun Musa Hitam and Anwar, could work well with him.

Only the late Tun Ghafar Baba did but that’s probably because he did not see the mild-mannered Ghafar as a threat.

For practical reasons, the Opposition, which is unable to galvanise the battle in the absence of Anwar, see Dr Mahathir as a useful ally. But should Pakatan Harapan win, a fresh round of feuds will surely surface.

If there is an important lesson here for politicians, whether those in office, aspiring to be elected, or returning from retirement, it is this – leaders come and go, but Rulers remain. Dr Mahathir has learnt the consequence of putting them down previously.

The present Rulers were merely Raja Muda and Tengku Mahkota when Dr Mahathir, who was prime minister then, removed the legal immunity of the royalty in an amendment to the Federal Constitution in 1993. But now, they appear to be striking back.

Istana Bukit Kayangan, to where Dr Mahathir returned the medals, was once stripped of police sentries, guards and outriders, to humiliate Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah.

In a picture of failing fortunes with cut budgets, the roof of the palace, at one time, leaked, too, the carpet getting soiled in the process.

And like most things in life, things have come full circle, and in the past 20 years, the roles seem to have changed.



This subliminal message is meant for the Non Malays, especially the Chinese which gave DAP a thumping support in the last 2 GEs and the more liberal and urbanite Malays, who are in the probability of being swayed against the conservative values of what UMNO stood for.

At the 13GE in May 2013, DAP won in 38 Parliamentary constituencies. PKR won 30 seats. This is in comparison of UMNO’s 88 seats.

The ballot political battle  this round is very important because the racial lines have been drawn bolder and Dr. Mahathir, formed a party to challenge UMNO’s political supremacy especially in Malay heartlands.

Of course, Dr. Mahathir had not gone far with his dissent Malay centric party. It is unlikely, even teaming up with PKR (by taking over former Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s role) and the splinter of PAS, Parti Amanah Negara.

It is unlikely Dr. Mahathir as a Persona Non Grata, would go very far.

The Star political columnist Joceline Tan:

Fighting one too many fires


Firestorm: Dr Mahathir is not the sort to kowtow to anyone and his latest act of defiance saw Selangor Umno demonstrating in defence of the Sultan of Selangor.

Firestorm: Dr Mahathir is not the sort to kowtow to anyone and his latest act of defiance saw Selangor Umno demonstrating in defence of the Sultan of Selangor.

IT was quite an awkward moment when their paths crossed after Friday prayers at the Putrajaya mosque earlier this month.

But Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi made the first move towards the man whom he had called “Mahathir a/l Iskandar Kutty” and reached out to shake the elder man’s hand.

The Deputy Prime Minister is famous for his PR and he even wrapped an arm around Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s shoulder as though they were BFFs.

Both men knew that everyone was watching and recording the encounter on their mobile devices, otherwise the former premier would have been tempted to give Dr Ahmad Zahid the cold shoulder.

Dr Ahmad Zahid looked as though he was thrilled at the chance meeting but Dr Mahathir’s body language was something else. The elder man was smiling away but he avoided eye contact with his name-caller and he looked like he could not wait to escape.

In hindsight, that was the moment before the storm for Dr Mahathir. A few days later, a hot potato landed on the lap of the Pakatan Harapan chairman.

The Sultan of Selangor’s criticism of Dr Mahathir during an interview had drawn an injudicious reaction from lawyer and DAP politician Datuk Zaid Ibrahim and there was a chain political eruptions after that.

Threats have been levelled at Zaid, police reports have been lodged, there have been demonstrations in support of the Sultan and to cap it all, Dr Mahathir has returned the titles awarded to him by the Selangor palace.

The first title was conferred in 1978 when he was on the way up and the second, the highest award known as the Darjah Kerabat or DK, was in 2003 as he was about to ride into the sunset. The years in between were not the best of years between him and the Malay Rulers.

Actually, a number of royal houses also awarded him the DK for his services to the nation – even the Kelantan palace which had an acrimonious relationship with him.

The joke among the sophisticated cafe society was that the royals were relieved to see the man who had clipped their wings ride off into the sunset and they wanted to give him a good send-off. Like the rest of us, the royals did not imagine that Dr Mahathir, 92, would turn his horse around and make a spectacular return to mainstream politics.

Returning the Selangor royal awards has been condemned by the pro-royalists as derhaka or treachery.

Once upon a time, such an act would have spelt the death knell for a Malay politician but times have changed and the opinion out there has been quite mixed. In fact, Malays seem more worked up about President Donald Trump declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Dr Mahathir is still adapting to life in the Opposition but the Selangor issue has shown that nothing beats experience when it comes to sensitive issues. He slipped up with his “Bugis pirate” speech, he did not expect it to hit the royal nerves in Selangor and Johor.

But, in what was seen as a shrewd move, he quietly returned the medals and only responded when the media got wind of it. Even then, he played it coy, falling back on satire and irony to make his point.

Then he and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali went off on a date night to watch the latest Star Wars movie. He was telling everyone: No problem, I’m cool about it.

“Tuanku’s rebuke was not surprising given the increased frequency and intensity of royal households conveying their views directly to the press. But returning the awards and stressing he is undeserving of them was political theatrics. He could have just apologised but he wanted to make a point by reacting in gesture rather than engage in a war of words,” said political risk analyst Amir Fareed Rahim.

The Opposition crowd liked the bravado and a DAP politician from Sarawak posted on Facebook: “My gosh, I love his level of sarcasm. Seriously, he is a maverick politician and I like it! Don’t play-play with this smart old man.”

The subtext to it is that they approved of the way he is taking on the royals.

Dr Mahathir has always come across as this larger than life kind personality who thrives on chaos and is always picking fights, be it with countries like America and Singapore or, closer to home, with his deputies and successors.

Yet, in person, he is soft-spoken, gentlemanly and talks sense unlike when he is on the ceramah stage making outlandish claims about his adversaries.

Politicians talk a lot of rubbish on the ceramah stage and get away with it. But when it comes to Dr Mahathir, everything he says is taken in a different context and that can become problematic.

But make no mistake, beneath that charismatic smile and sharp wit is a steel-willed man, for whom it has always been my way or the highway. He is determined not to kowtow to the palace.

Umno has capitalised on the issue. Selangor Umno held a big demonstration to defend Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah and to oppose Zaid. Two days later, an Umno delegation handed over a declaration of support for the Sultan at the palace gates.

“Mahathir is used to winning, right from the time when he was small fry fighting Tunku Abdul Rahman. But God is testing him in his old age,” said Kapar Umno division chief Datuk Faizal Abdullah who took part in the protest.

Dr Mahathir’s partners in DAP have been watching the whole saga with some unease. DAP is still struggling to shake off the perception that it is anti-Malay and anti-Islam. It is a case of damned if they speak and damned if they don’t.

“We have to handle it delicately. Mahathir is on the wane, the palace is on the rise,” said a Pakatan politician.

DAP leaders are unable to openly empathise with Zaid, let alone defend him. However, Lim Kit Siang and two other party leaders dropped by at Zaid’s Tropicana Golf & Country Resort home after he lamented that he was not getting support from his friends.

Zaid is not in a good place at the moment, his political career is in question. The Sultan asked him to return to Kelantan and the Selangor Umno protesters asked him to “berambus” (get lost) and portrayed him as a “kuda tunggangan DAP” or DAP operative.

“I doubt if he can stand on a DAP ticket, the party will be seen as having an ulterior motive,” said the above Pakatan politician.

The powers of Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy is not always as clear-cut as it should be and many politicians have problems negotiating their steps.

Pakatan leaders see Dr Mahathir as their passport to the Malay heartland votes. They cannot afford for him to be at loggerheads with the Malay Rulers and challenging a pillar of Malay cultural identity.

Dr Mahathir’s palace problems are a hangover from his tough love approach towards the Sultans during his days at the top. He has not been completely forgiven for amending the Constitution to, first, strip them of their legal immunity in 1991, and then taking away their veto power on legislation in 1993.

He is persona non grata with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V. He was not on the guest list when Sultan Muhammad was sworn in as the new King last year nor was he invited for the grand installation ceremony.

The Sultan of Johor’s feelings about Dr Mahathir is public knowledge by now. Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar made a strong speech in conjunction with his 59th birthday that was widely seen to be targeted at Dr Mahathir.

A month ago, the Johor Sultan gave his blessing to the design of the Rapid Transit System track that will link Johor and Singapore. It will be a straight bridge rather than the original curved design which the Sultan said would affect the Johor skyline.

No one wanted to say it out loud but the original design had hints of the crooked bridge that was said to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for Dr Mahathir.

Are the Malays bothered about all this?

“What matters is bread and butter issues although there is still a high degree of deference towards the royals among Malays. That’s why Mahathir is treading carefully and choosing his words after the Bugis fiasco. He can’t risk upsetting the royals too much.

“The royal households are important stakeholders in a government, Mahathir knows their importance in high-level politics especially when forming governments at state level and choosing the Mentri Besar. The blessing and confidence of the monarch is crucial in closely-contested elections and in the event of hung assemblies,” said Amir.

According to political commentator Dr Azmi Omar, Dr Mahathir’s strained ties with the Sultans will not cost him many votes among the Malays.

“But it is not going to win him more Malay votes either and that could be a problem for his coalition,” said Dr Azmi.



Majority of the Malays, still uphold the defining values of the Malays. They adhere strongly to the teachings of Islam and tradition and heritage of Malay-Muslim, which is respecting the feudalism of the Malay Rulers regardless how they disagree with it.

Recently, at the UMNO AGM Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak strongly pronounce that the nationalist party, stooped deep in Malay-Muslim traditions and values have never had an iota of anti-Chinese sentiments.

UMNO itself survived the crisis which Dr. Mahathir engineered almost three years ago with the objective of removing Prime Minister Najib as President, actually came out stronger and now fortified.

Within that time, the provocation of Dr. Mahathir and his Opposition cohorts even brought a few of HRH Rulers to sound out against the 92 year old machiavellian politician and all the anti-Malay and anti-Islam innuendoes.

The subliminal messages of HRH Rulers are for keeping the harmony and inter-racial understanding, respect and co-operationg in tact.

This is very much inline with Barisan Nasional’s consistencies. Under Prime Minister Najib, BN led Government is even working harder to narrow the gap and foster the principles upheld by the founding fathers.

This is not withstanding UMNO’s policy and struggle of developing the Malays, for the betterment f the whole nation.

Published in: on December 18, 2017 at 23:00  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] In his obsession and personal vendetta to topple Prime Minister Najib, Pakatan Harapan and PPBM Chairman Dr. Mahathir Mohamad crossed the line and even HRH Rulers uttered ‘Titah Murka’ and spoke sternly against him. […]

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