So the man who established Umno Baru in 1988 quits the party he founded in a huff.
Now this comes just a few days after he and a string of his cronies were accused of involvement in the fixing of appointments of judges.
Over the last few months, Mahathir has watched from the sidelines as his house of cards, built over 22 years, came tumbling down. All that waste and corruption and cronyism and superficial nation building during his administration finally came home to roost. The last straw was probably the release of the findings of the royal commission report on the Lingam Tape.
When I sent the news to a friend that Mahathir was leaving Umno, I received the following message in response: “And form Umno Baru Baru?”
Another friend joked, in a text message: “He is joining PKR :-)”
Later he sent another message: “You know Umno is in trouble when the r__s start abandoning ship.”
The sandiwara continues – but I can only see Pakatan Rakyat growing stronger as Umno founders like the Titanic after hitting an iceberg, sinking inch by inch. The diehard band (on the Fourth Floor?) plays on but the passengers are scurrying helter skelter to abandon ship. But are there enough life-boats to go around?
Is this the beginning of the end for Umno? What will Mukhriz do now? Is Najib all alone now? Will Razaleigh make his move now? I can only imagine the factionalism deepening ahead of the party polls at the end of December.
But can we discount the Mahathir camp altogether? Surely he has a trick or two up his sleeve. Can we just expect him to remain a passive observer in the months leading to the Umno polls? His move could be aimed at heightening the sense of crisis within Umno, thereby making it easier for Abdullah Badawi’s rivals to launch a challenge for the top post. And if the rival aligned to Mahathir triumphs in the party election, would the Mahathir camp return to Umno as Mahathir himself has suggested they would once Abdullah is ousted?
It ain’t over till it’s over.
Meanwhile, what kind of impact will this have on the Sabah MPs who are already making their presence felt and making all kinds of veiled demands?