A meeting was held at a bungalow by the Putrajaya lake, from where the prime minister’s official residence is in plain sight.
The “clandestine” meeting followed the protracted controversy over the country’s premiership and other events.
Among those present were PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and at least a dozen Barisan Nasional members of parliament.
In between sipping of tea and coffee, some of them embraced Azmin like a long-lost brother without even the slightest hint of animosity, as one source claimed. Handshakes were firm and smiles were reciprocated.
“The plan is simple, but detrimental to the rise of another political camp. It involves the preservation of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister,” the source said about the Monday night meeting.
Azmin is apparently “reaching out” for support or endorsement from across the political divide for Dr Mahathir to remain as prime minister. The request was met with “uneasy looks”, aimed at Azmin who “was dead serious”, said the source.
Some of the MPs were restless over the notion of aiding a political rival, especially one that had driven them out of the administration after 61 years.
It does not bode well for grassroots sentiments, which had time and again been taught to identify the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Despite being included in the list of MPs attending the meeting that went viral, Parit Sulong MP Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad and her Arau counterpart, Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim, were quick to deny their presence at the meeting.
Otherwise, they could have been viciously attacked by party colleagues.
For instance, Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam had issued a scathing statement against former party vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein for purportedly leading the MPs to the meeting.
Hishammuddin had denied Lokman’s claims, suggesting that he had nothing to hide about what had transpired.
It seems that the accusation against him, stemming from his letter on bipartisan unity, may linger for a while, although it had been categorically stated that it had nothing to do with the setting up of a new government.
Nevertheless, for Azmin, some support from the opposition will underscore the need to preserve the current leadership. To a certain extent, in politics, nothing is more exuberant and ideal than a bipartisan venture.
The nexus is supposed to take the form of a side pact, akin to the PKR-Pas alliance in Selangor after the disbanding of Pakatan Rakyat. Potentially, it also shows that Azmin may not be alone in this endeavour.
Of course, the meeting on Monday night was spurred by the frosty relationship between Azmin and his chief party rival, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. No one knows how it began or the actual prick that caused the flesh to bleed, but reconciliation is certainly off the table, for now.
It is almost certain, however, that the cold war between Azmin and Anwar is largely due to the succession issue.
Murmurs of discontent against talk of Azmin being reserved as the actual prime minister-in-waiting are a threat to Anwar’s grand plan to become prime minister.
Azmin has been absent from PKR meetings, presumably as a protest against his party’s leadership, which had branded him a political deviant for not toeing the general line of respecting Anwar’s plan.
It appears that the younger leader, who co-founded PKR, harbours a similar ambition too. Before the change of government, Azmin, as Selangor menteri besar, often engaged the then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in parliamentary verbal sparring; observers are saying that he had placed his political clout at the same level as the top executive.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was the sex video linked to Azmin. The outcome saw both camps throwing punches at each other, with a strong suggestion by the inspector-general of police that a “malicious pact” was behind the recording. Azmin and Anwar had a closed-door meeting on the matter, but one could only speculate what was discussed.
Last week, Azmin found himself treated as an outcast after the party decided to rescind a tradition in which he, as PKR’s No. 2, is usually tasked with opening the youth and women wings’ congress.
The honour was relegated to Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is PKR advisory council chairman.
A camp of supporters may not be sufficient for Azmin’s survival in PKR, politics and government. As of now, he is putting himself at the forefront to defend Dr Mahathir from internal attacks, with the latest coming after Pakatan Harapan’s crushing defeat in the Tanjung Piai by-election.
If all else fails, Azmin would likely break away from PKR, but it could happen only as a last resort, according to a source. Although Azmin had said he would remain loyal to PKR, anything is possible in politics.
Or better still, what if Azmin’s immediate comments on the meeting were true? It would only substantiate his party rivals’ sentiments against him and fan the flames of paranoia that had been gripping PKR for a very long time.
It is learnt that Azmin’s political secretary and PKR Youth deputy chief, Hilman Idham, will meet party Youth branch leaders in Shah Alam tonight over the latest political development. Expect the fireworks to continue.