Dubai Move: Political intrigue or deja vu?

05 Jan 2024 03:30pm
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX

RUMOURS reached a crescendo in December, culminating in the dawn of 2024, as the media unveiled the latest attempt to destabilise the Madani government: the Dubai Move.

Stemming from the seizure of Menara Ilham by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Dec 18, the public was urged to revisit the longest-running political feud ever recorded in the country – between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The speculations gained authenticity when Community Communication Department (J-Kom) deputy director Datuk Ismail Yusop, confirmed them. If true, the people will judge.

If not, the deputy director should be reminded of the lesson in an English literary folklore: A boy who cried wolf.

The history of overthrowing the central government did not begin with the Sheraton Move, the London Move or the current hot topic, the Dubai Move.

The generation that votes based on TikTok trends needed to learn that the efforts to bring down the government began in September 2008.

Anwar, then the opposition leader, confidently addressed the media and a gathering of 20,000 people in Kelana Jaya: "We are ready to form the government. We have the numbers."

This statement followed Anwar's belief that he had successfully garnered the support of 30 Barisan Nasional MPs to accommodate 82 seats in the Dewan Rakyat in an attempt to form the government.

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Shortly after, the British news portal The Guardian reported that Anwar gave two to three weeks for Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to accept defeat and hand over the administration. What happened next?

Abdullah remained Prime Minister before relinquishing the reins to Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2009.

This, too, was a tale reminiscent of a boy Who cried wolf.

So, both sides were currently engaged in the political arena, so do not panic and do not call the kettle black.

'Buying' MPs to topple the government was merely, in the words of an English proverb, taking a leaf from Anwar's book.

Both respected Tuns also needed to accept the fact that time was not always on their side, and it was also not aimless.

As the tide rises, so does the people's vote.

What was more crucial, legal actions in any democracy cannot discriminate based on rank and status.

When both Tuns were in power, the same actions were taken against Anwar in 1998. And when both Tuns returned to power in 2018, the political rumours in the country strongly indicated that the Council of Elders centred at Menara Ilham had sent tax collectors all the way to Istana Johor.

This was not to mention Tun's actions in searching the late Tun Rahah's house when she was in her twilight years.

In a robust post-2018 election democracy, Dr Mahathir and Anwar must acknowledge that no government will endure without the support and performance of the Dewan Rakyat.

Approaching 2024, what was certain was not the Dubai Move but two things aimed directly at the people's pockets: Taxes and rationalised subsidies.

According to the Budget 2024 presented last October, among the new and expanded government tax collections were as follows: 10 per cent capital gains tax, 10 per cent high-value goods tax, a service tax increased from six to eight per cent, and the most controversial - a 10 per cent tax on low-value goods.

This year, fuel and electricity subsidies will be rationalised to ensure that only those truly deserving receive assistance.

In the central Padu database, people were required to register and verify personal information by March 31.

Past lesson: Malaysians did not like to be coerced.

Pressed by high subsidy burdens and a squeezing fiscal position - where operating expenses were expected to consume 98 per cent of government revenue this year - Anwar has no other choice.

Handling public funds must be the top priority on the Prime Minister's agenda on Level 5, Perdana Putra Building - not the Dubai Move.

Happy New Year, dear readers, remember the new taxes.

Elviza has written for two prime ministers and now resides in Shah Alam with her son Luqman.

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