By Aathi Shankar
Speculations are rife that Tun Daim Zainuddin could be roped into Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s Cabinet taking over the same portfolio that he helmed before – the Finance Ministry.
This latest political strategy was plotted in last week’s meeting of Mahathir’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Malaysian United Indigenous Party) or PPBM.
It’s learnt that the 81-year-old Daim could replace current Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng of DAP by this year.
PPBM deputy president and Mahathir’s son Mukhriz is expected to quit as Jerlun MP to pave way for the octogenarian to contest the by-election in Kedah.
Once and if he wins as expected, Daim will be appointed as the finance minister.
“The by-election may take place in October or November,” said a PPBM insider.
Mahathir is said had decided to rope in Daim, formerly finance minister between 1984 and 1991, because he had lost control of Guan Eng.
Nonagenarian Mahathir appointed Guan Eng as the finance minister to fulfill the terms and conditions in his pre-GE14 deal with DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang .
Mahathir made the deal with Kit Siang to gain Chinese support to oust Umno-led Barisan Nasional federal government headed by then Premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The deal was also to secure the DAP’s support for Mahathir to return to Putrajaya as the country’s 7th Prime Minister (PM7) if Pakatan Harapan wins GE14.
Other terms in the deal were for Mahathir to appoint DAP nominees as minister of communications and multimedia and the attorney-general (AG).
Post-GE14, Mahathir thought he could still control Guan Eng by wielding the Penang Tunnel Scandal like the sword of Damocles hanging over the DAP man’s head.
But it’s learnt, a confident Guan Eng had slowly and surely moved away from Mahathir’s clutch and running the national treasury in his own style.
“So long DAP’s nominee AG Tommy Thomas remains as the party staunch loyalist, Guan Eng would be virtually untouchable,” said a political observer.
An insider said Guan Eng has shown scant respect to both Mahathir and Daim, the chairman of Council of Eminent Persons, the advisory body to the PH government.
Guan Eng is said had blatantly ignored and brushed aside recommendations and advice from both the senior men in running his ministry.
“Mahathir is upset about it.”
Guan Eng, ably aided by his special officer Tony Pua Kiam Wee, has transformed the Finance Ministry into a DAP’s fiefdom.
The insider said the Finance Ministry had more or less transformed into a “Chinese fish market” since Guan Eng took over in May 2018 after the 14th General Election (GE14).
If Daim returns as speculated then Guan Eng could be moved to another ministry, probably taking over from Gobind Singh Deo as the Communications and Multimedia Minister.
Gobind Singh could then replace the underperforming Teresa Kok Suh Sim as the Primary Industries Minister.
All these plots have been mapped out on PPBM strategic layout.
But whether DAP would accept them remains to be seen.