PM Najib has been under constant onslaught and ridicule from former PM Mahathir in recent months while the 1MDB debt issue has been fried up. At last, Najib tossed out a stern warning in his cabinet: Stand by me and 1MDB rationalization program, or leave!
This should have been the strongest statement from Najib for his cabinet colleagues since he took over the premiership. This also reflects the reality that the pressure from Mahathir, the government and public consensus has swollen beyond his ability to tolerate.
By right under the country's collective responsibility cabinet system, ministers must support all the decisions made in the cabinet, and any member unhappy with the PM's decisions should quit or be fired. So, it is natural for Najib to issue an ultimatum to this opponents in the cabinet.
It is pretty common in many countries or territories for cabinet ministers to resign or get sacked half way through their tenures. For instance, US defense secretary Chuck Hagel was forced to resign over his disagreement with the White House on IS policies.
It is common for ministers to leave owing to mounting pressure from public consensus, their own incompetency or disagreement with government philosophies.
But, our cabinet is somewhat different in the way that we rarely have ministers leaving their posts out of any of the above reasons, probably because these posts have come by quite easily and that Malaysian government officials seldom need to answer to public pressure or competency questions. For us, it is survival for the fittest, and ideologies should take the back seat at best.
This time, the PM's firepower has not been released without a good reason. There are people obviously unhappy with the government's handling of 1MDB such that Najib is forced to issue the ultimatum.
So, who are the ones unhappy in the cabinet?
DPM Muhyiddin Yassin said an open statement in March that the PAC should do its job by taking the initiative to probe 1MDB. The DPM was also against mobilizing public funds to bail out the debt-ridden company. Apparently he was not standing on the same side as his boss over this issue.