K Shanmugam, minister for law and home affairs, engaged in some literary analysis over Mahathir Mohamad's naming of his new political party.
Mahathir, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, recently left his old party Bersatu, which he founded after leaving his even older party UMNO.
He announced the formation of a new political party, although he did not announce an official name then.
Thanks for making me Fighter
Now it appears that the nonagenarian has settled on one.
In a Facebook post on Aug. 12, he revealed that the party's name is Pejuang, which translates to "Fighter" or "Warrior".
Also in his post, he implored Malaysians to fight against corruption and to choose his party, the "Fighters", perhaps in view of the rumoured upcoming Malaysia general election.
The post, which was also published on his blog, took the form of a Malay poem, which you can see below.
Shanmugam: Two lines in Mahathir's poem are interesting
But Shanmugam noticed something he felt was significant about Mahathir's post.
In a Facebook post of his own on the same day, he wrote:
Dr Mahathir introduced the name of his new party by reference to a poem. Party’s name is “Pejuang” meaning fighter/warrior.
Two lines in the poem are interesting:
“Lihat Melayu negara jiran.
Melayu lagikah negara mereka?”
“Look at the Malays of the neighbouring country.
Is their country still Malay?”
And he added, "Wonder which country Dr Mahathir is referring to."
Mahathir didn't state outright if he was referring to Singapore, even as he announced the name of his new party.
Pejuang faces a rough road ahead
Mahathir may be free of Bersatu, but he might struggle to regain the heights of his power, as he did with the Pakatan Harapan coalition in 2018.
James Chai, legal consultant, researcher and columnist for Malaysiakini, noted that Mahathir's new party would likely split the vote even further, as Bersatu supporters are divided.
He theorised this would have the net effect of strengthening the UMNO-PAS (Islamic Party of Malaysia) bloc even more.
Pejuang also lacks the support of both the grassroots and the elite leadership, as that takes time to build.
But Mahathir seems willing to get right into the fray, announcing his new party's support for an independent candidate contesting the by-election of Slim, a state constituency in Perak.
Amir Khusyairi Mohd Tanusi, a 38-year-old lawyer, is set to contest the polls on Aug. 29.
Time will tell if Mahathir's support will be enough to swing the vote in his favour.
Top image from Shanmugam and Mahathir's Facebook pages.