Anti-Mahathir dark clouds are forming on the horizon and the Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad ought to watch out, says a columnist in The Star daily.

The article appeared on July 2 and deals with the return of Umno’s president from a six months garden leave, which has got tongues waggling in the country.

There are talks of a coup against the man who led Umno to a string of by-election victories by pro-Najib Razak forces – the current Umno leader Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was deputy PM under Najib.

Najib and Zahid has also strengthened their team in the Umno’s supreme council co-opting several supporters at the highest level in the party.

But The Star says Dr Mahathir’s personal disdain for Ahmad Zahid will get the PM to turn the pressure on Umno. He was less harsh on Umno after the party’s deputy Mohamad Hasan or popularly known as Mat Hasan took charge.

Hasan defeated the Pakatan Harapan in a few crucial by-elections whereas Zahid lost a few against the ruling coalition.

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The Star cites political insiders and analysts saying the return of Zahid will intensify the tension between Mahathir and Umno.

Prime Minister to be Anwar Ibrahim has also commented on the return of Zahid, which makes it a bigger deal than one would think.

Anwar says Mat Hasan did not have enough support within the party and Umno members did not want Zahid to go on leave. Thus, he says, Zahid had to come back, but it shows the Umno is not solid yet.

This despite Mat Hasan’s success in restoring stability and strengthening the morale of the party.

“There seems to be a confluence of forces to take him on within and outside of his coalition. Anti-Mahathir dark clouds are forming on the horizon.

“Ahmad Zahid’s return has the blessings of Najib Razak. Both are in the crosshairs of Dr Mahathir and they seem to have joined forces to fight back. Najib is amassing Malay momentum outside of Umno via his Bossku campaign while Ahmad Zahid will do it within the party,” says the columnist.

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The paper says Zahid’s return coincides with that of another nemesis of Dr Mahathir, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who is also known as Ku Li.

Ku Li’s emergence sends a signal that ought to set off alarm bells in Dr M’s camp, says the paper.

The latter fought against Dr Mahathir in the Umno, challenging his leadership and losing by a thin margin. He then left Umno after the party was de-registered to form the Semangat 46 which did not have enough power to overthrow the Malay party from power.

Analysts say the return of Zahid as Umno president may lead to a number’s game within the Parliament. Zahid, they say, may support Anwar’s bid to become PM.