Observant, meticulous, innovative, authoritarian, contemptuous, belligerent and super tactician.
These are some of the adjectives former Deputy Prime Minister Musa Hitam used to describe Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s PM for 22 years in his new book “Frankly Speaking”.
In a chapter dedicated to the highs and lows of the Mahathir administration, Musa said that the shrewd politician was a man of vision dedicated to the well-being of the country.
Under Mahathir’s stewardship, Malaysia became widely respected and became an inspiration to other developing nations, thanks to his no-nonsense micro-management approach.
Musa also revealed that Mahathir was a stickler for detail and often took notes at every meeting.
“Mahathir was also very creative and innovative.
“He wanted to invent things like an Islamic toilet in pursuit of better public hygiene.”
He wrote that Mahathir could also be “quite pleasant and engaging” at times.
However, Musa said, the elderly statesman had his deficiencies, namely his belligerence, lack of interest in dialogue and general authoritarianism.
Discussion and debate, he added, was “never the order of the day”.
Musa noted that Mahathir would brush off dissenting views and dismiss those he felt were a hindrance to Vision 2020 for Malaysia to be a developed state.
Mahathir, Musa said, was also very critical of the Malays.
“Indeed, he could be quite contemptuous of them and their alleged inferiority. In more recent times, he is on record as saying that ‘the Malays are stupid’.”
Despite Musa praising the many positive things of Mahathir’s administration, he summed it up as an “abject failure” as Mahathir failed to groom a suitable successor.