Hornbill Unleashed

April 28, 2017

Can Mahathir be trusted?

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

“It’s not forgetting that heals. It’s remembering.”

– Amy Greene in ‘Bloodroot’

QUESTION TIME | How easily we forget.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the one who tore Umno apart, six years after he became prime minister in 1981 when a bruising battle saw him win the Umno presidential elections against challenger Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah by the narrowest margin ever. But he did much worse than that.

When Razaleigh challenged the election results and the courts declared it illegal, he did not respect the law and hold a new election. Instead, he set up a new Umno, Umno Baru, using the power of incumbency to force officialdom to facilitate the transfer of assets to Umno Baru from the old, original Umno.

He excluded from Umno Baru those who considered his opponents compelling Razaleigh to form the alternative Semangat 46. He went about solidifying his position in Umno Baru by altering the party constitution making it well nigh impossible for anyone to challenge the party president again, removing a check-and-balance so vital for democracy.

In 1987, via Operasi Lalang, he imprisoned over 100 people under the Internal Security Act or ISA and shut down several newspapers ostensibly to defuse interracial tension and bring back order, sending waves of shock and fear throughout the country and consolidating his then tenuous hold on power.

He is the man who is a master at exploiting racial divisions for his own gain, using it pre and post the May 13, 1969 riots – riots whom by some accounts he “predicted” will happen – to gain rapid ascension after Malaysia’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman was effectively deposed by his deputy, Abdul Razak Hussein, current Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s father. Razak worked closely with young turks within Umno who included Mahathir and Musa Hitam amongst them.

Mahathir took revenge on the judiciary in 1988, emasculating them by suspending the Lord President and several Supreme Court judges and putting puppets in their place, a body blow from which the judiciary is yet to recover. Then on, Mahathir played enforcer, prosecutor, and judge. He could pretty much do what he wanted without controls, setting the stage for Malaysia’s descend into an abyss from which it is struggling to crawl out of now.

There’s a fuller list of questionable things he did in an article I wrote for The Edge in June 2006 which was used in The Sun, three years after he stepped down, which posed a series of 22 groups of questions on his leadership, one for each of the 22 years he held the reins of power in the country.

During the Asian financial crisis in 1998, he again resorted to strong-arm tactics to stay in power when his deputy then Anwar Ibrahim, now jailed opposition leader, mounted a thinly-disguised challenge to his leadership as the ringgit declined precipitously and the region was in turmoil following sharp falls in regional currencies.

Mahathir reacted swiftly and sharply, expelling him from all government and party posts and then sending in an elite squad to capture him at machinegun-point and detain him under the infamous ISA. He simultaneously imposed capital controls to stem the damage on the currency. And then came the sodomy charges against Anwar.

Paradoxically, it was Anwar who ensured Mahathir’s narrow victory in the 1987 party election when he prevailed upon Najib to cast the votes controlled by his block to Mahathir. If Najib had not and favoured Razaleigh instead, Razaleigh would most likely have won.

Mahathir did not even use the benefit of his dictatorial powers for the sake of the nation the way Lee Kuan Yew did for Singapore as I pointed in an article comparing the two. Lee used his immense powers to cut corruption, improve the quality of education and evolve a strong, competent and incorruptible civil service amongst others. Mahathir effectively promoted corruption and patronage, oversaw a decline in educational standards and undermined one of the finest civil services in Asia with his arbitrary decision-making.

What is it about Mahathir that makes the opposition so enamoured of him? People like Anwar and Lim Kit Siang who directly suffered so much from his blatant misuse of authority to perpetuate his own power and continuance?

Forget to remember

Perhaps the opposition feels, like a lot of people, that Mahathir has some power of invincibility and that he can influence the people. But an examination of history does not show this as I explained in an article in 2006.

Mahathir was elected MP for the Kota Setar Selatan seat in Kedah in 1964. It was established early on that he was not invincible when he lost the seat to PAS’ Yusof Rawa in 1969. According to some accounts, he had said in 1969 that he did not need Chinese votes to win.

Following the May 13, 1969 riots, Mahathir wrote a widely-circulated letter criticising then-prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman. He was dismissed from his Umno supreme council position and expelled from the party. The following year, he wrote the controversial book ‘The Malay Dilemma’ which was promptly banned, the ban being lifted in 1981 when Mahathir became prime minister.

Mahathir was readmitted into Umno in 1972 after Razak assumed the mantle. The Tunku had stepped down in 1970 after the 1969 riots. Mahathir stood for the Kubang Pasu parliamentary seat in 1974 and won unopposed, retaining the seat until 2004 when he did not contest after his retirement. He was appointed education minister in 1975. The vital turning point for Mahathir came the following year when Hussein Onn became prime minister following Razak’s untimely death. Hussein picked Mahathir as his deputy.

And this was not because Mahathir enjoyed overwhelming support in Umno. Mahathir was picked over two Umno vice-presidents who had higher votes than him, Ghafar Baba and Razaleigh. An accident of fate put Mahathir in line for the top position. When Hussein retired due to failing health, Mahathir became prime minister in 1981.

And in 2006 when he attempted to get elected as a delegate to Umno, after stepping down as prime minister, so as to voice his opinions at the Umno general assembly, he got a thumping defeat, meriting an article in The New York Times. He was placed ninth in a field of 15 for delegates from Kubang Pasu, his former seat! Mahathir pleaded money politics – something he never bothered to check during his time.

Despite his intense, tireless campaigning at the age of over 90 in both Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar in June last year, BN won handsomely in both seats, indicating that Mahathir has insignificant sway with the Malay voters anyway.

The opposition is not likely to benefit much from Mahathir and his party Bersatu, especially with PAS now seeming to align itself with the government. It seems unlikely that the disunited opposition will win.

But what if the opposition won? What if Bersatu held the balance of power? Would it stick with Pakatan Harapan or would it go over to Umno and make a deal by telling Umno to get rid of Najib and bring back Muhyiddin Yassin to take over as prime minister?

Surely Anwar as PM would be unthinkable for Mahathir even if a process of pardon could be initiated. Mahathir can tell Harapan, no deal unless Muhyiddin becomes PM. And so we go from Najib to Muhyiddin – is that a big improvement in the overall scheme of things?

That’s what Mahathir wants to be – a power broker, the king-maker. That way no matter who is in power, he is not going to be brought into account for his past misdeeds. That way he has a pretty good chance of putting his son, Mukhriz, in a strong position to assume future leadership. That way he is assured that history – written by the victors as the wise tell us – will be far more kindly to him.

If any one takes the trouble to remember what this man did and stood for, he would be mad to think that Mahathir is the solution – he was, and is, the problem. Without him and his 22 years of misrule, Malaysia would not have descended to what it is today.

Mahathir was accountable to no one. Not the people, not the party, not the judges. He could do almost anything he pleased and get away with it using the apparatus and machinery of control he had put in place.

He made opaque many decisions of government, putting anything marked secret by the government as secret under the law by removing the power of judges to judge even if the secret posed no danger to the country but only embarrassed the government and exposed its corrupt ways.

That was the legacy he left behind – and a leader who followed him used it to do nasty things, some worse than that by Mahathir. Now we expect Mahathir – the source of all this – to save us Malaysians from Najib!

Is that why Mahathir is sticking his neck out? For the good of the country? But remember he had his chance – 22 years of it. He bungled – all he did was to stay in power and do the greatest damage to the country ever by any one, prime minister or not.

His goal now is not to get into power but to ensure that whoever comes into power does not destroy him. As far as Mahathir is concerned, it is always about him – not Malaysia, not Malaysians, not even the Malays.

If only the opposition thought like Mahathir and stayed focused on their goal – which is not to just remove Najib but to change the government for the better – they will stay well away from a man like Mahathir – his record is there for all to see. Instead they have been seduced by the mantra, let’s get rid of Najib first.

If the opposition, in its strange state of amnesia, continues to forget to remember, they are going to lose their chance to heal this nation, their agenda hijacked by the one who was ultimately responsible for all this.


P GUNASEGARAM
Source : @ Malaysiakini


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5 Comments »

  1. sa ekor Ular ada 2 kepala dah terok, ni kacang yg dah lupa kulit kit-lin ada 5 kepal,lagi terror, even Tg Rambutan residents pun tak trust ni Ular, siapa..?..Siapa..? Siapa..? tarik Pak Lah turun…??? siapa siapa sokong MO1 jadi Pee Mmmm…??? Siapa…Siapa…set up BTN..??? Siapa selalu cakap Msia is the ONLY Country in the World allow Chinese bahasa to be taught in Schools…??? Apa tu Lan Jiou Constitutions di Malaysia…??? tiu nia mah…

    Comment by tiuniamah — May 2, 2017 @ 4:16 PM | Reply

  2. Not me ,devil in sheep wool advocate of racism who split Malays,Indians and Chinese for his political game and made fools of all the “Orang Kampong”.Education “English” is not important and yet his children and cucus are send to oversea for English education and our “Orang Kampong ” Malay spoken become their drivers.

    Comment by Salim — May 2, 2017 @ 12:43 PM | Reply

  3. He is now acting as a halal devil to kill the haram devil

    Comment by tigeryk — May 1, 2017 @ 10:13 PM | Reply

  4. Corruption could be donation, CM and PM could be a public officer or not, dedak could be AP, habuan could be gift, as and when convenient, term could be changed. Just tell me what you want.

    Comment by JH — April 30, 2017 @ 4:06 PM | Reply

  5. Why is Najib going around the world representing Malaysia if he is not a Malaysian Public Servant? The President of the United States, Donald Trump is the Public Servant in Chief. Even Singapore considers it’s PM as Public Servant No.1.

    Comment by Slumdog — April 29, 2017 @ 8:59 AM | Reply


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