Aug 19, 2013
If the third prime minister of Malaysia, Hussein Onn, had not nominated Mahathir Mohamad as his successor in 1981, the course of Malaysian history would have been very different.
Mahathir may have left office after 22 years in power, but today, he pops up like those annoying advertisements which appear, without warning, on your computer screen. Mahathir’s messages act in a similar way to some of those adverts; they can harm your computer with malware or other unwanted files, when they are “opened”. Perhaps, we need a spam-blocker that will work on Mahathir.
How will we ever learn from history, if we are prevented from examining what has gone badly wrong for this nation? Mahathir’s policies continue to divide the nation, but many Malays are under the illusion that he is their saviour. Sadly, after 56 years of independence, it is mostly non-Malays who are more Malaysian than the Malays.
Until we get a change in government, only one man can stop Mahathir’s deleterious effects on the nation – Najib Abdul Razak – but he either won’t or can’t bring himself to perform this saintly task. Such is the hold that Mahathir has over Najib.
Yesterday, Mahathir urged that MAS be privatised. His penchant for privatisation enables profitable companies to be annexed by his cronies or Umno Baru nominees. This practice has all but bankrupted the nation.
It is ironic that the man who once said that “Melayu mudah lupa”, should forget his role in handing the national airline carrier, on a golden platter to Tajudin Ramli. Few MAS employees will ever forget how the company’s performance plummeted with Tajudin at its helm.
Mahathir observed that Umno Baru had failed to tap into young, smart Malay professionals. He claimed that Umno Baru, unlike PAS, did not like, and possibly feared people who were smarter than its leaders. Again, Mahathir mudah lupa. He once isolated younger men in his cabinet, like Anwar Ibrahim and Musa Hitam, in an attempt to contain their political aspirations.
When Mahathir was the education minister in the early 70s, he quelled student unrest with an iron fist. Did he forget that the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA), which many associate with Umno Baru, stops young adults from their right to full political expression?
Younger people find the opposition coalition more appealing and Umno Baru is aware of this. In GE13, voters at polling centres were separated into one queue for elderly people and another for young adults.
EC officials ensured that the queues for the elderly moved relatively fast, whereas queues for the young moved with laborious slowness. In many instances, young voters, simply gave up and left despite staying in line for hours. Umno Baru reasoned that young people were more impatient and impetuous, and welcomed their absence.
We are told that Najib is known as Bapak Transformasi (Father of Transformation). History will be the judge of his success at transforming both the nation, and his party, Umno Baru.
Fears of greatest treachery
Najib realises that the nation is ripe for change but he is tortured by the recalcitrance of his party members. Like them, he has only his own interests at heart, and not the interests of the rakyat who elected them to office. He has only himself to blame for the bad example he set, which strengthened the Umno Baru delegates’ resolve against reform.
Najib knows his enemies from outside the party, but he fears that the greatest treachery to befall him will come from within his own party. He knows that many within his own cabinet would not hesitate to stick a knife into his back.
The new Home Minister Zahid Hamidi is openly defying Najib’s authority and also that of his cousin, Hishamuddin Hussein, the former home minister. Recently, Zahid unearthed 260,000 hard-core criminals, whereas Hishammuddin had found none and even had the audacity to tell the rakyat that the increase in crime was just a perception.
Zahid recently found 250,000 Shiite Muslims, when Hishammuddin did not even allude to them during his tenure as home minister. These are attempts to discredit Hishammuddin, and Najib, the cousin who put him there.
These machinations are possibly designed to unseat Najib at the crux of his political career, the Umno Baru general assembly which will be held later this year.
Earlier this month, Zahid warned that if the Sedition Act 1948 was abolished, four aspects of the federal constitution, namely the special rights of the Malays, the status of Malay rulers, the status of Islam as the federal religion and the status of Malay as the national language would be affected. Putting on a defiant tone, he advocated for the Act to be retained and said that he was unwilling to compromise on this issue.
When Najib promised to repeal the Sedition Act, last year, was he using this as a carrot to trick the public into voting for Umno Baru in GE13? Did Najib have any intention of keeping this promise or was it just a ploy to get the voters to think that he was a reformist?
Perhaps, Najib will use Zahid’s interjection as a convenient excuse not to repeal the Sedition Act and so win back the support of the hardliners in Umno Baru.
Unlike Zahid, Najib is facing the most important battle in his political life. Is Zahid’s opposition to the abolition of the Act a means to present himself as the true defender of the Malays and of Islam in Malaysia?
All roads lead to Mahathir
Zahid is not acting on his own and it is glaringly evident, that all roads lead to Mahathir. The former PM has been very vocal in the past few weeks and will continue until the Umno party conference.
Mahahir will continue to instigate and foment dissent. His divisive policies are symbolic of his rule. When he left office in 2003, few outside of Umno Baru were moved when he wept as he made his resignation speech. His successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi gave us hope, but even he failed the rakyat miserably.
Mahathir claims that Umno Baru is the only party that can save the Malays. This is another of his damned lies. In truth, Umno Baru has caused the downfall of the Malays; ordinary Malays have become beggars in their own land because of his policies, and the Umno Baru elite are just pimps living off everyone else.
Today, time is running out for Malaysia, and if Najib does not act to defuse the racial and religious time-bomb set by Mahathir, it will cause untold damage to the country. Mahathir cares for nothing but the continuation of his legacy, through his son, Mukhriz. A leader who does not give a damn for the peace, prosperity and economic stability of the country, might as well be called the Father of Corruption. Apa lagi Mahathir mahu?
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.