COMMENT “Mahathir wants me dead but I pray that Mahathir will live to 100 years to see the decline and end of Mahathirism.”
Little did Lim Kit Siang know at the time that Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s influence would dwindle within the next three years of him uttering those words.
Fast backward, prior to the last general election, the 75-year-old DAP stalwart was furious because the 90-year-old former premier wanted the voters in Gelang Patah to put Lim’s political career in a coffin.
Lim said Mahathir’s “kubur” (grave) remark elicited a “rapturous response” from then deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin who declared “I was ‘trapped’ in Gelang Patah and that I was ‘finished’ politically.”
There was not the only thing which ruffled his feathers.
Mahathir had also warned that Lim, should he be elected, would bring conflict and antagonism among the races, especially between the Chinese and the Malays.
“When Lim decided to contest in Chinese-majority Gelang Patah, it is because he wanted the Chinese there and in Johor to reject working together and sharing with the Malays.
“An unhealthy racial confrontation would replace Sino-Malay cooperation which has made Malaysia stable and prosperous.
“That cooperation would end when Kit Siang wins Gelang Patah,” he said.
But now, it appears that Mahathir and Lim – having won Gelang Patah – are willing to bury the decades-long hatchet and work together to save the nation from Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Prior to this, Lim had spent most of his political career attempting to save Malaysia from Mahathir while the latter was dead set on saving Malaysia from the former.
For example, in a blog posting in 2012, Lim responded to Mahathir on the reasons for BN’s dismal performance in the 2008 polls under the stewardship of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
“The reason why Abdullah suffered the worst Umno/BN electoral defeat in the 2008 general election is because he failed to live up to his promise in the landslide 2004 general election victory to begin the serious task to dismantle the Mahathirish legacy of corruption, cronyism, and abuses of power.
“Recently, Mahathir has resurrected the worst strains of Mahathirism viz rabid racism, to the curses of corruption, cronyism and abuses of power, when he stoked racial fears among the Malays with his warnings that Malays will lose power if Umno loses the next general election, that Najib is a weak prime minister and that reforms could spark unrest, that the 13GE will be about race and that the Chinese voters are the kingmakers for the 13GE and will decide who forms the government – exhortations which are not only untrue, most incendiary, and highly provocative, but totally against five decades of Malaysian nation-building, his own Vision 2020 of Bangsa Malaysia, and Najib’s 1Malaysia concept.”
In December 2014, Lim lamented that instead of showing a benign and constructive influence in Malaysian life and politics, Mahathir had become an “evil influence”.
“Mahathir is not in retirement but is hyper-active in speaking engagements to continue his fear-mongering, incitement of hate, and spreading of lies,” Lim thundered.
But then again this is politics, and in the words of Mahathir himself, there are no permanent friends nor foes. Alliances change, according to common interests.
Furthermore, politicians do suffer from amnesiac spells.
Indeed, the recent meeting between Mahathir and Lim “to find a solution to the national cul de sac” shows that politics is really the art of the possible.
Tomorrow, Mahathir is expected to ink a joint declaration with a gaggle of opposition leaders, some of whom had suffered the brunt of Mahathirism.