Dr Mahathir and Ku Li, two peas in a pod?


– Koon Yew Yin
The Malaysian Insider
13 March 2016

During the past 10 years I have written a great deal about our national politics and the country’s leadership. In particular I have focused on our prime ministers. What I have written has really been in response to the policies they have initiated and the way they have managed the key issues and challenges of our multi-racial society and developing economy.

Besides writing on the three prime ministers – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tun Abdullah Badawi and Datuk Seri Najib Razak – that we have had during the past 30 years I have also written extensively on two political figures who could have become prime ministers but never quite made it – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

Readers will note that my view of Dr Mahathir has not been charitable. In fact, it will be considered unkind. He – and most Malaysians, including a majority of Malays today, will agree with me – is a failed leader who has let down the country badly.

Malaysians of my generation with longer memories than the current generation who know of the stability, harmony and prosperity that we enjoyed as well as experienced the high standards of governance inherited from the British, see the son of Mohamad Iskander Kutty, Dr Mahatir, as the principal cause of our badly dysfunctional economy and society.

The worst inheritance that the man which groups such as Perkasa regard as “Bapa Malaysia” could have left the nation which was not in the form of his cock-ups such as Proton, MAS, Perjawa Steel. It was not even in the form of the cronies that he favoured which have resulted in a disproportionate proportion of the country’s wealth to be held by a few. Perwaja Steel, MAS and even Proton can be erased from the books overnight. And cronies can be compelled to renegotiate their contracts so that the national interests are protected.

It is actually in the form of the dominant party Umno which runs the country and which Dr Mahathir has shaped into a right wing, ketuanan Melayu party which has placed Malay special interests above all else.

Umno is the nation’s bully which has destroyed many of our important institutions such as the judiciary. It fosters cronyism which has impoverished our economy, and undermined many of our basic rights and freedoms.

And Dr Mahathir is the man who nurtured this bully to what it has become today: an oppressive grouping of Umnoputras but functioning like a baby’s alimentary canal with a healthy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.

Imagine my surprise therefore two weeks ago to read of Dr Mahathir’s resignation from the party which he has helped transform into a party of patronage and pirates.

When the news reached me. I had emailed friends the following note:

“I see Dr M has resigned from Umno. I now have some respect for him and

“I lost my respect for Tengku Razaleigh.”

Since then he has become the main figure in the unveiling of the Citizens’ Declaration which is aimed at getting the country rid of the current prime minister.

There is some talk of broad political reform in the document. But in his latest speeches, it looks like Dr Mahathir does not think there is much wrong with Umno and he is apparently waiting to return to Umno the moment Najib leaves the scene.

If this happens, then I will have to withdraw my initial reaction of having some respect for Dr. Mahathir. I hope that Dr. Mahathir gives up completely on Umno and helps the opposition come to power. That way, he will atone for the mistakes he has made and leave a positive legacy.

Ku Li’s disappearing golden principles

As for Ku Li, I and many of my colleagues had high hopes for him, especially after he came out with his own declaration in the form of Ten Golden Political Principles delivered in an address to the Perak Academy in 2009.

His speech which was made more than six years ago actually spells out the road map for reform in the country more clearly and comprehensively than what Dr Mahathir and the other signatories have come out with recently.

I have spoken and written in support of Ku Li’s Golden Principles on many occasions. But Tengku Razaleigh himself appears to have given up on them. How else can we explain why he has failed to push them in the way that Dr Mahathir has pushed his Citizen’s Declaration?

When we think hard about it, it is clear that whatever political rhetoric they are spouting or declarations or principles they come up with, Dr Mahathir, the former deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Tengku Razaleigh are hardcore, die-hard Umno leaders who will never give up on their party voluntarily.

This is why it is difficult to believe that Umno is capable of reform unless and until it is finally removed from power and sits in the opposition benches. – March 13, 2016.

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  1. #1 by waterfrontcoolie on Monday, 14 March 2016 - 3:56 pm

    After all these years of self-enrichment as a basic policy, how can one expect truth and empathy to guide the such leadership to take care of this nation. Everyone of them would have enough cash to buy instant PR overseas. And having listened to the US Presidential rhetoric, I think all politicians could hardly be trusted! And that is the main reason when a non-professional politician like Trump could take such a lead. Maybe, Malaysians should take this as a lead and revamp the whole political set-up of this country! { Admittedly in the process, we would have to throw out some very sincere politicians like YB Lim!

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