Dr. Mahathir’s Attempt at Redemption

Koon Yew Yin
29th March 2016

Like many Malaysians who followed the Citizen’s Declaration Congress which was televised live yesterday by our internet media (thanks to our brave independent media for daring to put it out for public viewing!), I thought that the star of the daylong event was Dr Mahathir.

Although the oldest speaker there by a big margin, at 90 years old, he appeared the youngest and smartest of the group of 19 speakers! We could all see that his mind is still sharp; his wit is one of a kind; and his political instincts still intact. His was also the most enjoyable speech to listen to.

Earlier, UMNO’s Secretary General, Tengku Adnan put out a stern warning to UMNO members not to attend the Shah Alam gathering as he saw it as a platform to destroy an institution and create chaos while serving to achieve certain individuals’ goals and agenda.

What silliness coming from someone who is leader in a so-called democratic party. This was a stupid action and shows the extent of desperation and authoritarianism found in the party’s leadership. I am sure despite his warning tens if not hundreds of thousands of UMNO members will have tuned to the websites to view the programme.

And if Tengku Adnan himself and the other apple polishers and “Cash is King” followers in UMNO were also listening to Dr. Mahathir’s speech – as I think many of them would be doing – I hope they not only feel fearful but also feel ashamed for blindly supporting the Prime Minister in this period of our political history.

Dr. Mahathir today appears to be the number one hate figure in UMNO’s ruling circles. He has been branded as a traitor to the Malay race. One Malay blogger has termed him as “Ku Klux Kling” and has described Dr. Mahathir’s position in UMNO in this way.

To see him now holding hands with those he incarcerated and when he was in power just who are (sic) also those who want to undermine the sanctity of Islam in this country, so he could oust the current Prime Minister, is heart breaking for lack of a better word. You don’t burn your house down or work with outsiders just because you have a quarrel with a sibling. Like it or not, Najib is the elder brother in UMNO and Mahathir has to respect that. He should not have resigned in 2003 if he cannot accept that his successors would have their own style and once gone he is a has-been. Working with the enemies of your party just so you can save the party is just a stupid excuse to cover up one’s insidious personal agenda.

Unfortunately for that pro-Najib blogger, it is not just Dr. Mahathir alone in UMNO who feels that Najib has to go.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin, Tengku Razaleigh (okay, Ku Li appears to be like a lallang and seems to have changed his mind now that he has signed on the Kelantan Declaration), former Minister Shafie Apdal, UMNO Division Chiefs in Gerakan Ketua Cawangan Malaysia (GKCM), Wanita member Anina Saadudin, the Teluk Kemang Umno Six and countless others who dare not surface openly or have chosen to remain quiet – these are all UMNO loyalists who realize that the party is overrun with people who are ‘pemakan dedak’ (literally, meaning those eating animal feed) and who see Najib as the major problem.

Dr Mahathir: Atoning for His Past Misdeeds?

Why has Dr. Mahathir put his exalted place in UMNO and Malaysia history on the line? Why has he teamed up with his most bitter enemies to fight the UMNO system which as we all know he was a major figure in creating? Why has he volunteered to drive the truck or lorry containing 1million signatures calling for Najib’s removal to the Yang Dipertuan Agong’s residence?

Various analysts have tried to put it down to his lust for power. Some have said that it is because Dr. Mahathir wants his son, Mukhriz, to have a shot at becoming UMNO President and Prime Minister. Others have said that he has gone senile.

But a senile man cannot argue the way that Dr. Mahathir has done in the Congress and many other public fora on the need to remove Najib from his position as Prime Minister. The fact is that neither Najib nor anyone else in Najib’s corner dares to be put on a stage with Dr. Mahathir and debate with him on the 1MDB issue or any of the other scandals that have been part of Najib’s administration.

Dr. Mahathir could have enjoyed the last few years of his life spending time with his grand children and touring the world. He could have easily said “I have done more than enough” and walked away from the Malaysian political scene.

Instead he has chosen not only to return to the political rough and tumble but to take a position in which he risks everything he has accumulated during his years of power: fame, perks, privilege, reputation, wealth, and so on. He knows that it is a fight in which he is out-numbered and is likely to lose. But he is giving it his best shot.

For this we have to take our hats off to him.

Tengku Adnan has described UMNO supporters who do not support the party President as termites who are better off leaving the party. Even if he does not succeed in reforming the party, the fact that he has been able to get some members of UMNO on the side of the opposition gives me hope that the next election may not go UMNO’s way as many are predicting.

In a strange way, Dr. Mahathir in his twilight years may yet again be the catalyst for change in the country. This time is for the better.

If so, he will have atoned for his past misdeeds and redeemed his good name – at least with me!

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  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 29 March 2016 - 6:09 pm

    I noticed Dr. M grimace each time he was criticised by the other participants. He clearly has his own agenda. So it surprises me that so much THREAT is being issued by UMNO leaders when they have not carried out anything on the Congress.

    It shows the worry is real. Najib’s team is fast losing confidence in him. Question is what he will do now?

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