Whence Comes Another Mahathir?

by Kee Thuan Chye
Malaysian Digest
09 August 2012

Mahathir Mohamad is an angel. A perfect being. He is incapable of doing wrong. He is a model to all Malaysians. He is wise. He is incorruptible. He never took a sen while in office. He saved his salary for his old age. Whatever goodies he received when he was prime minister, he gave to the Government. He only ate some of the fruits given as gifts because they would otherwise go bad.

During the Royal Commission of Inquiry on V.K. Lingam and the fixing of federal judges, he answered many of the questions with “I don’t remember”. He genuinely didn’t. He’s a geriatric, for goon-ness’ sake! Cut the old man some slack! How can he be expected to remember so many things in the 22 years of his premiership?

His administration was the best ever, and of course the cleanest. There were some scandals, but that happens with any administration in any part of the world. What’s more, Mahathir had nothing to do with them. Others were culpable; he was above it all. There were some bailouts, but the bailouts were necessary – no, critical. Without the bailouts, the country would have been hurt.

There has also been talk that he was involved in a plot togive citizenships to illegal immigrants in Sabah.This scheme started in the 1990s so that the grateful recipients would vote for Barisan Nasional (BN) and keep it in power there. Some call it Project IC, but others call it Project M, with ‘M’ standing for Mahathir.

But of course there is no evidence to link him to it. That’s why he can now come out to say that giving citizenships to immigrants in Sabah is right, and that those who oppose it are unfair and doing so for political reasons.

He says the immigrants have lived in Sabah a long time and they are fluent in Bahasa Malaysia,so why shouldn’t they be made citizens? Yes, indeed. What more solid reasons could there be?

Of course, he may have overlooked the fact that many spouses of Malaysians have been living in Malaysia as long, if not longer, and are as fluent in Bahasa Malaysia, if not more so, but they have not even been granted permanent residence (PR) – even though they have applied a few times.

But then maybe for PR, the Government needs to be more stringent. Could it be that PR also stands for Pakatan Rakyat, and that is something the Government doesn’t want to touch?

Whatever it is, the time is opportune for Mahathir to bring this matter up. Prime Minister Najib Razak has declared he will be visiting Sabah on Aug 11 to finally announce the terms of reference for a long-awaited Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the very same issue. If Mahathir is hinting that this would be a mistake, that in fact there should be no RCI, Najib should perhaps listen to the wise old man.

Or maybe Najib could come up with terms of reference that would just probe the issue superficially. After all, he just needs to make the Sabahans happy that an RCI is carried out at all; he doesn’t have to upset anyone’s applecart.

When Mahathir was PM, he never upset anyone’s applecart. And he also tried to make a lot of people happy. He created a number of Bumputera billionaires but he also gave the Chinese ample opportunities to be rich.

As he has always maintained, the media was free. He has said he never told the media not to be critical of him; it chose by itself not to be critical. The fault was not his; it was the media’s. He didn’t castrate the media owners and editors; they castrated themselves.

It is a measure of the man that he allowed media freedom although he himself believes that freedom can be a problem. Only last month, he said in the Philippines that freedom is enjoyed “at the expense of others, often at the expense of the community as a whole”.

He was always thinking of the whole community, the community that makes up the nation of Malaysia.

By the same token, he was guarded about freedom of information. As he also said in the Philippines: “ Secrets, including sensitive military secrets, are being leaked in the name of freedom of information. The whistle-blowers are hailed as heroes … When you create a problem by revealing people’s official secrets, something has to be done about it.”

One cannot be sure if he meant the alleged leaking of secrets during the Malaysian Government’s purchase of the Scorpene submarines, but it’s doubtful that he did.

As for whistle-blowers, he could have meant Rafizi Ramli and Johari Mohamad, both of whom were recently charged for leaking information related to the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) scandal.

If he meant those two, of course he was right. They were not thinking of the community when they exposed the NFC scandal. They were not thinking of the shame and ridicule it would bring. At the expense of a Cabinet minister and her family, no less. No wonder the Government had to act against Rafizi and Johari. They deserved it.

Under Mahathir’s watch, there could never have been exposés like the Scorpene submarine deal or the NFC scandal.

That must explain why when he was prime minister, he had to stick with the Official Secrets Act – even though critics claimed it was protecting the corrupt. They wanted transparency from the deals the Government made on mega-projects. They blamed Mahathir for forsaking the tender system in favour of negotiated contracts.

They were misguided. Negotiated contracts were a necessity. He had to be certain that the big jobs were entrusted to people he knew; how else could he ensure that the projects would be successfully completed?

These naïve critics never understood that Mahathir’s responsibility was greater – and that was to look after his own people.

(So that you don’t misunderstand, “people” here refers to the rakyat of Malaysia.)

Now some people are saying that he was a dictator. How can this be? No wonder he is asking for proof that he was one. Calling him a dictator must be the unkindest cut of all.

Sure, Operation Lalang happened during his premiership and 106 people were detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) then, but that was to prevent a potential racial riot. Well, don’t forget most of them were released soon enough. And if he did extend the detention of 40 of them to two years, it was because he genuinely thought they were a security threat.

At the very least, you have to admit that he’s consistent –last April, he still said the ISA was a good law because it “could curb potential threats”. He said it kept the country safe. See? He is always thinking of the country.

He was also doing the same when seven months earlier, he supported the repeal of the ISA because it would place Malaysia “on the moral high ground”. It meant that our country would be one notch higher than Britain and the U.S. because now “they are the ones” involved in “detaining people without trial”.

We should also take note of what he said about Malaysia: “Not all those who opened their mouth were immediately detained under the ISA … and the perception that there was no freedom in Malaysia was also not correct.”

Simply put, how could he have been a dictator? Not all who spoke up were detained. And those who were did not get detained immediately. What more freedom do we want?

Mahathir is perfect. He is always right. He was and still is a leader nonpareil. He has been the best prime minister we’ve ever had. To quote a line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “Here was a Caesar! Whence comes such another?”

* Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the bestselling book No More Bullshit, Please, We’re All Malaysians, now available in majorbookstores.

  1. #1 by good coolie on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 12:07 am

    Mahatir’s a “made in Malaysia” product. Mr. Kee, if you want to know from where another such will come, I say, HERE (in Malaysia). All we need is, as before, a great many castrated politicians. Then Caesars shall arise as many as the grains of sand on the sea-shore!

  2. #2 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 12:42 am

    Enuf said about Mahathir.

    Woof, woof. Can’t stand him.

    Let Malaysians judge him. I think of him as only a little better than Idi Amin, maybe about the same as Mugabe but not as bad as Hitler.

    Oozing hypocrisy from every pore, he held Malaysia with his claws.

    Woof, woof.

  3. #3 by monsterball on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 1:20 am

    He is the most corrupt…biggest liar….dirtiest politician…and the clearest racist PM for 22 years…to apply divide and rule formula…slave driving Malaysians.
    He said ….if all Malaysians are not happy with each other ‘s race…that’s good.
    His twisting ..turning…double talks are legendary.
    He is the only retired PM in the whole wide keep interfering….keep talking non stop for 5 years….keep defending his party… as if he is still the PM.
    Mahathir cannot be compared to Julius Ceasar.
    Mahathir encouraged corruptions and took RM1,2 billion EPF money to save his son.
    He was exposed to have taken more than RM100 billion in his 22 years.
    He ruled like a King above all kings for 22 years.
    Bad luck for Malaysians to have a devil reincarnated man as PM.
    He was the best a con man…..fooling his own race.
    Mahathir and Najib are hated by vast majority Malaysians.

  4. #4 by Loh on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 9:15 am

    We should now curse AAB. AAB should have realized that Mamakthir is the worst curse on Malaysia and yet as PM he did not make Mamakthir answer for his evil deeds. Najib is even worse. He allows Mamakthir to make this country more racially polarized as patron of Perkasa, and now Mamakthir is declaring that illegals in Sabah are more worthy as citizens than some non-Malays citizens who have birth right as citizens.

  5. #5 by Loh on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 9:19 am

    Riduan Tee, the convert into Malay, would be equally bad as Mamakthir. The common trait they share is that they are not true Malay, and they suffer the inferiority complex of preparing themselves everyday to be accepted as Malay.

  6. #6 by Godfather on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 9:57 am

    “…they are not true Malay….” Loh

    That’s why they have to work extra hard to ensure that they are superior to the true Malays. “Extra hard” as in misinterpreting the constitution, brainwashing through the mainstream media, and putting the blame on everybody else, especially the non-Malays.

  7. #7 by Godfather on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 10:00 am

    Mamakthir’s defence of his involvement in Project IC is designed as a warning to Najib – who is expected to unveil the terms of reference for the RCI on Sabah. It is possible that the terms of reference do not allow the Commission to go back to the period before 2004, thereby preventing the discovery of the Mamak’s involvement.

  8. #8 by monsterball on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 10:11 am

    Mahathir made sure Sabah becomes his UMNO b security blanket by importing thousands ..give them citizenship and to vote for BN.
    All exposed and the truths are revealed.
    Sabahans are ready for change and Najib going there to play Santa Clause role again.
    Buying hearts with good news…..buying votes with money are always the ways to do it…when election is near by Najib.

  9. #9 by yhsiew on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 10:14 am

    Mahathir was confused (perhaps deliberately) with ILLEGAL immigrants and LEGAL migrants.

    How can citizenship be granted to ILLEGAL immigrants after they have been here for many years and speak Bahasa?

    Citizenship can only be given to LEGAL migrants.

  10. #10 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 11:32 am

    Good one KTC! Giving Mahathiu a taste of his own medicine – liberal use of sarcasm.

  11. #11 by yhsiew on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 11:39 am

    #9 Oops!

    confused (perhaps deliberately) with ILLEGAL immigrants and LEGAL migrants.

    should be

    confused (perhaps deliberately) BETWEEN ILLEGAL immigrants and LEGAL migrants.

  12. #12 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 12:56 pm

    CrazyO’mamak’s greatest achievement: the creation of a breed of super greedy and power crazy umno people – the umnoputras!

  13. #13 by Peter on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 3:51 pm

    This mamak bum is a real foul mouth and “i dont remember” a__ hole. Already one leg in the grave and still kicking. Hope rakyat will expose all his evil deeds before he kick the bucket.

  14. #14 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 5:00 pm

    Mahathir displays his true colours to the world:

    and bares all the blackness and darkness of his soul.

    Alas, he admits to Project M, in not so many words. He seems like he knows, encourages and supports illegal immigrants as malaysians. Hmmm…world-clarse politician.

  15. #15 by jus legitimum on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 7:05 pm

    People will rejoice on that day when PR captures Putrajaya and put this extyrant mamak into jail for all the heinous crimes he committed during his 22 year reign.

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