Archive for October 31st, 2013

Ten years after exiting, Dr M remains on stage

by Opalyn Mok, Joseph Sipalan, Ida Lim & Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
October 31, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — When Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad retired on Oct 31, 2003 after 22 tumultuous years in power, he was the only prime minister many Malaysians ever knew. A decade later, his critics and supporters alike would not be faulted for wondering if he ever intended to leave the political scene.

Or is he even capable of letting go?

The evidence suggests not. After all he was a significant factor in the downfall of his immediate successor and a major reason why the country’s current prime minister came to power.

The man, now a sprightly 88-year-old, has spent a notable number of years in his 10-year retirement making splashes in the media, headlining events and even taking on the political stage for Barisan Nasional (BN) during the just-concluded May 5 general election.

Despite being retired, observers still accuse Dr Mahathir of leading a faction in the ruling Umno through his son Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, even if the latter’s loss in the vice-presidential race recently led to the conclusion that Team Mahathir’s influence has waned.

His former protege and all-time bitter rival Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim too has agreed that Dr Mahathir still commands a significant following in Umno, if not in Malaysian politics in general

But he blamed this on Dr Mahathir’s successors, saying they had allowed his former boss to remain “in power”. Read the rest of this entry »


Perspective is everything

Mariam Mokhtar
Oct 28, 2013

Kim Jong-un of North Korea, the world’s youngest leader, is usually known as ‘The Great Successor’. He could use other titles like Supreme Leader, First Chairman, Commander and First Secretary, but the one he treasures, because it gives him respect, is the honorary doctorate awarded by HELP University which is based in Kuala Lumpur.

Nowadays, we all take honorary degrees for granted. Despots or those who literally shoot their way to the top, use their titles like badges of honour. Unscrupulous vice-chancellors desperate for donations award honorary degrees like confetti at a wedding.

The honorary award resembles Najib Abdul Razak’s ‘I help you, you help me’. Theoretically, awards may be revoked, if the recipient is involved in human rights abuses or corruption, but few universities are willing. Curtin University has honoured Rosmah Mansor, the self-styled First Lady of Malaysia, and the University of Adelaide gave an honorary doctorate to Sarawak Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud.

Dr Kim’s award brought worldwide notoriety to HELP and its president, Dr Paul Chan, has been villified.

They say that Dr Chan is either stupid or ignorant; he is neither. When Myanmar opened up its doors, there was a stampede of Malaysian businessmen touting for business. North Korea cannot isolate itself forever, but Dr Chan has already got a head start. Read the rest of this entry »