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”.

“Of course Dr Mahathir has done a lot for the party, but today, he is still a very strong force to be reckoned with because there is a lack of courage and leadership in Umno,” the Opposition leader said when approached recently.

He noted it was natural for leaders, when they assume power, to be respectful of Dr Mahathir due to his contributions to the party and the nation.

“But they don’t need to be fearful or submissive to Dr Mahathir because in actuality, he does not represent the Umno ideal,” the Permatang Pauh MP said.

“Any Umno member knows Dr Mahathir, today, continues to represent the same cronyism, corrupt system and family interest but why there is no courage to speak up against him?” the PKR de facto leader said.

He then compared Dr Mahathir to Mahatma Gandhi, saying they were total opposites, calling the former the voice of corruption, cronyism and worst excesses.

“Gandhi’s influence is strong because his is the voice of conscience but Dr Mahathir’s influence is strong because there is no courage, no political will power to stand up against him and his corrupt ideals,” he said.

Dr Mahathir helmed the country for 22 years between 1981 and 2003.

He may have retired but has remained vocal on current issues and often speak out against his successors if he disagrees with their policies.

Just recently, Dr Mahathir took a swipe at Najib’s administration by calling it weak while accusing the administration of bowing down to “unreasonable demands” from extremist groups, especially from the opposition, to remain relevant to the public.

He blamed it on weak support from the people that had resulted in a weak government which led to a “lunatic fringe” holding sway over politics in the country.

His political rival and DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang pointed out that it was Dr Mahathir who was holding sway over politics in the country.

“He is the de facto political leader of Umno and indirectly, the country. Since his return to Umno in the last four years, there are viewpoints that he is the most powerful political figure in Umno, and that Najib will have to take into account his wishes and objectives,” Lim said.

The Gelang Patah MP noted that Dr Mahathir may not exert as much influence when it comes to Malaysians generally as proven by his win in Gelang Patah in the May 5 polls despite Dr Mahathir’s vow to “kuburkan” (bury) him there.

Lim believed Dr Mahathir’s continued influence in Malaysian politics is a bane and not a boon to Malaysia’s nation building in its goal to become a united, successful and competitive nation.

“We can see since the last elections, the country has never been more polarised thanks to him and since he rejoined Umno, his growing influence has impeded the recovery of national institutions and he has been an obstacle for the country to achieve Vision 2020 of a modern and democratic nation,” he said.

“That is the greatest irony of all, he is the greatest obstacle to achieving what he preached and what he advocated,” Lim added.

Dr Mahathir’s supporters, however, beg to differ.

A former civil servant who used to serve in the Prime Minister’s Department during the Mahathir administration said the latter was still influential as he was a visionary leader who thinks ahead of others.

Aiza AR, 42, pointed out that Dr Mahathir had placed Malaysia on the world map due to his iconic skyscraper, the Petronas Twin Towers and his other ambitious projects.

“He launched ambitious projects such as the new administrative centre in Putrajaya and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA),” she said.

“He saw that if we don’t do something such as from the aspect of development, the future will be difficult,” added the civil servant, who had also served during Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s time in government.

She believes the country still needs Dr Mahathir’s advice as “no leaders have been able to match his vision and ideas yet”.

  1. #1 by Godfather on Thursday, 31 October 2013 - 10:20 am

    Mamakthir is on par with Hitler and Pol Pot when it comes to social engineering.

  2. #2 by Godfather on Thursday, 31 October 2013 - 12:44 pm

    Whatever perceived support Mamakthir has is not due to his brilliance or relevance, but entirely due to the ineffectual leadership running the country today. When the people are drowning, they will clutch at straws.

  3. #3 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 31 October 2013 - 1:16 pm

    The truth is Mahathir, even if he does not know it, could not have it ANY BETTER. He is one lucky… well you know..

    There is some speculation what if Mahathir was still PM? The truth is if Mahathir was still PM, he would be a disaster..Anwar would be in jail, maybe even forgotten. Hadi Awang would be the leader of the opposition.. The lines at Australian, UK, US embassy as well as traffic into Singapore would be miles long. Investments and capital would be flying out the door and there would chaos in the streets.

    He is our Mugabe. Mubarak and Marcos but he could not be luckier he moved off the main stage before it all ended for him like it did for those he is just like. He fool no one why he did it – to consolidate his ill-gotten fortune that could not stand the scrutiny of public office even in our opaque system. Still, he is one lucky … well you know..

  4. #4 by cemerlang on Thursday, 31 October 2013 - 2:26 pm

    One died at the age of 56 and the other at 76. The younger one did so much in his lifetime. It is not him, not the leader alone. It is what he stands for, what he thinks about; all the people below him support him because may be he has that negotiating skills with others because he has a smiling nice kind face; little little things which others can make use of. The other if nobody did the dirty work for him can leave a legacy of being hated forever. No man is an island no matter how great one is. And there is the giving and taking thing. You think he does not give anything in return ?

  5. #5 by yhsiew on Thursday, 31 October 2013 - 2:29 pm

    It is true that Mamak has stepped down. But the ghost of Mahathirism must not be let to roam free and cause havoc.

  6. #6 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Thursday, 31 October 2013 - 2:46 pm

    MonsterO’mamak still serve one mighty useful purpose, for umno that is.

    MonsterO’mamak is still able during election time to whip up strong malay sentiments – albeit a very perverted one and certainly one that rural malays would find appealing ir not irresistable.

    The general election was over for some 6 months already. That is to say, his contribution is not needed now. So meanwhile, monsterO’mamak would be sidelined. Until the next GE comes he would be ignored. Of course monsterO’mamak would continue to make noise. No doubt about that.

    There is this silly view that monsterO’mamak is a visionary. Actually there is nothing visionary about the things he did. If he was truly visionary then how come most if not nearly all his visionary projects ended up as failed projects? Multimedia supercorridor was suppose to trigger knowledge economy and it is now a super-flop. Hicom (for hearvy industry) has gone under. Proton (auto industry) is on drip for a long long time. Perwaja (for steel) punched a massive hole in the nation’s artery. And the list goes on.

    If I am asked to describe him, I would say monsterO’mamak is more like a mad mad who no problem bulldozing his ideas and his way ahead without any regard for the views of others. And he does so for reasons and objectives that only he himself knows best. My guess: Initially, it could be for the good of the nation (giving him a little bit of benefit of doubt). But later on, for the pure economic benefit of his cronies and family.

  7. #7 by cintanegara on Thursday, 31 October 2013 - 2:48 pm

    LKS, don’t just talk about other people….ask yourself….. when are you going to retire instead? On the other hand, your son lost so badly in the CEC…he should step down too right? Liew Chin Tong should be the DAP new secretary general based on popular votes…you are the one who always talked about popular votes right? Lead by example la….

    • #8 by Di Shi Jiu on Friday, 1 November 2013 - 10:55 am


      You seem a bit confused about the role of LKS compared to the role of Mahatir.

      You see, LKS is still an active politican and as such he should rightly be heavily interested and involved in what happens in Malaysia.

      Mahatir, on the other hand, is supposedly retired. As such, it seems rather strange that he would still be pulling the strings, making waves, calling the shots and generally speaking like he is still running the country.

      Now, I would not mind if Mahatir only snipes from the sidelines. After all, I do it, and many other Malaysians do it.

      It is one thing to be critical but quite another thing to be running proxies like PERKASA to do one’s bidding.

  8. #9 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Thursday, 31 October 2013 - 4:41 pm

    Oh, how Ma-hate-thir wished he had followed the footsteps of Lee Kuan Yew.

    One was a Minister Mentor; the other Minister Tormentor.

    One is a world statesman; the other stands on a soap-box and sprout racist statements.

  9. #10 by tak tahan on Thursday, 31 October 2013 - 5:09 pm

    Botak Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, lost in the vice-presidential race recently led to the conclusion that Team Mahathir’s influence has waned.Maknanya tak laku,orang Umno dan melayu sekalian tak support,tak nak,sungguh memalukan.Kindly with respect step down as Menteri Besar dari Kedah.cintanegara pulak..sudaaah la kau.lol

  10. #11 by cintanegara on Thursday, 31 October 2013 - 5:17 pm

    TheWrathOfGrapes ‘s claim sounds like sour grapes to me…He/She is trying to tell right from wrong….hahaa typical DAP hardcore supporter…

  11. #12 by worldpress on Thursday, 31 October 2013 - 8:54 pm

    Only those Monkey brains listen to this Mamak.

    Human see clearly is a highly corrupted person of crime.

  12. #13 by undertaker888 on Thursday, 31 October 2013 - 9:03 pm

    Mamak is on stage but only katak Ali and gang are watching and thumping their elongated breasts. Thats how they get orgasm these days. Syiok sendiri.

  13. #14 by Noble House on Friday, 1 November 2013 - 4:02 am

    The moral fiber of our once great nation has deteriorated beyond recognition. No longer “all as one under the Malaysian sun,” it has become “everything for me.”

    The government of today is a disgraceful example of self serving politicians who care little for the welfare of the people and the nation at large. The greatest problem of all seems to be that they will not be held accountable. Leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses.

    Perhaps, this article will be an eye-opener to those who have missed it:


  14. #15 by boh-liao on Friday, 1 November 2013 - 2:18 pm

    Yes, he was certainly visionary – he saw how 2 manipulate d people n system by giving up his roots n claiming 2 b a Malay; how 2 con Malays into accepting him as d #1 of Umno; how 2 spend, spend, spend in secrecy (OSA, ISA) on mega projects dat enrich him, his family members, n kawan; how 2 make illegal immigrants in2 M’sians 2 sell out true Sabahans n M’sians; etc etc etc

    Sadly, there r still rakyat who blindly hero worship d guy who created tons of problems (past, present n future) 2 rakyat

  15. #16 by pulau_sibu on Sunday, 3 November 2013 - 2:33 am

    Cannot blame him because we do not have a more capble (or less stupid) person around as prime minister in UMNO. This is going to get worse if umno continues in power.

You must be logged in to post a comment.