Get it right this time, Tun M

Fa Abdul | February 23, 2015
Free Malaysia Today


Mahathir has so far been wrong in his choice of deputies and handpicked successors.

When I was eight, I used to utter bad words. “Basket” was my favourite, if you get what I mean. Mom would first warn me. And the second time, I’d have chilli paste all over my mouth.

I grew up learning that it is okay to make a mistake once. But when you repeat it, it is no longer a mistake.

However, some people tend to make mistakes over and over and over again, especially when they can get away with it.

This reminds me of Tun M. He first chose Musa Hitam as his deputy. It did not work out. He then chose the late Abdul Ghafar Baba. Also did not work out. And then, it was Anwar Ibrahim. But that ended tragically.

Frustrated and having to make a decision, he handpicked Pak Lah. Big mistake. Accusing him of betraying his trust, Tun M told Pak Lah to step down. However, this isn’t anything new in our political scene. Tunku at one point did express his regret over choosing Tun Abdul Razak. And Tun Hussein Onn also regretted his choice of Tun M as his successor. So Tun M regretting his choice of Pak Lah is completely understandable.

While the others were discreet about how they felt about their successor, Tun M, who is clearly not a respecter of cultural norms, did not. But then, no one expects Tun M to behave like the rest because he is clearly a man of his own standards.

With Pak Lah stepping down, Tun M did what none of his predecessors did. He once again stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and handpicked Pak Lah’s successor, Najib. Perhaps he did not think Pak Lah was capable of making that call. Or perhaps Pak Lah was too weak to even make that call. Whatever.

But surprise, surprise. Tun M made the wrong decision. Again.

Tun M was so right when he said, not too long ago: “Actually this is my fault. I am not good at choosing my own replacement.”

Thanks to Tun M and his mistakes, Malaysia has suffered and is continuing to suffer.

A local journalist once said, “This battleship is now a battered ship.” She was so right.

And whose fault is that? I shall refrain from answering that question but if you think it was Tun M, I won’t disagree with you.

Integrity and competence

As a man who took Malaysia from an agricultural country to a highly developed Asian megastar, picking a good reliable successor with integrity and competence should have been a piece of cake.

But sadly we ended up with two lousy prime ministers. One was too weak, and the other has a bad habit of making too many mistakes. Wow, looks like Najib has got something in common with Tun M after all.

Or perhaps there is no one in Umno who is fit to pick up from where the great Mahathir Mohamad left off.

But I think the fault in Pak Lah was that he was a yes man to people around him. And Najib seems to have the same problem.

Was Tun M overshadowed by Tunku or Hussein Onn or anyone else during his premiership? I don’t think so. He had total freedom to do whatever he wanted. He had an authoritarian style and in 22 years no one dared to challenge him.

But the prime ministers who took over Putrajaya after Tun M seem to have a thorny road ahead. Every single move they make is closely monitored and scrutinised. Who is capable to perform when they constantly have to deal with the headaches that come from being observed like a hamster running on its wheels?

So is it the prime minister’s fault for having no guts to stand up for himself or is it the ex-prime minister’s fault for plenty of them?

All our six Prime Ministers took a solemn oath to fulfill their obligations with honesty and strength, to be loyal to Malaysia and to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

Sadly, most of them failed.

Our current Prime Minister has failed miserably in navigating the ship. Our economy is flagging. Our society is racially divided. Our coalition parties are destroying themselves.

With Najib as the captain, the ship is now sinking. Well, obviously the people are not happy, but who cares about the people anyway. The important thing is that Tun M isn’t happy.

As the ship sinks, every Malaysian head is turning to Tun M, yearning to know who’s next. I wonder if Najib has the courage to pick his own successor, or he, like Pak Lah, is leaving it to Tun M to decide.

Whatever it is, the burden is once again on Tun M’s shoulder. Well, maybe not a burden, since Tun M seems to be enjoying the limelight.

So have you got your shortlist yet, Tun M? Or are you still cracking your head? Or maybe you wanna pick the “Malay first Malaysian next” dude standing right in front of your eyes, going “Me! Me! Me!”?

As a concerned citizen, I would like to offer my assistance by giving you some pointers. Don’t worry, I won’t splatter chilli paste over your mouth if you get it wrong again. The good news is that even if we are unclear as to who is the best guy for the position, thanks to all your mistakes to date, we certainly know who will be a total no-no.

1. The seventh Prime Minister should not be a puppet. He should have a mind of his own.

2. He shouldn’t be struggling with sickness which prevents him from carrying out his duties (eg sleep apnea).

3. He shouldn’t be queen controlled. A man who can’t lead his wife definitely can’t lead the nation.

4. He shouldn’t have had his back scratched by others in the past because then he would have to scratch too many backs when he is in power.

5. He shouldn’t make promises he is not willing to keep (too many to give examples).

6. He shouldn’t be stupid (like demanding gratitude for the price decrease of certain vegetables).

7. He shouldn’t be a hypocrite who stands up for racists (or hides from them).

8. He shouldn’t get his priorities wrong (like playing golf during critical times), or at least have some common sense to pretend the people always come first.

9. He shouldn’t be a wimp.

There you go, Tun M. Now please get it right this time.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Monday, 23 February 2015 - 10:50 am

    Look all down the line in UMNO, through UMNO Youth and there is no one. Mahathir gets it wrong because he made the choices that way..

  2. #2 by winstony on Monday, 23 February 2015 - 11:21 am

    Based on logic, the best choice for PM should come from the DAP.
    They have a large reservoir of capable, competent, people centric, conscientious leaders.
    For a post as important as the PM, the choice must not be restricted by race or religion.
    The most capable must lead.
    That’s the way forward to a great nation.

  3. #3 by kampong lad on Monday, 23 February 2015 - 12:47 pm

    don’t let him score a hattrick la. if in soccer, he’s still trailing by 1-2. the 2 goals not scored by the opponent but gol sendiri.

  4. #4 by Justice Ipsofacto on Monday, 23 February 2015 - 2:20 pm

    Look no further dr mamak. For you see the alphabet “N” really is the last. There will be no more from which you could pick to succeed “N”ajib – the person who now clearly stands right at the end of the RAHMA”N” line.

  5. #5 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Monday, 23 February 2015 - 2:51 pm

    /// took Malaysia from an agricultural country to a highly developed Asian megastar, ///

    Never seen such a hyperbole. Malaysia has never been developed, let alone highly developed. It is not even a shooting star (brief appearance and disappear forever), let alone a megastar. Come 2020, it will still not be a developed country. It was not even an Asian Tiger or Dragon.

    Other than that, I agree with the writer that Mahathir gets it wrong all the time. He will only think he gets it right if he himself gets the PM job a second time. Or the PM job goes to his son.

  6. #6 by good coolie on Tuesday, 24 February 2015 - 8:56 pm

    Why don’t we build a triple tower temporarily the tallest in the world? That will make us superior to Singapore and other young upstarts. We can also land the latest-model Proton in the North or South Pole by parachute to be doubly sure of escaping third-world status.

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