“Mahathir and Anwar are changed men, don’t expect a repeat of 1998, says Kit Siang” – TMI

The Malaysian Insight | Interview 2|10.6.2018

BOTH men are ambitious and both carry scars of past battles.

Both are surrounded by impatient and suspicious supporters.

The last time one of them was the prime minister and the other the prime minister-in-waiting, it ended in the nastiest scrap in Malaysian political history.

Critics believe it will just be a matter of time before Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim clash again, a development that will send the new government into a tailspin and the country into a period of tumult.

Lim Kit Siang has heard the chatter but he is betting on a different outcome this time.

The DAP veteran said both men and other senior leaders within PH are changed individuals and the coalition is more stable than it appears.

Time and the circumstances of the country in the years leading up to the historic 14th general election have changed both Mahathir and Anwar, said Lim.

‘I think we have all changed. Mahathir, Anwar and all the leading players in Pakatan Harapan have learnt the lessons of life to be better persons and to be more sensitive, more sensible and better Malaysian leaders, ” he told The Malaysian Insight.

Twenty years ago Anwar and Dr Mahathir were staunch rivals in Umno and despite the former being the latter’s deputy, it was an open secret that both were attempting to undermine each other within the party itself.

This rivalry reached its peak when Anwar was sacked from government, Umno and his subsequent imprisonment sparked the reformasi movement in 1998.

Less than two decades later, Mahathir and Anwar would reconcile and unite with other PH leaders to take down Najib Razak and Barisan Nasional.

“I believe Mahathir of today is very different from Mahathir who was Prime Minister of Malaysia for 22 years from 1981- 2003,” Lim said in an interview with The Malaysian Insight.

Below are excerpts from the interview:

TMI: What surprised you about GE14?

Lim: I had not really expected Pakatan Harapan to win the federal government and eight state governments – retaining not only Penang and Selangor, but winning Kedah, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Malacca, Johor and Sabah together with (Parti) Warisan Sabah.

There was a possibility of political change in GE14 so long as two conditions were met: firstly, retaining or even exceeding the voter turnout and support in the urban and semi-urban areas to ensure the repetition of the urban and semi-urban political tsunami in the 2008 and 2013 general elections; and secondly, creating a rural tsunami or Malay tsunami.

Although Najib’s denial syndrome persisted until the very end of the election campaign in denying that there was a Malay tsunami, there was clearly a wave of awakening for political change among the Malay voters the rural areas, but I was not sure how strong was this wave on polling day.

TMI: Name one defining moment of GE14.

Lim: There was no one defining “Eureka” moment, as the question bugging everyone who gathered at the Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya on Polling Night was whether there was a hung Parliament or whether Pakatan Harapan had won a simple majority of at least 112 parliamentary seats.

Ambiga Sreenivasan, who with many other NGO leaders who had gravitated to Sheraton Hotel, asked why Mahathir could not announce that Pakatan Harapan had won. But I told her that Pakatan Harapan leaders ourselves must be sure that we have passed the magic figure of more than 112 seats.

“Who expected Pakatan Harapan to win the 14th General Elections? Everyone, the mainstream pollsters and political analysts, expected UMNO-Barisan Nasional to win hands down.

In fact, Najib Razak had no doubt that he would not only win, but even to regain the two-thirds parliamentary majority which UMNO-BN had lost in two previous general elections.

In retrospect, it is clear that Najib had not made any plans for a getaway because he was living in a bubble of his own, and that of his highly-paid strategists and advisers.

TMI: You have worked with Dr Mahathir for the past three years. Has he changed and is Malaysia in good hands?

Lim: I believe Mahathir of today is very different from Mahathir who was Prime Minister of Malaysia for 22 years from 1981- 2003. He has transformed from a hegemon to a consensus-builder.

I believe that Malaysia is in good hands under Mahathir and Pakatan Harapan. Now we have a second chance to achieve a New Malaysia where we can become a showcase to the world as a successful, united, progressive and prosperous Malaysia of diverse races, religions, languages and cultures instead of hurtling towards becoming a failed, rogue and kleptocratic state. – June 10, 2018.

  1. #1 by gofortruth on Sunday, 10 June 2018 - 11:13 am

    Bravo Harapan!!!

  2. #2 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 10 June 2018 - 12:45 pm

    “I had not really expected Pakatan Harapan to win” – LKS. BN was a gigantic behemoth. Its loss of power & implosion were not immediately expected. PH could however realise that hope on 9th May, improbable as it was. So did Malaysia which suddenly and unimaginably had a peaceful change to a new Malaysia with chance to start afresh as beacon of democracy for the region and beyond. Such improbable event was due to combination of variables accidentally intersecting such that other neighbors neither experience nor could plan.

  3. #3 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 10 June 2018 - 12:45 pm

    The first variable is outrage at the sheer unprecedented scale of corruption and abuse of power disseminated through the ubiquity of social media. The second is a past PM no. 1 undefeated -notwithstanding allegations of his abuse of power and dictatorship- who now leads the change as PM no.2 to prevent further abuse of power and dictatorship. He is trite that it is the master of abuse of power and dictatorship who will know exactly how to put down another doing the same even if he’s his protégé and thereafter institute all reforms necessary to prevent future abuse of powers by those who come after. He simply knows all the tricks and where to plug the very holes that he himself had exploited in the past. As they say it takes a thief to catch a thief – provided that the first one faced with mortality has a genuine change of heart to seek redemption and do right.

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 10 June 2018 - 12:45 pm

    Our neighbors cannot have hope to successfully catch the thieves because they use the usual policeman and have never thought of appointing a thief to catch these thieves, so to speak. Our good fortune is that we have an accidental intersection of these 2 improbable variables to foster this hope of making this nation a beacon of better governance than the rest.

  5. #5 by SuperStringhg on Sunday, 10 June 2018 - 1:41 pm

    Mr. Lim Kit Siang is right to say “‘I think we have all changed. Mahathir, Anwar and all the leading players in Pakatan Harapan have learnt the lessons of life to be better persons and to be more sensitive, more sensible and better Malaysian leaders, ” he told The Malaysian Insight”. Unquote. With the present leaders, the country will be good for say 10 to 15 years, what then? The BN Kleptomaniac Regime has shown clearly all the institutions, however good, can be subverted eventually if just a few “BaD” men/women are running the show. Hence to ensure Malaysia can continue to have good governance into the future, the ONLY solution is to ensure ONLY GOOD men and women are chosen, but How? This PH govt will have to work out a system that able to induct men/women who are honest, capable and committed be selected. This process must start NOW with the present leaders! The Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) committee is a good place to think about it.

  6. #6 by Bigjoe on Monday, 11 June 2018 - 9:13 am

    I will say it again, there is no need for them to clash. Mahathir and the Reform team he created will see to the pragmatic details of development even material well being of the people. Mahathir is even attempting to change the performance culture of the people.

    Anwar has a different mountain to climb, one only he can try – that of intellectual Islam in this country and on the world stage. Anwar need to lead Islam in this country and the world. That is his challenge and destiny and he, better than any other Islamic leader is more equped to do it. Not only is he highly knowledgeable and has gift of oratory, he has spiritual-brotherhood with leaders of the most populous Muslim country in the world – those leaders want the same things we want, what Anwar want – AND they are also equiped to step up to the plate.

    Yes, its time for Malaysia to dream – really really big..

  7. #7 by good coolie on Monday, 11 June 2018 - 5:02 pm

    Well said! But I will believe that Anwar and Mahatir have changed when my index finger is fully clear of our truly indelible ink. “A little while longer…”

    By the way, when is our football team going to be Asian beaters? Get some tall and tough fellows as full backs. Then get some swift scorers (doesn’t matter if they are tall or short (remember Mokhtar?). We want overall robustness, and true tigers. Think out of the penalty box, you slow coaches!

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