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Do Mahathir A Favour: Ignore Him

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 5, 2009


By Tunku Abdul Aziz
in MySinChew

UMNO succeeded brilliantly in putting on a well-orchestrated monologue carnival on the universally fashionable twin-theme of change and reform at their just concluded annual political jamboree. They succeeded in the event of mesmerising themselves into a frenzy. Talking change is easy, but “walking the change” is when the uncommitted falls by the wayside.

By all accounts, UMNO, of all political parties in Malaysia, is a most unlikely candidate for change. It is stuck in a time warp. Its leadership, never known for its ability to focus on critical national issues and respond quickly to the needs of the moment, more often than not, has absolutely no clue where to begin the process.

Blaming the opposition for things that do not go according to plan is well and good, but it would be more helpful and constructive for UMNO to accept and digest a simple fact of life which stipulates that the external pressures acting on you are only as influential as your internal weaknesses. UMNO’s internal weaknesses are there for all to see, but it says a great deal about its organisational culture that the leaders remain both deaf and blind to the rot that stares them in the face. This being the case, UMNO continues to stumble from crisis to crisis, quite unaware why even the Malays who should be rallying round to support it are instead turning their backs on it.

UMNO is not ready to move forward. More baffling is why its leaders are making overtures to Mahathir to return and even act as “adviser.” It somehow suggests complete arrogance, totally muddled thinking and a disdain for Malaysian public opinion on their part. It is, I am convinced, a pathological streak that is part of the UMNO political tradition. We have had enough of Mahathir’s brand of “good governance” for twenty-two agonising, heart-rending, years that saw “Grand Corruption”, ( first coined by George Moody-Stuart and used as the title of his famous book on international corruption) being institutionalised in every important facet of our national life. By any yardstick, Mahathir’s tenure was twenty-two years too long. We need Mahathir as we need a tail between our legs.

For UMNO in particular, any attempt at open reconciliation with Mahathir, the ‘megalomeddler’, (a new word I have just invented to add further to the richness of English) will be the kiss of death. If, in the intoxicating afterglow of their 59th general assembly UMNO leaders were disposed to be generous towards Mahathir, and forgive him all his transgressions and sins against society, they need to have their heads examined.

Based on what we know about the man, Mahathir is happiest when he is also at his mischievous best. If there is no crisis, Mahathir will see to it that one is invented. He survived 22 years in office by playing on, and manipulating shamelessly, our fears of a recurrence of the May 13 incident which nearly tore this nation apart in 1969. It is a card that some UMNO types at good at pulling out of their pack when they feel threatened by challenges to “ketuanan Melayu.”

It is not in the man’s mental make up to give, as we have seen in his unremitting hostility to Abdullah Badawi, his anointed successor, a sporting chance to make a mark as prime minister. But, then, Mahathir was not a sportsman in the mould of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein or even Tun Hussein Onn. One of the central dogmas of Mahathirism and one espoused by the great man with unbounded passion is “winner takes all.”

He did not believe in taking prisoners. The battle field of his choice was the judicial arena where he held sway, and where crouching judges were falling over each other in an embarrassingly sycophantic display of eternal gratitude to their benefactor and where witnesses were “turned” at will to coerce them to cooperate. In one fell swoop, one of the most respected judicial institutions in the Commonwealth became an object of fun, ridicule and derision.

His maniacal urge to dominate everything and everyone in sight is a serious character flaw. To think that he will ever be a moderating influence and, therefore, an asset in the much-needed reinvention of UMNO to be in readiness for the 13th general elections is to believe in Grimm’s Fairy Tales of my childhood.

The nation is well-rid of the man. In God’s name, let him go his own meddling way and we, our own, free to determine our lives in accordance with the Constitution and the dictates of our conscience.

Admitting Mahathir back into UMNO’s inner sanctum will add to its problems, and internal unity will forever remain a gleam in the eye, and it will hasten the demise of UMNO, now already on its last legs. Perhaps I should just say nothing and let UMNO leaders find out for themselves the joy of having Mahathir under the same roof.

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