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Mahathir Mohamad, the controversial man

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 13, 2009


All the apple polishing aside, the world will remember Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Malaysia’s most controversial man. With him helming Umno during the 1999 elections, Umno only won 71 Parliamentary seats, compared to March 08, 2008 elections when Umno won 79 parliamentary seats.

At the state level, Umno only won 176 seats that year compared to last year’s election, when Umno won 239 seats. It is obvious that Mahathir was the cause why Umno had lost the support of the Malays since 1999. Yet in a recent interview with international media, he was thick skinned enough to claim credit for Pak Lah’s thumping success during the 2004 elections.

If anything, Mahathir is to be blamed for BN’s failure to garner support from both the Malay and non-Malay voters. His spate of venom has caused people to lose faith in him, as well as in the BN. It was during recent times when a lot of the younger generation of Malaysians, including myself, started making stand. Enough is enough.

For 51 years, Umno and BN have led the country. Corruption has penetrated every level of the government machinery and Mahathir is also not spared of international criticism for being Mr Ten Percent. We decided it is time for a change.

Yet, Mahathir could turn the tables around and accuse others of being corrupted. As the proverbial saying goes, one finger pointing to others, four other fingers are pointing back. We have seen enough of such nonsense in the past three years. He is such a controversial figure because he himself suffers from a low self-esteem.

Son of an Indian man by the name of Iskandar Kutty who married a local Malay woman, Mahathir is technically what is known as a mamak or an Indian Muslim. However, never once has Mahathir claimed his roots to be from Kerala, India. To the Malays, this is synonymous to kacang lupakan kulit.

As far as the Indian Muslims in this country are concerned, he has completely dissociated himself from his own community. It is as good as saying that they should not keep their identity or culture as Indian Muslims, but consider themselves ethnic Malays.

We have on the one hand, Dr Chandra Muzaffar who is also proudly an Indian Muslim while never once did Mahathir talk publicly about his father being truly Indian. Why did  Mahathir choose to erase his true identity? Is it because he is ashamed of his family background being the son of an Indian immigrant? Or, is it because he feels that it is expedient for him to identify himself as a Melayu tulen in order to gain for himself the political mileage which he has enjoyed for over two decades?

Whichever is the case, the leopard can never lose its spots. Mahathir has removed three deputy premiers in 22 years. First, it was Musa Hitam, followed by Ghafar Baba and finally Anwar Ibrahim. Musa and Ghafar were Umno loyalists all the way whereas Mahathir resigned, criticised and condemned Umno when it was expedient for him to do so.

His grudge against his own successor, Pak Lah, and the latter’sis son-in-law, Khairy, caused Mahathir to continue spewing out venom for the past three years. On the one hand, he was supposed to have reconciled with his successor during the Umno annual general meeting; the next moment, he stabbed him further. This is a betrayal of friendship.

The country will still remember that it was Mahathir who removed immunity from the royal families, which was enshrined in the constitution. Umno and the whole BN machinery was backing him all the way through.

Forget about Karpal Singh, wasn’t this act by Mahathir derhaka? Any young person who watched this whole event unfolde, having thought through it all, would eventually come to his senses that this is derhaka in its worse form.

Whereas the British did it as colonial masters, Mahathir, an ordinary rakyat, turned the whole country against the royalty and stripped them of the immunity which was once accorded to them.

Our Malay brothers, I am sure, would recall the days when Mahathir openly criticised them, saying Melayu mudah lupa. Yet, he could not remember a thing when asked by the royal commission which probed into the VK. Lingam controversial tape.

The ‘champion’ of the Malays in his later days was hurting the feelings of the Malays themselves. This is probably the reason why a lot of young Malay voters swung their votes towards Pakatan Rakyat, because they realised what their parents failed to see under the leadership of the premier of 22 years.

When Mahathir was premier of the country, Malaysia suffered badly in its international relations with countries like Singapore, Australia and the US. Former Australian premier, Bob Hawke called him ‘recalcitrant’ and US vice-president, Al Gore walked out on him during one meeting. Malaysia cannot, and should not continue to be arrogant as Mahathir, because both Singapore and the US are our major traders.

The moment Mahathir stepped down, relations with these countries resumed and flourished under Pak Lah.

My goodness, if we were to continue with our analysis of this man and all the controversies that he represents, I am sure a whole book can be written about him – about the amount of money lavished on mega-projects and the highway and electricity concessions that were negotiated during his time.

I don’t know what went wrong in the negotiations, but revelations by people like former TNB CEO,  Ani Arope show that the concession agreements were lopsided.

It is enough that this letter should serve as an eye-opener for the country. In the past, there are people who would lick his toes but today, Malaysia without Mahathirism would be better equipped to face the impact of globalisation.

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