Mahathir Can’t Escape Blame For Malaise In M’sian Politics

Mahathir Mohamad. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg
Mahathir Mohamad. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Mahathir’s ‘failure’ to honour ‘Agreement with Anwar’ bedevils M’sia – Part 1

It’s not rocket science why Malaysia’s politics and government continue to be in free fall even as it’s plagued by appalling ignorance on the pandemic which has prevented the return of public confidence and economic recovery.

The “Sheraton Move” in late Feb 2020 remains the proverbial fig leaf used by Mahathir Mohamad to escape public scrutiny on a litany of sins . . . deviation, distortion, duplicity, deception, moral depravity, degeneration and acting with impunity.

This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list on Mahathir’s sins of commission and ommission.

It was first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman who predicted after the 13 May 1969 public “disturbances” in Kuala Lumpur, that “one man alone – Mahathir – will destroy this nation”.

Haunted Future

His words have preoccupied Malaysians to this day. They continue to be posted in the social media regularly, even as late as last week. The past has caught up with Malaysians in the present to haunt their future which is up for grabs.

Mahathir has been noted for incredible discipline, iron will, and great energy, all very known traditionally unMalay characteristics. He’s about Machiavellian politics where the ends justifies the means. He has always helped a small group of Malay capitalists — allegedly behind May 13 — to accumulate capital to keep up with Others who have money.

Siti Hasmah, Mahathir’s wife who also has Kaka (Malayalee Muslim) roots like him, has publicly disclosed that the husband doesn’t tell her anything. So, unlike in the case of other political wives, no one flocks around her. Siti Hasmah, who got married in a saree as pictures in the social media show, was Mahathir’s university mate in Medical College in Singapore.

Today if a Malay lady wears a saree on her wedding occasion no one would bat eyelid<br>But back then Siti Hasmah wearing one on her wedding day was quite the talk of town<br>or the kampung Twitter pic

Strong Leader

Even so, in a contradiction in terms, Mahathir as a strong leader has vowed “no surrender, no compromises, win or lose, do or die”. This is politics straight out of drama-driven Kerala in southwest India and perhaps other places as well. Let’s not go there since Mahathir told the media, in a politically expedient and convenient bout of amnesia not so long ago, that he has only spoonfuls of blood (Indian) and “I don’t know from which part of India my people came. Otherwise, I am Malay.”

He was answering a reporter who asked him why he was quarrelling with India (over Kashmir) when he was of Indian origin.

Under the Definition in Article 160(2) Malay is a form of identity, governed by Merdeka, in Singapore and Malaya. There can be no race in the Constitution.

Publisher and writer J. V. Morais, famed for the annual “Who’s Who in Malaysia” report, included Mahathir’s family tree in “Profile in Courage”, an authorised biography. Morais is my uncle.

When Mahathir, then 94, abruptly resigned as the world’s oldest Prime Minister on Mon, 24 Feb 2020, it was clear that he had no intention whatsoever to allow PKR Chief Anwar Ibrahim, Tamil Hindu Brahmin from the paternal grandfather’s side, elected Port Dickson MP on Sat, 13 Oct 2018, to succeed him.

We don’t know why.

The speculation on Mahathir’s reasons on Anwar may has arisen from the latter’s fiery outburst in public, before a full assembly of local and foreign media in 1998, that Mahathir and Family should be dragged to justice. Mahathir, it’s said, continues to be haunted by Anwar’s fiery outburst over two decades ago. He, being hardcore and incorrigible, may fear more for the Family than himself.

Family & Then Some

Mahathir’s Family, based on holdings in publicly listed companies alone, are all multi-billionaires. The issue dominates the social media. This may be unprecedented in world history but somehow kept out of the Guinness Book of World Records.

It can’t be denied that jealousy drives Malay politics. Malay leaders go publicly for each others’ throats whenever the economy heads south and the cake isn’t large enough to share.

Mahathir’s suspicions about Anwar may have been further fuelled when the latter, traditionally close to PAS, formed Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in 2003. It had only one main publicly declared objective: stop Mahathir, acting with impunity, from getting away with anything.

Mahathir saw the writing on the wall and publicly resigned as Prime Minister, shedding “crocodile” tears. It was a long goodbye. He was down but not out for too long.

On Mon 29 Feb 2016, Mahathir quit Umno in protest against “corruption” — read Najib Abdul Razak as Prime Minister — and defected to the Opposition before GE14 on Thurs 10 May 2018.

Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, in warning the people on Mahathir’s defection, asked the media whether they had seen a leopard change its spots.


Razaleigh was allegedly robbed of the Umno Presidency and the prime ministership in 1987.

Judge Harun Hashim, hailing from Kerala roots like Mahathir, declared Umno unlawful over the discovery of 30 “illegal” pro-Mahathir branches, after party elections.

If the judge had discounted the votes from the illegal branches, based on the spirit of the law, Razaleigh would have won fair and square. His victory can be perfected in law.

In Brunei for a visit, before the Umno polls, Mahathir thundered defiantly that he would stay even if he won by “one” vote. Judge Harun may have belaboured in the delusion that the letter of the law, by itself, could be passed off as the sum total of the rule of law.

If there was Appeal, on paper the tables could have been turned. However, Mahathir had allegedly packed the judiciary with pliant judges.

In law, no election is free of fraud.

Necessary Digression

What matters in court is whether the extent of fraud affected outcome. Trump’s take on US 2020, for example, remains based firmly on the “mathematical impossibility” — Biden’s unprecedented 81m votes — and the lack of electoral integrity under the guise of the pandemic. It was about “Big Steal”, not “Big Lie” as CNN reports.

Razaleigh has been reported as saying in the media not so long ago, that he wants to revive the “Old Umno”. The present Umno — Umno Baru (New Umno) — was formed by Mahathir, he pointed out.

All this has been necessary disgression to help keep matters of public concern and public interest in perspective. The dots can be connected on the political chaos that continues to reign in Malaysia.

Umno made a grave strategic error by supporting the “backdoor” Muhyiddin Yassin government on Sun, 1 Mar 2020. It had no legitimacy. In fact, Muhyiddin was sacked from the Federal Cabinet and Umno on Fri, 24 June 2016 for allegedly being party to “illegalities” — read code word 1MDB — but that won’t be an issue again unless there’s a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the media coverage on both 1MDB and the Najib Administration from 2009 to 2018 as well. – New Malaysia Herald

Read part 2 tomorrow when UMNO realised too late that they should have listened to Najib Razak!

About the writerLongtime Borneo watcher Joe Fernandez keeps a keen eye on Malaysia as a legal scholar (jurist). He was formerly Chief Editor of Sabah Times. He’s not to be mistaken for a namesake previously with Daily Express. References to his blog articles can be found here.

The points expressed in this article are that of the writer’s, and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the New Malaysia Herald.

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