Oops! Mahathir did it again

Steve Oh

3 Jan 2020, 8:01 am

Updated a year ago


COMMENT | Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is true to form and has done it again. Another blunder, another ouster.

His penchant for picking the wrong people into his cabinet is seen with the departure of unpopular Education Minister Maszlee Malik.

Why put the wrong people in their jobs in the first place?

If companies do that with crucial key posts they will go bankrupt. Maszlee trumpets his minor achievements but flunks in the majors which counts.

The public angst against Mahathir when he was the BN leader appears to have resurfaced.

These days many of those who once supported him no longer see him as the catalyst of change but a spoiler, an obstacle to Harapan's hopes.

It makes me sad because like many others I had banked on him to be a better leader, a reformer, and not a repeat of his former self in power.

According to Malaysiakini's poll on the performance of the 28 member cabinet, only ten scored a rating above 50. Mahathir himself was rated poorly at 26 percent and Maszlee a measly 16 percent.

What Malaysia needs now, is a good, inspiring, relevant, honest and capable leader, not just a cunning politician.

Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew was such a man. "I did not enter politics but politics entered me,'' was one of his revelations in his biography.

By this, he meant he entered politics with a determined purpose after having felt insulted by the British during his university days in the United Kingdom. He was a man with a mission.

He was not distracted by pie-in-the-sky ideas.

His aim, even while Singapore was part of Malaysia, was to create a nation for all the races, where citizenship meant equality, but his ideas offended the ethnocentric detractors.

How did Lee get it so right while Malaysia floundered from one leader to another?

Lee, in his intellect, was far ahead of those still bogged in ethnic parochialism, especially with his "Malaysian Malaysia" concept.

A Malaysia for Malaysians is the only solution, and Mahathir himself mooted the concept of a "Bangsa Malaysia".

The "ketuanan" (racial supremacy) notion in a nation of historical racial diversity is oxymoron, unworkable and divides the nation.

The king calls for unity. So do previous leaders of the country, and even sultans, advocate national unity, but how do you get real unity when citizens are forced to be unequally yoked?

And a leader like Mahathir, disappointingly, adds fuel to the fire by supporting events such as the Malay Dignity Congress and Muslim Summit that skew toward one race.

And when Dong Zong speaks out and wanted to hold an event on matters of concern, it was met with threats and calls for its demise. It is always about double-standards.

What is wrong with listening to one another instead of trying to clam others up after you have spoken.

You cannot have unity when such wanton hate and racism exists, fanned by Dr Jerkyll and Mr Hyde leaders.

Lee became even more resolved to build up his island state after Singapore was kicked out of Malaysia in 1965.

Did he take revenge on the Malays who caused his ouster?

No. Instead he planned for them, he catered to them and cared for them in a Singapore dominated by the Chinese. He even made a Malay president.

Did we hear any Singaporean NGO push the "ketuanan Cina" (Chinese supremacy) cart? Lee would have put the troublemakers in jail.

Lee felt that national interest which includes everyone was more important than sectarian jingoism.

The sad irony for the late Tunku Abdul Rahman was Lee did not do him in politically, as he feared, but one of his own kind did.

Those who think only those of their race can help them are wrong and deceived.

The history of corruption besetting Malay politicians and their constant infighting is proof enough.

After all who made Anwar Ibrahim's life hell in jail? Who made the Azmin Ali sex video?

Lee had the passion, the personality and the people (incidentally several Singaporean pioneering ministers were from Malaysia ) to make Singapore a success story. Lee had a big vision and a big heart for nation-building and practised what he preached.

Many of us would love nothing more than to see Malaysia be another success story, not a "bully state" or pseudo-democracy or worse, a "failed state".

One bungling leader after another is more than any citizen deserves.

If you cannot share political power beyond "tokenism" how can you share prosperity? Anyway, what is shared prosperity but another dangling political carrot? Vision 2020 has turned out to be a mirage.

Once a Malaysian, always a Malaysian, at least in the social sense, for many of us living abroad. After all, Malaysia is still worth saving from the devil we know. There is no country like Malaysia although it is fast losing its uniqueness.

It is a tragedy to see the country ruined by the wrong leaders who have betrayed the nation, their race and religion. It is time to see real change.

Malaysia, the original cosmopolitan country, desperately needs a leader, not necessarily a man, who loves the diverse races of Malaysia and genuinely wants to work for and ensure their welfare.

You have to do away with institutional racism as in Western countries which have criminalised racist and other discriminatory conduct.

Australia has long abandoned its ketuanan "White Australia" policy and has migrants from more than 200 nations living harmoniously together.

I would have thought that the education minister and his boss would have more foresight in focusing on teaching schoolchildren not to be racist.

Instead, they did the opposite and divided the community by pushing for the teaching of non-essential subjects like khat and Jawi.

It is bewildering to see Islam and the ketuanan ideology pushed together in the same cart when they are incompatible.

You put the nation first by putting the welfare of the poor, the business people, the schooling of children, the employment of youth and graduates, the retirement needs of the seniors and so on first - regardless of race.

You get to grips with the fundamentals that matter.

You don't go gallivanting on your hobbyhorse. Or harp on race and religion and wake up and wonder why there is disunity.

Even within a family, if parents play favourites they create disharmony. How much more when leaders play favourites and pit one race against another.

Let's hope the new education minister will not be a dud.

Education is to equip children to learn basic subjects that will prepare them for future employment. How does learning khat and Jawi even help in today's competitive job market?

Indonesia has a humble and all-encompassing country leader. Not surprisingly, Indonesia in 2050 will be in the top 10 economies in the world in a Price Waterhouse report.

There is an emergent echelon of leaders in Malaysia who fit the criteria of sound, desirable, fair-minded and capable leaders.

They come from all races and are the sort of leaders Malaysia needs.

They speak the language of the country's Constitution, of fairness and nationhood.

Put them in power and remove the monkey off Malaysia's back.

As I have written before, the job of the country's leader is onerous, demanding and it is cruel to keep Mahathir on because of his age.

His final years should not be wasted on partisan politics and becoming the most hated man in the country as once before.

Mahathir's role as "man of the hour" for deposing former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak will not be forgotten. But he will not do himself and his country any good if he overstays at Putrajaya.

It is understandable for Mahathir to say he is not happy with the performance of some members of his cabinet. He is not alone going by Malaysiakini's poll.

Mahathir has not performed to the people's expectations of himself and the euphoria that was felt after GE14 will see a repeat when Mahathir resigns and hands over the reins of power to a younger and more relevant leader.

Mahathir may love his job but can the country afford to keep him? Many see him as the monkey on the country's back because of his consistent blunders and reneging of Harapan pledges.

Time is running out for Mahathir to reinvent himself and play a different role in serving his nation but definitely not as the country's leader.

A new Malaysia begins with a new leader - a real leader for all, a leader consistent in word and deed.

STEVE OH is an author and composer of the novel and musical Tiger King of the Golden Jungle. He believes good governance and an engaging civil society are paramount to Malaysia being a unique and successful nation.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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