Malaysiakini : COMMENT | “If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?”
― Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men
Last month I asked if Dr Mahathir Mohamad should serve a full term. The thrust of my piece
was that it would legitimises Anwar's ascension if Mahathir served a
full term and the prime minister-in-waiting to lead an election on his
own instead of relying on vague promises of a handover. This would
silence critics who claim that Anwar was handed everything on a silver
platter and did not have to "fight" for anything.
everyone should be contemplating: isn't it time to move beyond Mahathir
and Anwar when it comes to the leadership of this country? It is almost
impossible now because both men have stamped their imprimatur on various
acolytes, but there is always the hope that recent political upheavals
would result in a cadre of leaders not beholden to the current toxic
political duo who are still scheming to lead this country when their
time is clearly up.
I would take any of the young leaders within
Harapan to lead the country, no matter which camp they belonged to,
instead of these two old politicians whose shenanigans are holding this
country hostage. If I was not constrained by the realpolitik
of the situation, I would include dozens of non-Malays on the list. The
reality is that Harapan Malay politicians would never support a
non-Malay candidate, and non-Malay politicians would never dare to
attempt to claim the highest office in the land.
It is the same
with the opposition, such as it is. I would rather young leaders –
Khairy Jamaluddin is an obvious and mainstream figure – but also someone
like Umno Youth chief Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki and the numerous other
rabble-rousers in Umno, instead of the dreary nonsense coming from the
old guard of the Umno crippled giant.
Umno is going to disband and form a new entity, I would hope it is the
young Turks who are leading it instead of the craggy visages that are
hung up on trying to play Mahathir’s game. Even the recent sex
scandal is merely a replay of an older stratagem. Nobody is concerned,
even in dirty politics, to come up with something new. It has got this
One politician told me, that if Mahathir goes, Najib could go
free. Really? Does anyone actually believe this? So the only thing
keeping Najib in line is the old maverick? Do people realise how
ridiculous this kind of thinking is? No matter what Mahathir
does, if he goes, and he will eventually go, the reality is that Najib
will always remain in play unless Harapan has the backing of the
majority of Malaysians, which it currently does not have.
used to the fact that Najib is going to outlast the old maverick. It
all depends if Mahathir can make Umno irrelevant, which is probably
going to be the old maverick's legacy.
get me started on PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang. I would take a virulent
youth-powered Islamic party over the ramblings of Hadi and his sly interactions with the old maverick.
you read the Islamic blogosphere, you would understand there are many
young leaders in PAS who understand that for the time being there needs
to be a middle ground when it comes to relying on non-Malay support, but
who are drowned out by the old games of Hadi and Co. Malaysiakini columnist Bridget Welsh ends her excellent piece on PAS highlighting the waiting game when it comes to the influence of younger party members. Isn't
anyone else tired of the Mahathir/Anwar saga? When people say that
Mahathir or Anwar has the “experience“ to lead this country, do they
know what they are saying? We are in this mess because of these men.
that Mahathir wants to correct his mistakes seems idealistic. Why would
he? His does not think his mistakes are institutional, because if he
did he would have no problem correcting them. Mahathir has never had a
problem with power by fiat. He gives people examples of this nearly
No, his problem has always been succession. He
has said this. He picks the wrong people. All this started because he
wanted to overthrow Najib Abdul Razak. Mukhriz Mahathir said so in
(2017) his defamation case against Najib’s press secretary, since
settled: "Mukhriz was replying to a question by Sarifuddin Tengku
Ahmad's lawyer, Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos, on whether he agreed with
his suggestion that the former premier had attempted to topple Najib
from 2015. "The former Kedah menteri besar agreed with the suggestion, but added that the plan likely began in 2014.“
say vague promises, because there is nothing concrete that reinforces
the idea of succession beyond the sniping that goes on between the
Mahathir and Anwar camps. The more this mess gets played out in the
press, the more likely it is that whatever semblance of coherency that
Harapan has, goes down the proverbial crapper, empowering the far-right
forces in this country.
I believe that of all the candidates, PKR
leader Anwar Ibrahim has a legitimate claim to the throne of Putrajaya.
While I still think this, as the days go by, it is becoming increasingly
clear that the sooner Malaysians get over this fixation on Mahathir and
Anwar, for better or worse, we can decide the future of this country
through democratic means, instead of the political skullduggery that
passes as democratic norms in this country.
I am exasperated but
mostly bored of the Mahathir and Anwar show. The former has proven that
his autocratic style of leadership is infectious when it comes to the
non-Malay component in Harapan. The same excuses that the MCA and MIC
and all the other satellite parties that orbited Umno during the old
maverick's heyday are now used by the DAP and Amanah.
the factional politics within PKR have taken a turn for the worse and
this recent sex scandal has demonstrated that PKR is a compromised
party, which is more damaging to Harapan than the manoeuvres of the far
right and the deep Islamic state. Anwar cannot seem to get a grasp
of the situation, where minions from his camp run riot and the Malay
political establishment is gleefully licking their chops at how inept
the prime minister-in-waiting is when it comes to maintaining party
While this is not solely Anwar’s fault, the
reality is that PKR has been slipping away from Anwar for some time now,
and there are many who think that leadership in this country should
break free from the Mahathir/Anwar dynamic, even if they would use
either to further their agendas.
Mahathir claims that he needs three years
or thereabouts for corrective work on the country. Whether you believe
this or not is not the point. This is personality politics and as long
as Mahathir has the support of his coalition, there is nothing Anwar can
do about it.
Public comments from Anwar is that the old
maverick needs the “space” to do his magic. What this country needs is
space from these two leaders. The sooner Malaysians get over the toxic
contributions of these two, the better to chart the uncertain future of