Malaysiakini : “A prime minister should not have to say ‘I got my legacy from Tun’.” - Dr Mahathir Mohamad (June 23, 2020)
COMMENT | Amanah strategic director Dzulkefly Ahmad’s public statement that Harapan was willing to offer
former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad a mentor minister or senior
minister role in the next government if the old maverick wanted to
collaborate with Pakatan Harapan in the next polls is the kind of
strategy which has landed Harapan in the mess it is in.
off, the idea of any kind of mentor or senior minister role is the kind
of “Asian values” bunkum propagated by aged paternalistic political
operatives around Asia who are intellectually and morally bankrupt, who
would rather rely on personality politics than substantive policies to
further their political agendas.
is right up there with “guided” democracies which is a shorthand for
fascist-leaning racialists and religionists who would rather attempt a
pantomime of democracy instead of the hard work of building independent
democratic institutions and credible elections.
In 2020, Mahathir,
when presented with this option, made his stance clear on the issue.
“No, I will not accept it,” he said in an interview with Sin Chew Daily.
said that based on his experience, no one would listen to his advice.
“Whenever I advise a prime minister (Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Najib Abdul
Razak or Muhyiddin Yassin), they never take my advice,” he had said.
other words, Mahathir would not accept this role (in 2020) because he
believed nobody would listen to him, least of all the prime minister of
the country and secondly, Mahathir correctly points out that a prime
minister should create a legacy of his own and not rely on anyone.
last part is, of course, problematic and indicative of the strongman
nonsense which finds favour in various voting demographics all over the
I have no idea why Harapan still chooses to placate the old
maverick. It is pointless listing down the damaging behaviour and
strategies he employed to destabilise Harapan when he was in power the
second time around.
And I am not even referring to the political
moves he made which led to the Sheraton Move. I am talking about the way
in which he destabilised Harapan by mocking the reform agenda and
policy initiatives which Harapan wanted to move on but were stymied by
the old maverick.
And let us be honest here. Harapan was bending
over backwards to sustain political narratives that the old maverick was
peddling. In public statements, Mahathir basically castrated former
finance minister Lim Guan Eng by claiming that he really did not have
much power and that everything had to go through him.
Mahathir let the cat out of the bag when he commented on giving more
to the Malay community at the expense of the Chinese community - "We
still have to give them, but what we gave to them was very small
(compared to what the Malays got). But we could not say it then, because
then the Chinese would be angry.”
Now it is easy to blame
Mahathir for all of this, but the reality is that Harapan political
operatives were enabling the old maverick and his coterie of Umno
rejects and when the manure hit the fan, they attempted to gaslight the
Harapan base that any failure was because of the deep state instead of
the fact that Harapan did not have the political will to go against the
let us not even get into the whole Anwar Ibrahim/Mahathir drama. Why
would Harapan want to subject the public to the animus these two men
have towards each other. Mahathir is on record as saying that Anwar is
not suitable to be prime minister for various ridiculous and I would
argue bigoted reasons.
So what Harapan would set up, is a senior
minister or mentor minister who thinks that the prime minister is not
qualified for the role.
Could you imagine the kind of political
drama we would witness if Harapan does manage to take Putrajaya? Every
day we would be fed a steady diet of the political machinations of these
two old men, squabbling behind the scenes while Harapan apparatchiks
would be telling everyone that nothing is rotten in the state of
The animosity between these two leaders is public
knowledge because Mahathir, from his public statements, has made it very
clear what he thinks of Anwar, what he thought of Harapan’s manifesto,
what he thought of cronyism, and what he thought of reforming the
Meanwhile, Anwar has taken all these insults, skulduggery
and political malfeasance thrown his way in his stride, while his
proxies wage a political war on his behest, which tore down a
legitimately elected - sans popular vote - government.
after survey has demonstrated that young people believe that their votes
do not matter. Both coalitions have made it their agendas to prove
young people right.
Young people have so much political power in
this country but as long as their apathy is enforced, the longer this
kakistocracy remains in place.
The fact that the Harapan political
elite is still forwarding this narrative only benefits the fractured
Malay uber alles coalition they are up against.
Keep in mind that
the old maverick does not want the political terrain to change. He
wants for everyone to still fight on this fetid political terrain
because his relevancy comes from the Malay uber alles politics he
nurtured for decades.
I get it is a cliché to say that the
definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again expecting
different results, but in this case, Harapan really needs to be put in a