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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

My Photo
Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Spare Malaysians Your Apology- Just Get Out!

Spare Malaysians The Apology – Just Get Out!

M. Bakri Musa (www.bakrimusa.com)

[News item:  On Wednesday, February 26, 2020, Prime Minister Mahathir appeared in a nationally-televised address apologizing to Malaysians for having triggered an unneeded and very divisive political crisis days before. He had earlier remained uncharacteristically silent. Then after his sudden unexpected resignation, he quickly accepted the position as “Interim Prime Minister.”]

That television address was vintage Mahathir. There he was blaming everyone but himself for the political crisis. He was no hero, hiding in his house and skipping his office.

Spare Malaysians the apology. Quit the half-assed resignation charade. Just get out!

If Mahathir could lecture the leader of the Free World to resign, so too could I to this divisive and polarizing Third World autocrat who has long overstayed his welcome.

The chaos Mahathir inflicted upon and distrust he sowed among Malaysians through his latest conniving will remain long after he is gone, forever blighting the nation. By contrast, the burden imposed by his predecessor Najib Razak, though humongous monetary-wise, was at least quantifiable. And Najib would pay the prize by going to jail. There is no price tag to this latest Mahathir’s folly. Nor would any punishment be adequate. Besides, the man knows no shame.

This is the ugly reality of Mahathir and his Vision 2020. Instead of a leap into the First World, he has plunged Malaysia into the typical Third World political chaos and the usual third-rate power brawl.

Imagine seeing lawmakers trotting to the palace for their two-minute “interview” with the Agung! If not for their misplaced joyful expressions, they resembled faithful Catholics lining up for their Sunday confessionals, what with their fancy formal attire. I was reminded of my school days when our entire class was summoned one by one to the principal’s office because no one had owned up to writing on the blackboard the insulting messages to our teacher. At least we had the excuse that we were kids then; these MPs are adults, and getting paid by taxpayers.

While Mahathir indulges his fanciful savior delusion, billions have evaporated from KLSE, and the coronavirus remains a looming lethal threat. Local schools continue to deteriorate, and Malaysian academics their blissful indifference if not ignorance. The new Minister of Education is too busy saving the nation, after he had wrecked it.

Mahathir’s latest antic recalls the dark ugly days following the 1969 general elections that saw the UMNO-led coalition losing its supra majority. Mahathir himself was booted out of his own parliamentary seat. The ensuing brutal race riot forever scarred Malaysians. It has barely sealed over. This latest Mahathir’s monkeying threatens to remove that scab and reopen the old ugly wound, and with all the ensuing stench. The ugly viciousness of the rioters and senseless sufferings of the innocents caught in the crossfire of that riot are wrenchingly recounted in Hanna Alkaf’s prize-winning novel, The Weight Of Our Sky.

Mahathir claims to be a voracious reader. Give him a copy of that book. That might just refrain him from continuing to play with his highly incendiary race card. Extend the gift to the racists in DAP and UMNO, that is, if they could read English and appreciate elegant writing. As for those chauvinists wrapped in their religious robes in PAS, well, their reading repertoire does not extend beyond ancient musty Arabic kitabs.

The divide in 1969 was between Malays and Chinese. That was horrific enough. Today Mahathir has bested that. He drives not only Malays against non-Malays, but also Malays against Malays. Now that takes some doing!

Without any trace of embarrassment he called for a “unity” government. This from a leader who could not even unite his own party, the smallest in the ruling coalition. As usual, the irony escapes the man. He is in his own delusional world.

For a man who is always confident if not cocky with the media, the image Mahathir projected in his televised address was of a leader overwhelmed by events. The format he chose was to spare him the inevitable tough and awkward questions.

Nonetheless the old ugly Mahathir streak was still evident. He blamed politicians for the current chaos. As an unnecessary reminder, Mahathir had blamed Abdullah and Najib for the failure of Vision 2020, forgetting that he chose those two duds. Likewise, Mahathir’s New Economic Policy failed because of those “lazy Malays” who “easily forget.”

Mahathir is a bitter man, intent on settling old grudges, a schemer too smart by half, the no-longer-agile old flying squirrel who had missed the last branch. A more reflective metaphor would be the pyromaniac caught with a matchstick during an inferno claiming to start a “controlled burning.”

His supporters see Mahathir differently, heaping accolades like “sly fox of Malaysian politics,” “masterstroke genius,” and “master strategist.” A few described him as “Machiavellian.” This quote from The Prince, “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both,” is inappropriate for Mahathir. He is neither feared nor loved.

The future of Malaysia must be without Mahathir. As what exactly that would be, it is up to citizens, not the palace or Mahathir. The mandate that Malaysians gave Pakatan Harapan last May 2018 still holds.

As such after accepting Mahathir’s resignation, the King should have asked the present head of Pakatan, Anwar Ibrahim, to assume office. He should remain so until Parliament in an open, transparent, and formal session, with robust debates that could be witnessed by all, asserts otherwise. At which point Anwar should resign and either have another Pakatan leader take over or advise the King to dissolve Parliament.

Mahathir, the interim Prime Minister, advising the Agung to dissolve Parliament is Mahathir in his trademark spiteful mode.

Decisions arrived in private can be very different from that made in the open or following robust discussions. This is quite apart from Timur Kuran’s “preference falsification,” where one’s public utterances and professions are often at variance with one’s private convictions. A backroom deal, whether in a luxurious palace or a smoky bar, is unacceptable.

The Agung’s current remedy, presumably modelled after the Perak one following a similar debacle there after the 2008 elections, would not satisfy voters. Who could forget the spectacle of the Speaker of the Assembly being dragged out, or the Raja Muda humiliated with having to wait for hours to deliver his royal address! Spare Malaysia that odious scene.

I thought there was a silver lining to this recent dark cloud in that Malaysians had prevented Mahathir from anointing his third dud of a successor in Azmin Ali. Yet there he is again today, Mahathir pushing for yet another in the person of Muhyiddin Yassin.

Time to get out, Mahathir!


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