Legacy Made, Legacy Ruined: Only Mahathir Knows Why

By Phar Kim Beng
Strategic Pan Indo-Pacific Arena
Twitter: @indo_pan
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Strategicpipa

All men are not angels. Mahathir qualifies clearly as the latter. His friends were jailed, his cabinet colleagues were hoodwinked. As and when it suits his purpose, he lied to the whole country, at the senior age of 93, that time was no longer at his side.

And, he needed the support of the whole country to checkmate Najib Razak as the Prime Minister of Malaysia on May 9, 2018. The victory was both historic and histrionic. He won on the ticket of Party Keadilan, the very party of Anwar Ibrahim, with which he has tried to destroy, if not Anwar Ibrahim in his entirety.

Yet, amidst the manner by which won, where some 83 percent of the urban, semi-urban and rural voters came out in droves to support him, little did they know there was a plot within a plot.

With Datuk Mohammad Mat Zarip as his political secretary, schemes were conceived to abort the government of Pakatan Harapan halfway, to remove Mahathir himself binding to the promise, both written or verbal, to transfer the reins of leadership to his Prime Minister-In-Waiting Anwar Ibrahim.

The act was both lowly and pockmarked with all the signs of traitors in the history of all traitors. Be it Brutus, Mark Anthony, Muawiya, or, Judas against Prophet Isa alaihissalam, Mahathir was their post-modern quintessential reincarnation. He knifed Anwar Ibrahim (again); from the front and back, yet feigned to claim sheer innocence.

To defend himself, perhaps to the Japanese media, who believe him that he was a genuine “leader,” Mahathir asked Anwar Ibrahim for yet another chance to be the Prime Minister for the third time. His reasoning?

“I am a man of my word. I am here to honor my word. After APEC, I will honor my word to hand the trappings of office to Anwar Ibrahim.” But true to form, he added another caveat. “I will hand it to you only if you have the parliamentary every support of all other Members of Parliament.

The statement was as ludicrous as it was, for the lack of better words, stupid. Why would Anwar Ibrahim not command the confidence of the parliament? By himself, he has received the support of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Amanah, plus his own Keadilan Party of some 91 votes, if not more.

Had Mahathir not triggered 11 Members of Parliament of Keadilan to join Bersatu, essentially to snap at the heels of Anwar Ibrahim, all who are now clearly un-electable in future, due to their treacherous behavior to swing to the side of Mahyuddin Yassin in what is now known as the Sheraton Move on February 29, the process of succession would have been exactly how the Malaysians of all races and creeds would have wanted it. After Mahathir, Anwar Ibrahim.

And Mahathir’s tenure, as agreed prior to the 14th General Election, was to remain as Prime Minister for no more than two years; which implied an expiry period by May 2020. When 2020 came, all forms of excuses were given through his proxies that be would be a lame-duck Prime Minister. If that was Mahathir’s genuine concern, he would have been a lame-duck Prime Minister the moment he was sworn in as the 7th Prime Minister to ensure a smooth transition. Yet, Mahathir being Mahathir, he dabbled in the black art of divide and conquer, drawing some of Anwar Ibrahim’s parliamentary supporters from him.

When Mahathir unilaterally resigned, on February 24, 2020, causing the whole Pakatan Harapan government to collapse, the King asked if Mahathir could remain an interim Prime Minister.

He agreed. Only to further insists that he should be back in the saddle the Prime Minister (again!). It was a charade though, this time no one knew if he wanted to be the Prime Minister until 2022 or 2023, which naturally spooked Anwar Ibrahim from ever accepting the poisoned chalice.

The international community, including the leaders in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates, were gratified that Anwar Ibrahim did not fall for the false offer hook, line, and sinker. None of them wanted to work with a man who had no real principles.

Malaysians, at large, who voted with their firmest conviction and conscience in 2018 — — that the “kleptocrats” be gone — — never expected Mahathir to be an incorrigible liar to work in cahoots with some of them. This was the loss of the political innocence of Malaysia. Just as Anwar Ibrahim can be betrayed, Anwar Ibrahim once said, what is there to prevent all of you Malaysians from betrayed too, he affirmed in 1998? Well, Malaysians are given the guilt partly because Malaysians wrongly assumed Bersih I-V was sufficiently powerful to be a deterrent. It never was.

But, all is well and good. With Mahathir unable to hold to his promise to lead, and reform the country, absenting himself in the Presidential Council of Pakatan Harapan for months on end, to kneecap the function of the coalition, for the first time in history, Malays, Chinese and Indians, invariably other races in Sabah and Sarawak too, could see for themselves, that the true maestro of the Game of Thrones was clearly Mahathir, with Mahyuddin Yassin and Azmin Ali, indeed, Zuraida Kamaruddin, holding gingerly to his coat-tail. Malaysians are maturing too.

Ironically, those who still believe Mahathir should be given a second chance to be the Prime Minister for the second tenure are weak thinkers and strategists like Lim Guan Eng in the Democratic Action Party (DAP). There is no need to mention more.

But to what end? The latter is now charged again for receiving serious kickbacks from hiring a consultancy to look into the viability of the third Penang tunnel project, in addition to buying a bungalow in Penang, at almost RM 5 million below the price of ordinary citizens. Even DAP had been trapped.

Meanwhile, neophytes such as Syed Saddiq had begun to distance himself from Mahathir too, by attempting to form his own youth party, rather than to remain with Mahathir’s newbie called Pejuang. There is nothing to fight for when the leader is a liar-in-chief.

One can only say that s/he who feasts from the rotten labor of his or her hands, will soon taste the bitterness of the fruits. Mahathir and those who betrayed Malaysia, will on the Day of Reckoning, be facing this unpleasant yet true reawakening.

Reformasi movement has been around since 1998, if not earlier, under the leadership and inspiration of Anwar Ibrahim, shaped to a large degree by his own imprisonment and suffering too.

Mahathir and all who triggered the train wreck that had put Prime Minister Mahyuddin Yassin in office, a Prime Minister whose own physical well being is in deep question, not to mention his political depth, will in due course suffer a rude awakening as well. Anwar as the next Prime Minister means Anwar as the true one. Full stop. That was the deal of the 14th General Election. Mahathir was but to be a seat warmer. And if Mahyuddin deserves any reward, he should have been given the seat of the Deputy Prime Minister, a position that would have sufficed to restore his career for speaking out against Najib Razak, his predecessor.

Come what may, amidst these chicaneries, the Gross Domestic Product of Malaysia would be contracting by 17.1 percent next year, the worst in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). More than 1 million people would be out of a job by the end of 2021, even that is an overly optimistic figure.

As for Sars Cov II, the Director-General of Health naively believed that the chain or vector of transmission can be broken by following the Standard Operating Procedures, starting with good hand hygiene and social distancing.

All good and well if superficiality is the game. Yet, if the likes of Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, China has had a serious relapse(s), even in the parts of Xinjiang, despite the health regime put in place to “test, treat and trace,” one wonders how Malaysia can beat this without latching on to a country that can be at the forefront a vaccine?

Vietnam and Thailand are at least linked to the vaccine effort of the University of Oxford. In the case of Singapore, they work with Duke University. Thus, who and where is the institutional partner of Malaysia? None.

Not surprisingly, the Minister of Tourism Nancy Shukry, affirmed to Nikkei Asia Review on August 28th 2020, that Malaysia would be “closed for tourism business, potentially into June 2021.

It would seem that even divine intervention was ready to phase Mahathir out if he himself had insisted on overstaying his welcome.

How? Mahathir’s much-vaunted Visit Malaysia Year 2020 was never meant to be, be it this year or the next.

To the degree even when Anwar Ibrahim offered Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir as the Deputy Prime Minister, indeed as the basis to regain the mantle of leadership from the government, Mahathir said no. The message seems to be: either me or none at all. But isn’t Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir his own son? When famished, the proverbial lion does eat his own cub.

To be sure, Anwar Ibrahim has no problem with this zero-sum mentality, that verges on lunacy. First, Mahathir is 95, with a failing memory, propped up by the gadgets of a Teleprompter invented in the 1970s.

Secondly, Mahathir’s Look East policy is in tatters, as China — not Japan — has become the clear and present danger to Malaysia in the South China Sea. With 89 encroachments into the Exclusive Economic Zones of Malaysia, the issue is not even militarization, but “MILITIA-IZATION” where illegal Chinese fishing trawlers come into the waters of Malaysia to siphon off the best catch. Even Vietnam has taken to this practice of violating the sanctity of Malaysian waters, leading to a shoot off that caused the casualty of a Vietnamese fisherman last week.

Thirdly, as the Cold War between China and the United States heats up, Malaysia needs to safeguard its communication links from outside interference. In a world where nearly everything is done through internet, clean internet is one of the first defenses for a country’s own citizens. And the current land cables of Malaysia were originally laid by ZTE in 1997, a company with one of the closest military connections with the Chinese Communist Party.

Such a project can be built and owned by Malaysians, whether over the land or under the sea, without having to side with the Bald Eagle or the Emerging Dragon.

Where does this place Mahathir? A position of negative equity, who not only failed to destroy UMNO but allowed UMNO and PAS to return. Nor do the Americans and Chinese trust him at all. Talk about idiocy to the extreme.

That in a way is Mahathir to the brim. While charming to look at, and easy to mesmerize, the man himself is a walking disaster. But then again, as mentioned earlier, Malaysians are not afraid anymore. Mahathir is a has been. Those who want to fend for Mahathir may well be Lim Guan Eng and his father, those ironically once jailed by none other than Mahathir himself.

Come the next snap or General Election, Keadilan would do exceedingly well now that the traitors have been purged and not able to function with the tucks and pulls of the puppet master from Kedah. Enough is enough. Begone, old man. You are not half as good as you think you are. Whether it is your antisemitism or denial of 9–11 or febrile anti-colonialism, Mahathir does measure up to the standards of Robert Mugabe, the late President of Zimbabwe.

Malaysia, in the current trajectory, could be the next Nigeria too, granted that the kleptocrats have been brought into the fray. The problem is they have nothing more, or, left to steal.

With oil hovering at USD 45 per barrel, Petronas would not be the perpetual Knight in the Silver Armour. The 2 trillion ringgit that lies outside of the government-linked companies of Malaysia would not be brought back too, unless sold to the people of Wall Street at a great discount, or, perhaps China.

If they did, both China and the United States would not take kindly to Malaysia selling anything to anyone without getting the first bite. Therein the Mahathir legacy. He has left none, and will bid the country with nary a thing to offer except: Sorry, I am not perfect; which he has said twice.

The irony drips with condescension. If you are not sufficiently good enough, by your own admission, why do you want to be a Prime Minister again and again?

It is not as if Mahathir has got a grip of algorithm, artificial intelligence, automation, and analysis of big data, all of which are the pillars of the global economy during and after SARS Cov II. Be gone Mahathir. You have outlived your shenanigans.