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Mahathir fights to protect legacy

Mahathir fights to protect legacy

A long-brewing row between Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his chosen successor, Abdullah Badawi, appears to be coming to a head, the BBC’s Jonathan Kent writes.

The joke doing the rounds in Malaysia at the moment is that Mahathir Mohamad is suffering from PPMS – Post Prime Ministerial Syndrome.

The symptoms, say the wags, include irritability, emotional outbursts and a tendency to criticise everything and everyone.

When he retired in October 2003 he promised not to interfere in government. But in the last year Dr Mahathir has trained his famously acerbic tongue on his former colleagues, including the man he chose to be his successor, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

“There must be issues that really provoke him,” says A. Kadir Jasin, former editor of the New Straits Times newspaper group.

“Those four issues are the sudden rise in the number of import permits for cars which he claimed affected the national car project, Proton; the sale of a motorcycle company by Proton, the removal of Proton’s chief executive and the cancellation of the bridge to Singapore,” Mr Kadir believes.

‘The limit’

The common thread between all these issues is that of Mahathir’s legacy.

For more than two decades he single-mindedly drove Malaysia towards industrial development through a combination of large scale state intervention (such as launching pet projects like Proton) and by building a coterie of favoured businessmen to whom were handed government projects and lucrative monopolies. In the process he won a legion of admirers around the developing world.

Abdullah Badawi broke with Dr Mahathir’s penchant for mega-projects to concentrate on problems like rural poverty and education while rebuilding institutions debased during his predecessor’s tenure – the police, the judiciary and the civil service.

Matters started to come to a head in May after the government abandoned plans for a new bridge to Singapore – a project Dr Mahathir had championed when he was in office – on the grounds that it might contravene international law.

“This is the limit,” Dr Mahathir declared then. “To surrender your sovereignty to Singapore as if you are scared of them… This is a ‘half past six country’ with no guts.”

By June he had ratcheted up the rhetoric, announcing publicly that he regretted appointing Mr Abdullah as his successor.

“I have helped many people up only for them to stab me in the back,” Dr Mahathir said. “I’m in the habit of choosing the wrong people.”

TV response

By the beginning of August a whispering campaign against members of Abdullah Badawi’s immediate family had gathered momentum. Dr Mahathir, telling reporters he was in fear of being arrested, alleged that Mr Abdullah’s son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, was handing out government contracts and determining policy.

After months of resolutely refusing to be drawn, Mr Abdullah went on national television to confront his detractors. “I chose to keep quiet because I didn’t want to quarrel with [Dr Mahathir] in the newspaper,” he said, and defended his family.

His son, Kamaluddin Abdullah, whose company Scomi was caught up in the nuclear technology for Libya scandal, has made a fortune in the oil industry.

“Kamal has never used his relationship with me to advance in business,” said his father.

As for his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, Mr Abdullah countered: “People say I do the things as Khairy says. There is no such thing.”

That did not silence Dr Mahathir. “There are several… things which I will come out with, one at a time, [including] evidence of corruption,” he told a news conference last week, as he dismissed Mr Abdullah’s response.

“All he was saying was that ‘I’m a good man… I’m a religious man, I wouldn’t do this’. But specific answers, there were none,” Dr Mahathir said.

‘Not protected’

The expression often used to describe the smoke and mirrors of Malaysian politics is wayang kulit, shadow puppetry.

“It’s the politics of patronage and power – it’s about the control of money and the control of power, that is the root of the problem,” said P. Gunasegaram, of The Edge, an independent and outspoken business weekly.

R. Sivarasa, a prominent human rights lawyer and vice-president of the opposition National Justice Party, agrees that it is about legacy in the widest sense.

Because although Dr Mahathir is casting aspersions about his successor, of the two men he is the far more ready target – not least over the issue of state funds being used to bail out one of his sons’ companies during the August 1997 financial crisis.

“The root of the dispute is about Mahathir needing to act to prevent too much of his past unravelling, leaving him possibly open to prosecution,” Mr Sivarasa said. “He needed to see the system absolutely under control, even after his departure. He’s now realised that Abdullah is not protecting him and he’s now moving for a solution.”

Come November, Abdullah Badawi will face the only people who can unseat him; the 2,500 delegates to the annual general assembly of his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

There are many in the party frustrated that Mr Abdullah has reduced the flow of government contracts that oil its political wheels. But in Mr Abdullah’s favour is the party’s feudal loyalty to its leader – which may count for even more than money when the time comes to vote.

“He’s got the power of incumbency and if you look at the history of UMNO politics, no-one has managed to unseat an incumbent,” Mr Gunasegaran said.

If Mr Abdullah survives November’s party assembly, Dr Mahathir might indeed find his world unravelling. For he may be judged to have made his move and failed. And as the old adage has it, if you move to strike the king strike well, for if he lives he will have your head. – BBC

19 Comments:

Patriot said…
Pak Lah can easily give that egomanaic plenty of opportunity to talk in the court. But being a respectful man, Pak Lah chose to remain a punching bag.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 10:50:06 AM  
alancheong7 said…
The kid gloves are OFF!
Nok gocoh gi pade, c’mon bring on all you’ve got
Nice sandiwara and wayang kulit, mahathir, but you continue to lose whatever remnant of respect and credibility, as your true colours show
mahathir mudah lupa…lupa diri.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 10:56:12 AM  
alrawa said…
It is now clear what Mahathir wants. The premiership! And he wants to create history as the only former PM to win back the premiership.
Best of luck with lots of toddy drinking to Mahathir.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 11:03:32 AM  
Cinama said…
TDM thinks that he is indispensable. In actual fact, he is already an expired product but was on the shelf due to mere greed.I would like to give him the title ” Father of Disunity”. Look at the different races today – ketuanan melayu split the nation. The earlier PM created unity and we obtained independence without any bloodshed. Who can stop us if we are united.

Today the malay would side the Arab (who they think are all muslim and representing God) instead of fellow loyal Malaysian of other races.

Malay would not eat at non-muslim restaurant. Malay dont want to be seen with non-malay friend. It is ok if the fornicate with fellow malay muslim but not right to eat at a non-malay restaurant. I just do not understand malay anymore…Should we blame Pak Lah or is it you TDM????

In my memory, malay are among the friendliest and most courteous people on mother earth. TDM policies and dictorial rule for the last 20++ years have turn the youngster into zombies who does not know the history of the nation.

Changes are made that non-malay are “pendatang” while indonesian muslim are brothers. Non-malay contribution to independence are been projected as insignificant and the malay are the only true nationalist?

I am a sad oldman of 48 and sometime feel like giving up the wish to see a real muhibah Malaysia. TDM Go in Peace and retired gracefully – what you have done are already forgiven. We hold no grudges against you, just leave our nation to go on. Pak Lah may made a lot of mistakes but his appointment as PM is with the permission of the almighty God. If the almighty does not want him there, he will be removed. Dont tell us that God have made you his messenger – Nobody believe you anymore TDM

Be Gone

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 11:15:49 AM  
Nik Aziz said…
I would certainly believe that Mahathir had some sinister idea to keep the Government silent about wrongdoings in his past. But how old is TDM again? And what is the average life span of a human being….?Unless he is the devil(iblis) as Badawi publicly announce, this theory seems highly unlikely. His ideas may remain immortal, but people die.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 11:15:53 AM  
d_BigFoot said…
Here’s a Mahathir JOkE for ya:
Mahathir said, “The US landed on the Moon, China is planning to go to the moon also. We, Malaysians, though half-past-six, still BOLEH! We go to the Sun!”A little Indian kid in the audience, primary 1 kid it seems, said out loud:
“Yo, ex-PM, don’t you think your spaceship and your ass will be burnt & pulverized by going to the Sun?”

Mahathir snapped back:
“NO way, thambi! We go at night!!!!!”

The Indian kid just cried out loud, telling his parents:
“Papa, mama, let’s get the hell outta here! Let’s go back to Kerala!”

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 11:26:04 AM  
bolehputra said…
“There must be issues that really provoke him,” says A. Kadir Jasin, former editor of the New Straits Times newspaper group.
Of course, it concerns the protection of his loot. To hell with the legacy.

“Those four issues are the sudden rise in the number of import permits for cars which he claimed affected the national car project, Proton; the sale of a motorcycle company by Proton, the removal of Proton’s chief executive and the cancellation of the bridge to Singapore,” Mr Kadir believes.

These are just smoke screens. It’s the loot, stupid.

“This is the limit,” Dr Mahathir declared then. “To surrender your sovereignty to Singapore as if you are scared of them… This is a ‘half past six country’ with no guts.”

Nice use of jingoism and demogoguery to preserve one’s loot.

“I have helped many people up only for them to stab me in the back,” Dr Mahathir said. “I’m in the habit of choosing the wrong people.”

and we couldn’t agree with you more. Look at your records which include Daim, Nor, Tajuddin, Wan Asme, Eric Chia, Ting, etc. What makes you think you are correct now?

“The root of the dispute is about Mahathir needing to act to prevent too much of his past unravelling, leaving him possibly open to prosecution,” Mr Sivarasa said. “He needed to see the system absolutely under control, even after his departure. He’s now realised that Abdullah is not protecting him and he’s now moving for a solution.”

Spot on, it is the loot, and nothing but the protection of his loot. Ultimately and always has been about his personal loot protection.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 11:46:48 AM  
long jaafar said…
Cinama,You are implying that all the reasons for disunity is because of the malays.
It’s people like you,who are biased, that causes the lack of understanding amongst the races. Wake up, my dear man! You are 48, and yet you have not grown up.

LJ

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 2:00:02 PM  
siswaMMU said…
apa yang korang marah sgt dgn mahathir nih…..die dah tolong sampai suara hati rakyat dan ketidakpuashatian rakyat….klu nk harap korang yg ckp cis takde nyer dollah nak dgr…..knp dia batalkan jambatan tuh….alasan sebab rakyat taknak….YANG RAKYAT TAKNAK ADALAH JUAL PASIR DGN BAGI RUANG UDARA BUKAN JAMBTAN YANG RAKYAT TAKNAK….salah ker die suarakan bende tuh…aku pon nak suarakan pada paklah tapi klu aku yg suarakan takde nyer paklah nak dengar…so bile drM yg suarakan aku rasa lega ar gak…atleast ade org cakapkan utk aku pasal bende nih….thanx drM
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 2:13:17 PM  
dart said…
AlRawa says:”It is now clear what Mahathir wants. The premiership! And he wants to create history…

Right about wanting back the PMship, but not because of wanting history. Hi s place in history is guranteed in no less the same way as the fir’aun of ancient Egypt. Oh Yes….he wants the PMship, so that he CAN ARRANGE FOR THE JUDGES THAT WILL HEAR HIM DEFEND HIS RM100 million SUIT!

Bolehputra says:
These are just smoke screens. It’s the loot, stupid.

Agreed 110%. But its both loot and legacy! This monster is the best in diverting attention. To his irrelevant party he talks of “KETUANAN MELAYU.” To the Malaysian public, he talks of “SOVERIGNITY” (normally by playing the Singapore card!).

He has no qualms about diverting attention and putting the blame of “Ops Lalang” on the police! The very people who had eaten shit, simply because he had asked them to!

That’s fir’aun for you!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 2:45:44 PM  
gergeten said…
Mahathir,If you want to gaduh with anybody, find one better reasonlah. The rakyat is upset with the government because of more pressing issues – job creations, contractors are in trouble, minyak naik so on and so forth. But you are quarelling with the government on whether to build the bridge or not. This has got little to do with the interest of the rakyat.

Karut betul you ni Mahathir!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 2:53:28 PM  
daverics said…
Cinama and Long Jaafar,I agree with both your view. I think you are both talking the same thing.

When I was in primary school, I used to play with my malay friends a lot. but when i begin secondary school, my malay friends won’t even take lift and rather take public transport. We became cordial but not close…. Now, I can only remember 2 childhood friends who I still keep in touch with.

It was during Mahathir, in the late 80’s up till 93 that I realised that my malay neighbours would group together to notify my parents that our dogs are dangerous. (For god’s sake we had dogs since 1979.. why are dogs only dangerous towards malay neighbours??.. and these were sausage dogs)..

I never noticed it but it’s only recently that I see how a man can show his bad side… look at the eyes of Mahathir when he’s giving his speeches these days… the way he stares, the way he speaks… what’s all this Jantan or tak jantan coming in to the picture??? picking a fight or what?

if want to pick fight, go ahead, kill yourself… but we Malaysians are not interested in your fights… (though it’s a good scandal for the country)…

Mahathir, you and your family have tasted luxury…. let others have some fun…

you’ve enjoyed private boat holidays… let us wage earner get some projects pulak la…

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 3:43:10 PM  
daverics said…
Again, Mahathir,WHAT’S THE POINT OF BUILDING THE BRIDGE?

WHAT DOES IT DO? ECONOMIC GROWTH?

DOES IT PROVE THAT YOU HAVE BALLS?

DOES IT PROVE THAT MALAYSIA IS FREE?

WHY FIGHT SO HARD JUST FOR THE BRIDGE??

WHY GIVE UP ON PROTON?? IF YOU CAN SAVE THE BRIDGE, YOU CAN SAVE PROTON WITH YOUR MOUTH

WHAT’S YOUR TRUE INTENTION??? THAT MALAYSIA BOLEH OR MAHATHIR BOLEH???

COME ON COME ON…. speak up…

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 3:45:29 PM  
kluangman said…
Hello…d_BigFoot, itu cerita paria you pergi cerita sama you punya amma, sama u punya appa laa..
Lu ipoh malii kaa..
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 3:53:55 PM  
kluangman said…
Hello daverics…saya suka cara tulisan awak, menarik,..cuma awak tidak senang bila ada orang lain naik bot mewah dan u tidak .
Saya rasa u dapat PHD dari singapura..
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 3:56:47 PM  
UmnoPutras said…
WE, UMNOPutras are the king, GOds and warlords of this country.We want our Mercedez benz, bungalow house and money printing machine.

To be honest, we don’t fuck care what project we get. Because most of the time, we just mark it up and sell to others. What kind of projects also we can do. Computer, construction, landscape, building maintenance and etc. But actually what is the point of doing so much to get money.

We prefer that UMNO gives us money printing machine so that we can print money from our home. what will the non-malays do, if we were given money printing machine. The non-malays can’t do anything at all. We control the army, the police, the press and we can do anything to the non-malays.

So, DR.M is our hero and we will continue carrying his balls. His balls are much bigger than Badawi’s head. Dr.M knows what exactly Malay wants. A good life with hardly any effort done. This is call efficiency.

HIDUP MELAYU HIDUP MELAYU

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 7:32:51 PM  
scout72 said…
This is like watching and listening to 2 grumpy old men whingeing about who said what and when… After a while it gets really boring and everyone stops listening.
I think for most Malaysians all they care about is whether money is flowing into their pockets and the government leaves them in peace to get on with their lives and families.
Heck – I think most Malaysians would vote for a donkey if it could deliver them a hassle free comfortable life.
We voted for one at the last election – lets wait for the next one….
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 7:44:27 PM  
monsterball said…
yea cinema writer..those were the good old days.I was even allowed to hit the wooden “gong” in a small mosque with a smile from the man in charge.We never chosed to sit away from any malays…as we are taught to identify races….never to keep away or be racialistic.
Infact……my best friends are malays during school days.They teach me how to “panching ikan” and climb coconut trees. Catching fish is an art…believe me….yet they part their knowledge willingly. Mother always with a smile to invite me in for cup of coffee before I go home.
When they visit me…taught them how to play badminton and likewise….my beloved mother will insist they eat her goring pisang or ubikayu before going home!!She was always after skinny children to make the fat.
We swim at open sea or lakes and climb a bend coconut tree trunk to sleep on.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS….ALL GONE.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 8:44:08 PM  
beggar said…
everyone wants to goncang the tree nowadays…
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 9:08:25 PM  

Source: http://www.malaysia-today.net/Blog-n/2006/08/mahathir-fights-to-protect-legacy.htm

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 - Posted by | News

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