kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,
kheru2006
kheru2006

The struggling history of Dr Mahathir

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been attacking Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in recent days, the sharpness of his criticism is even greater than criticisms from the opposition.

Some criticisms are justified while some are so unfounded to the extent of character assassination, showing his determination of destroying the target at all costs.

However, he does not seem to care at all!

The question is, why does Dr Mahathir keep doing this? Should we ask Machiavelli? Or Freud?

Machiavelli might say that it could be due to political power struggles and interest conflicts; Freud might tell you it could be a psychological problem of a political strongman.

It reminds me of Singapore's founding father, the late Lee Kuan Yew.

Also a former Prime Minister, also a strongman who had named his successor, Lee, however, did not break relationship with his successor, he did not attack him with abusive words either. The leadership baton of Singapore was passed smoothly.

When Lee passed away, his successor Goh Chok Tong made some emotional words, "He made sure he arrived before me for all events.

"As I respected him as my elder and mentor, I told him to dispense with this practice at non-formal events.

"But he explained that it was important to observe this protocol.

"Otherwise, people might draw the wrong conclusion that he did not respect me and take their cue from there."

Lee had considered even such details. No wonder he was so respected and loved by his team and the whole government was so united.

In contrast, even when he was still a freshman, Dr Mahathir had already contradicted the then Umno President and Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman.


Some criticisms are justified while some are so unfounded to the extent of character assassination, showing his determination of destroying the target at all costs.

When he became Prime Minister, two giants in the party and government, Tun Musa Hitam and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, had broken relationship with him, become his political opponents and were eventually defeated by him.

His hand-picked successor, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was stopped when he was about to step into the Prime Minister's Department and imprisoned, smashing his dream of taking over the office into pieces.

Another successor Tun Abdullah Badawi, a nice guy who tries not to offend anyone, had to step down under Dr Mahathir's severe condemnation.

Today, it’s Najib's turn.

Lee said in one of his books, "If the new PM fails, I have failed… Mahathir never thought that way. He undermined his successors."

Lee said that as a former Prime Minister, his role was to advise the next generation of leaders in the republic.

As for Dr Mahathir, more than half of his "role" was to defeat his opponents, including the opposition parties, his leaders, colleagues and successors over the more than half a century from the 1960s to 2015.

It is indeed weird as Malaysia has been played in his hands over all these years.

If he spent the energy on fighting against corruption, improve government efficiency and unite the people, he could have won more respect and gratitude from the people.

It makes people wonder whether his actions are for the good of the country? Or himself?

In China, you can hardly imagine Hu Jintao hindering Xi Jinping. In the US, it is quite impossible for Bill Clinton to criticise Barack Obama.

It is a question of the system, as well as part of political ethics. Otherwise, how can a country be governed?

Under a sound system, the opposition and the media are responsible to monitor the government while the Parliament and jurisdiction will restrict the government. Ethically, veteran or former leaders can give advice and criticise policies, but it should not be made based on personal preference. They should never get involved into an endless struggle because of personal and family interests.

What Najib can do is to positively respond to Dr Mahathir's accusations and put everything under the sun to let the people make their judgements, instead of confronting endlessly with the old man. This Opinion article was first published by Tay Tian Yan Sin Chew Daily on April 5, 2015 as published in the NST Opinion Letters April 6, 2015

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