29.10.06

The Mahathir Badawi Stoush

Ah, the sun is shining again!!! Precious few things in life make me happier than watching BN politicians throwing handbags at 20 paces. What makes me even happier is watching Mahathir finally getting his just desserts.

Everytime he opens his mouth, Mahathir further shows his hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy. Badawi does not preside over a police state; in fact he has somewhat dismantled Mahathir's police state. Mahathir also made clear he chose Badawi over Najib because he thought he could be his yes-man, yet accuses Badawi to be surrounded by yes-men.

The fact of the matter is Badawi won a huge mandate from the public at the last general election, whether or not Mahathir or I like it. He is hugely popular and shrewd. He knew full well why he was appointed PM; because he had no strong power base within UMNO unlike Najib and could be manipulated by the great dictator. I think he surprised everyone by going to the people to get their support and by doing so, became the most powerful man in Malaysia very quickly. He has only tinkered around the edges-only given limited concessions to democracy but so starved are the people of freedom that they lap him up as a messiah. He is no great democrat (though I agree he could well be given more time), but a pragmatist. He wants to remain in power, and did what he had to do in order to remain at the helm. If that means giving concessions to the people, so be it. Do you really think it is from the goodness of his heart?

Nonetheless, we would be foolish to dismiss Mahathir's accusations as a ramblings of an old coot. The man is well acquainted with the inner going-ons of the government. His repeated accusations about the power of Badawi's son-in-law and son should not go unchecked. As well, the whole AP scandal is still shrouded in mystery; there is enough smoke to suggest open burning somewhere at MITI, and Badawi did not sack Rafidah. Why? Suspending UMNO's elections till the next general election-dictatorship!!! Who does he think he is to do such a thing?

Also, let's not forget Badawi's statement rebuttal about his son's company getting government contracts was that Mahathir's sons also get government contracts!!! That's not a sign of democratic but nepotistic behaviour. Best not appear to be corrupt in democratic societies, methinks, and if that means telling your kids to go fend for themselves, then so be it. But Malaysians in general are so used to these political family hand-outs that they consider it perfectly acceptable.

Also, Badawi's consensus making plan at the top is hardly conducive to producing long term changes in the structure of power at the top. It's one thing to reform the judiciary and police (and well done to him) but he shies away from confronting the dirty truths of Malaysian politics. Whether because he thinks he lacks the power or because he is part of the problem is debatable. For example, he won't touch the 30% bumiputera quota when it is patently not working because too many bumiputera politicians have made their fortunes over it and will easily pander to the disaffected bumiputeras should it be altered in any way, shape or form, so the rich bumiputeras will continue to make their fortune while the fishermen and farmers in rural areas continue to live like dogs.

His inability or unwillingness to tackle extremist Islam worries me too. He basically allowed them to force the NGOs on inter-faith dialogues to abandon their fora. This is a disgrace, and we increasingly witness Malaysia falling into the hands of the extreme Islamist who seem to consider non-believers as second class citizens. He needs to stand up to them and show another face of Islam-it's not enough to just talk about it; action is essential. Not addressing the issue out of political considerations might be understandable in order to maintain his power but the cost of destroying the fabric of Malaysian society is greater. Whenever the going gets tough with these core political issues, I'm afraid he tends to back down. With all the support he has, he should fear no one.

I really wonder what to make of him but with Mahathir, it's good to see all that I have said in the past come true and many Malaysians can now see it for themselves. Good to see his dignity destroyed, and his legacy diminished. The man was no good-he was a dictator who set Malaysian democracy back 20 years. He destroyed the judiciary, curtailed press freedom, and created political fear and persecution and oversaw a rise in corruption. Long may he continue to make a fool of himself. Perhaps there is a God after all?

2 comments:

  1. from a neutral's point of view (or rather some1 who reli doesnt give a toot),the whole mahathir vs badawi saga has managed to provide colour to my current, rather dull existence...thus im all for it!!

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  2. You should read Brendan Pereira's commentary on the New Straits Times website (www.nst.com.my) - you will laugh at how obsessed they are with the whole thing. Quite seriousbah, ketawa si Anwar....

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