Mahathir, you delude yourself; your time is over

An open letter to an ancient politician

Mahathir launched the Gerakan Tanah Air coalition on 4 August 2022 - YUSOF MAT ISA/MALAY MAIL

By Phlip Rodrigues

Dear Dr Mahathir Mohamad

You are living in a world of delusions where you think you are still the leader who is indispensable to the country.

You imagine yourself as a beacon of unparalleled wisdom, a fountain of unmatched experience, and therefore someone extraordinary.

For over 20 years, you were the face of Malaysia, and you were held in high regard at home and abroad. You were like a constantly whirring dynamo, always driving the country to greater heights in accordance with your ambition and vision.

At times, you were ruthless with your political opponents or those who thought did not toe your line under your administration. You even took on the West and were hailed a brave heart who dared to debunk all the rubbish about Western values, concepts and principles.

You were so restless, churning out one grandiose scheme after another while hitting out at one enemy after another. Even after you retired, you were restless: you went after your successor and succeeded in seeing him ousted.

But you did not sit still when another prime minister took over the helm. You became highly agitated with this protege of yours, whose policies and corrupt practices worked you into a tower of rage.

Then the unimaginable happened: you led the charge in 2018 against the once indomitable juggernaut, your own former party, and toppled the Pekan man who eventually ended up behind bars.

In a way, you saved Malaysia with your second political coronation. But your second coming was a disaster when your alliance broke up, sending you once again into the political wildness.

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Still, your restlessness got the better of you and now, with the upcoming general election, you are scheming to return for a third time.

Doctor, you delude yourself into thinking that the people want you back. You foolishly think your new party will win the hearts and minds of voters and that you can, this time, cure the ills of the country with your intelligence and experience.

But the reality is that the era of “Mahathirism” is over. Your prime time is over. Your political shelf-life has expired.

Today, the wind of change is blowing strongly across the country, presaging the rise of a new order in which you will have no part at all.

The people whom you say want you back in the saddle do not represent the views of the majority who earnestly desire to see your back. Your geriatric supporters are wedded to the old ways, just like you, and cannot think out of the Mahathir box.

It is the young blood who will call the shots. This new generation of voters may not tip the scales, but their voices will be heard loud and clear. They know fully well that the older leaders have made a mess of their time in power, and they want all these so-called wise men to go and never show their faces again.

You cling to the rusty view that the young people do not have what it takes to become national leaders. Their inexperience works against them, so you contend. These upstarts must learn from the old hands how to steer the ship of state. You want them all to stay in the background and watch and study how Mahathir rules the waves yet again.

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Sure, the young must take lessons in statesmanship from the masters. But this old school of thought is not working anymore. Just look at your ‘pupil’ from Pekan. What did the young man learn from his days in your political class?

One suspects you feel threatened by the imminent rise of youth power. You are trying your level best to pooh-pooh the idea that the young are the wave of the future. No doubt, you will repeat this narrative to the Malay heartland during your campaign rounds to influence, especially the elderly, their choice of candidates.

Should the young men and women take control of the destiny of the country, it is unlikely you will retreat into your shell. You will be restless once more and will behave the same old Mahathir way: criticising or undermining the young leaders endlessly until the baton passes into your hand another time, perhaps at a more advanced age.

One suspects that if there is one overriding motive in your quest for power, it is to take out your long political knife and strike down your enemies. It appears you still have unfinished business to settle.

But, doctor, you will not get your bitter or sweet revenge. The writing is on the wall. Your prescriptions for the country are no longer effective. What the country needs now is a new Malaysia.

We want young men and women to take to the stage in line with current developments in political thought, economic rejuvenation, social restructuring – in all fields of human endeavour. This will be the vanguard that we want to see emerge from the furnace of the electoral battle.

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And you would be mistaken if you think the younger generation cannot muster the support of the people. Because the vanguard will be backed by a rearguard of older voters who are fed up with all things connected to the old order. They, too, want change.

We all want to build a better future free from the shackles of the past.

Phlip Rodrigues is a former journalist

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
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Sulaiman Abdullah
Sulaiman Abdullah
30 Oct 2022 8.52am

I agree wholeheartedly with the views expressed.Does the old man get to see and read all the comments that have been made or written or are these somehow hidden from him…I just wonder how to teach him a lession that he can react positively?

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng
Stephen Tan Ban Cheng
30 Oct 2022 5.16am

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of
the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time,” so said
Abraham Lincoln.

How apt since, at the risk of political over-simplication, the first leg of that
quotation encapsulated your first 22 years in power from 1981 till 2003,
the second leg epitomised your last 22 months in power from May 2018
till May 2020 while the final leg will justify the entire lesson of that quotation!

Take a rest, my olde friend. We shall meet again if both of us, you at 97
and I at 72, live long enough. Such reunions occur, alas, by the Grace of
the Divine. Meanwhile, let us humbly make repentance for all our sins
of commission or omission.

Last edited 4 months ago by Stephen Tan Ban Cheng