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Umno is responsible for the mess we are in – NOT Mahathir!

Moments after Mahathir announced his resignation in 2002, Umno leaders pressured him to retract his decision

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P Ramakrishnan asks Umno leaders who are now strident Mahathir critics: if you now think that Mahathir was a monster, who created that monster in the first place?

Before former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was involved in the ‘Oust Najib’ campaign, he was a much respected and revered leader and considered and accepted as a great Umno president as far as Umno, the Malay party, was concerned. He was perceived by Umno leaders and his former cabinet colleagues as faultless and a wise trailblazing leader.

But all that changed the moment he became the leading figure in the campaign to topple Najib Razak, the current Prime Minister.

Najib’s ministers and Umno leaders who had worked with Mahathir very closely during his years as Prime Minister have now turned against him viciously. They blame Mahathir for all that was not right during his 22-year tenure. They accuse him of being a dictator during his time in office – that he had acted with an iron-hand; that he arrested and put away his critics; that there was no rule of law during his time.

A simple logical question arises. How did he become a dictator? Did he become a dictator all by himself without any help from his present-day critics?

To these present-day Umno leaders, who are now his critics, I ask:

Did Mahathir really become so powerful without your support? Who conferred the power on him to become that omnipotent? How could he act as he pleased without any restraint or accountability? How could his actions be legitimised without your endorsement and backing? As ministers in his cabinet, didn’t you go along with him?

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You now blame him for the mess the country is in. Did he single-handedly bring about this mess? Weren’t you comrades-in-arms? Didn’t you put up your hands in support to endorse his policies? That being the case, doesn’t that make you accomplices and collaborators? Aren’t you then just as guilty of the same things you now accuse him of?

You accuse Mahathir of being anti-monarchy now. Was he anti-monarchy single-handedly? Do you remember the large rallies? Didn’t you cheer and applaud Mahathir when he criticised their lifestyle and ridiculed their court language? Didn’t you egg him on with your undivided loyalty to him?

Didn’t you support the setting up of the special court to try errant rulers who stray from the true path of justice and morality? Didn’t you pass the ridiculous law that enabled a bill to become law automatically – even if royal assent was denied – within a month of presenting a bill that had been passed by Parliament?

Weren’t you part of the cover-up of scandals and wrongdoings when you used your majority in Parliament to bulldoze through the much-hated and dreaded Official Secrets Act?

Aren’t you all collectively responsible for Mahathir’s actions and for all that he did that you now consider obnoxious and vile? Didn’t you contribute to his actions by your consent and uncaring attitude?

Pause a moment, ponder a while and ask yourselves whether Mahathir acquired that kind of absolute authority without your consent, without you conceding your right to check him in the interest of the nation and the people? Weren’t you aware that you owed a solemn duty to this nation to act responsibly?

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Umno had the authority and responsibility to remove him and put things right when, as you critics now allege, he crossed the line and demeaned the democratic way of life in our civil society. But you chose to play ball with him. Who bears greater responsibility for undermining our parliamentary democracy: you or Mahathir?

Are you implying that until his resignation, Mahathir was allegedly allowed to cross the  Rubicon and assume dictatorial powers, so to speak, while those of you in the cabinet or in leadership positions in Umno, acting individually or in concert, failed to stand up and speak truth to power?

When he announced his decision to resign in 2002, why were you all so shocked and dumbfounded and found it difficult to accept his decision to step down? Didn’t you send emissaries to persuade him to continue even beyond his 22-year rule? You wanted him to continue forever, it would seem! Did you ever say, “Enough is enough”? You were contented; you were enthralled with him, weren’t you?

Umno had the strength and the means to remove him at any point during his 22-year rule. But what did you do? You gave your overwhelming, undivided support at every Umno assembly! The Umno assembly could have stopped him in his tracks and removed him as president. That would have effectively and automatically cast him aside as prime minister. Why didn’t you do that?

Now to condemn him for all that he did during his reign is nothing but sheer hypocrisy. Don’t you realise that by condemning him for his purported excesses, you are unwittingly condemning yourselves for your inaction? If the allegations are true, it is like the proverbial pot calling the kettle black!

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If you now think that Mahathir was a monster, who created that monster? My friends, you critics did it, willingly, without a tinge of conscience! And where does that leave you?

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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7 Mar 2018 3.42pm

I think both you and Tun should read more about the Philippines president and his authority! A leader should be a leader not who plays a role to save their butts!

Balwant Singh
Balwant Singh
26 Feb 2018 1.40pm

Beautifully expressed sir. There is a lot of truth in what you have said. These … apple-polishers now regret what they themselves have created. All because he, like the rest of Malaysians want Najib out. But Najib, like Mahathir, continues to abuse the power he has because of the support of those under him. You just wait and see what these same bums will have to say about Najib when he is no longer P.M.

26 Feb 2018 4.34pm
Reply to  Balwant Singh

A though had cross my mind recently, that what if Mahathir leads Pakatan to victory in GE14, Najib is either prosecuted or is expelled from UMNO, then Pribumi splits from Pakatan, Mahathir, Mukhriz, Muhyiddin and Pribumi members rejoin UMNO, leaving Pakatan a minority government, the Pakatan government falls and BN becomes the federal government again.

That’s just my thought, whether it happens or not dunno.

26 Feb 2018 4.51pm
Reply to  Balwant Singh

Another thought which often crosses my mind is that whilst we may have more room for free speech, free press, more rights to peaceful assembly and so forth under a Pakatan government, however will we be economically better off than now under a BN government.

When President Marcos fell 31 year ago, there were cheers and jubilation in Philippines and elsewhere and more freedoms for the people but 31 years on, have the livelihoods of the Philippines people improved, considering that by the mid-1990s, Pilipinos and Filipinas were venturing abroad, including to Malaysia in search of menial jobs as maids and this continues until today.

What plans does Pakatan have to make our lives better overall?

24 Feb 2018 2.32pm

Despite its Christian religious overtones in the second stanza, there is secular relevance in the poem, The Second Coming, By William Butler Yeats, to Malaysia and many other countries today:-

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


Without a common aim, our country and others fall apart at the seams.

What is our common aim today?

24 Feb 2018 2.25pm

The thought crossed my mind that Malayans of all races had a common purpose to win an independent Malaya from the British and this spirit carried over into our early days of independence but overtime this purpose receded into history, whilst conflicting communal purposes came to the fore, along with venal and self-serving purposes, such as to profit from political power and position.

Malaysian politics today is very much about fragmented and often conflicting aims based upon principles, race, religion, ideologies and self-serving interests.

There’s truth in the Chinese belief that the first generation builds, the second maintains and the third squanders, and in the Vedic belief of the four ages, and we are the Age of Kali.

Ban Cheng Tan
Ban Cheng Tan
23 Feb 2018 5.59pm


In “When he announced his decision to resign in 1992, …” the year should be 2002. My bad.

It is clear from all this manoeuverings that underneath the ostensible calm was the tensions and struggles the people could not see.

Aliran admin
23 Feb 2018 6.34pm
Reply to  Ban Cheng Tan

Thanks for pointing that out, Ban Cheng. Now corrected.

23 Feb 2018 12.40pm

Anwar spoke up and he paid the price. Had he held his fire until he was the 5th PM. he may still be the PM today, an UMNO/BN PM, and the course of Malaysian politics over these past 20 year would have been dramatically different, with Anwar regarded as public enemy No. 1 in the eyes of the opposition and there very well may not be a Pakatan Rakyat or Harapan but something else.

These past 20 years have revealed to me at least, that Malaysian politics is a feudal-style battle of warlords behind a facade of Westminster-style democratic institutions, with most intense battles being between factions within UMNO itself, with opposition warlords playing a junior role.

However, now that we have come this far, where to next?

23 Feb 2018 9.49pm

Dr M has no intention of relinquishing his Post to his DPM until UMNO forced his hand and “Lucky” Badawi got the job but only temporarily until Dr M engineered Najib to be his puppet so he thought and thought wrong. Najib the apprentice became the JEDI master. Now even the Dark Seth Lord had to rejoin the Darkside.

24 Feb 2018 3.23am
Reply to  Ang

So who should we back moving forward – Mahathir, Najib, Kit Siang, Wan Azizah, Anwar, Azmin, somebody else or #Undirosak?

23 Feb 2018 3.38am


This writer got bricks in his skull. Dr M reshaped UMNO into its current Kleptocractic form. Even before he was invited back, his influence through his book and his surat terbang caused Tun Hussein Onn to step aside for his ascension. Off course he was supported by UMNO delegates and grass root members.

Similarly, Mao caused the death of 40 millions Chinese, do you blame the party members that supported Mao? Definitely NO.
A leader is held responsible for his actions, no if no but.

Its like blaming the Criminals parents for giving birth to them.

This writer needs a good psychiatrist and be readmitted to Tanjung Rambutan Mental Hospital.

23 Feb 2018 2.51pm
Reply to  Ang

Perhaps you don’t understand the nuances in Ramakrishnan’s article. You wrote: “Dr M reshaped UMNO into its current Kleptocractic form.” Rama never denied this in his article but states that those within UMNO allowed him to do that, which is true, and now they have turned upon him, which is also true.

Whilst campaigning for the 1995 GE, Dr. Syed Husin Ali of PRM said at a ceramah – “Anwar joined UMNO hoping to change it from within but when one climbs into a s***pot, one cannot help but get dirty” or something to that effect. However, after Anwar got booted out of UMNO (not resigned on principle) and formed KeAdilan in opposition, he immediately became DEAR BRADER to the opposition. Malaysian politics is a big load of politischeiss.

23 Feb 2018 3.16pm
Reply to  Ang

And to add, I also agree that the rot which began during Mahathir’s 22 years a PM has continued until today.

Nothing has been done by Mahathir’s successors to rescind the legacies of the Mahathir era with regards the judiciary, the powers of the rulers and so forth which had served as checks and balances to government excesses.

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