Why should clear thinking Malaysians not take the opportunity to rejoice and take this as yet another step forward for a new Malaysian cultural and political landscape to bloom post GE12—this time to get rid of all that is vile about the politics of Mahathir, writes Wong Kok Keong.
So, former PM Mahathir Mohamad has decided to leave UMNO until PM Abdullah Badawi resigns as President of UMNO. All Malaysians, including UMNO members, should rejoice!
And why not? Here is a man who, for at least half the life span of independent Malaysia, has corrupted Malaysian politics and economy and poisoned Malaysian culture. Why should clear thinking Malaysians not take the opportunity to rejoice and take this as yet another step forward for a new Malaysian cultural and political landscape to bloom post GE12—this time to get rid of all that is vile about the politics of Mahathir, one who has cynically exploited the diversity of Malaysia for his self-serving politics instead of celebrating and building it into a wonderful whole that is truly Malaysia?
Many academics and analysts writing about Mahathir have long tried to excuse or justify his megalomaniac Manichean politics as though he has something truly meaningful to offer as leader. They are prone or quick to see contradictions in him. But as long as we understand that Mahathir does things only to serve his interests, everything makes sense. There is hardly any contradiction. Today, it’s Bangsa Malaysia coming out of his mouth, and the next day he is playing the race card. Only analysts who think he is deep or excuse his self-serving politics will see contradictions. In reality, he is saying one or the other only to advance his interests.
Such is the measure of Mahathir, and academics and analysts would do well to keep this in mind front and center when assessing his place in Malaysian history. The only bit of intriguing question is whether he is aware or not of the kind of person he is. Even so, he likely could not care less one way or the other.
Some also observed that Mahathir’s resignation is in keeping with the history of UMNO, citing past UMNO leaders having difficulties with the current UMNO presidents. Problem is that, aside from Onn Jaafar, Tunku Abdul Rahman and Hussein Onn left UMNO because of one thing only—Mahathir’s leadership as UMNO President. The kind of relationship Mahathir had with past leaders, and now with PM Abdullah, is actually in keeping with his inability to nurture future leaders and his pathological problems with his deputies. Such a character in a leader is what makes for a dictator. And some UMNO members are unhappy with him leaving the party? Well, dictators triumph only when they are people willing to be lorded over.
PM Abdullah’s public response to Mahathir’s resignation did not show any sign of panic. He was ready to admit the resignation would have some impacts. And while he said he could not really tell as yet the extent of the impact, he gently reminded, instead of harangued or preached to, other UMNO members why it was important to continue to support UMNO. To a question from the press, he rejected outright the idea of having a meeting with Mahathir to talk things over. Really, what’s left to talk about? In short, PM Abdullah was calm, measured and firm.
Abdullah’s passive-aggressive behavior appears to be a good antidote to Mahathir’s alpha-male aggression. It has so frustrated Mahathir all along that the latter’s desperate moves as counter responses to Abdullah only served to show just what kind of person he (Mahathir) really is and why his kind of political leadership is so wrong for the country. Although he fails miserably as PM for not living up to his promises to the rakyat, Abdullah may yet prove to be a match for Mahathir! Oh, how richly ironic that would be.
But, of course, one would be overly hasty to conclude that this resignation ploy is the end of what Mahathir is capable of doing in his contempt for Abdullah. Who knows what lies in store next? But one thing is for sure: whatever it is that Mahathir will do next it will yet again show to be motivated by no other reasons than a self-serving one.
The sooner Malaysians come to accept that about him, the sooner the country will be able to see him for what he is, and move on and forward to a new Malaysia post GE-12.