Though he has ‘retired’ (wakakaka) for seven years, he has managed during that time to destroy the political ‘life’ of a PM (his politically short-lived successor Abdullah Badawi) and is perceived to be controlling (and helping) that of another, his protégé PM Najib Razak. We’re naturally talking about the one and only Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s longest serving PM.
Since the recent release of his memoirs, ‘A Doctor in the House’, there has been a flurry of both praises of wonderment and criticisms of the severest order about his side of the story – also see my previous posts Ku Li losing UMNO's presidency - a different story? and Dr Mahathir - Malays, Mamaks & Malaysians.
Now Josh Hong adds to the range of articles commenting on Dr M’s memoirs, though Josh qualified his piece in his Malaysiakini column as only a preliminary comment as he hasn’t yet finished reading Dr M's book.
Josh wrote succinctly in his MKINI essay Mahathir’s colonial mind, the title encapsulating Josh’s impression of Dr M’s mindset, as follows:
Most importantly, when the Malays finally found the bravery for change in the wake of the judicial crisis and police violence in 1998/1999, it was Mahathir that was shocked and terrified. Since then, he has been denouncing the people that he claims to love for their “betrayal”, “ungratefulness” and “rebellion”.
I never dispute that all colonial powers prefer timid, submissive, simple and changeless subjects because to rule over them would be a no-brainer. It just so happens that, after years of “racial engineering”, more and more people now find Mahathir's mindset is no different from that of the colonialists. The only thing is that the old man will perhaps never want to admit that.
Ironically, as Josh averred, Mahathir chastised the colonialists because they “liked the idea of a simple and changeless Malay world”, which was responsible for Malay backwardness. But if Josh assertion of Dr M having a mindset which is no different from that of the colonialists, then we have to draw the conclusion that both Dr M and his depised colonialists had shared the same preference for "timid, submissive, simple and changeless subjects" to easily rule them.
If such had been the case, then wouldn’t his accusation of the colonialists be a reflection of his own confused attitude?
There were several other criticisms of Dr M but the one meriting a mention here as well is Josh’s mention that:
Mahathir was right to observe that the lack of a good education had been a bane for rural Malays, but failed to see significant segments of the non-Malay communities were equally in need of it.
In his early years as education minister, his immediate concern was to reach out to poor Malays. For some bewildering reasons, he was persistently unable to identify indigenous, Indian, and Chinese children living in abject poverty. Their numbers might have been comparatively small, but it was nevertheless unjustifiable to overlook their needs.
In my earlier post, I stated that I admire Dr M most for 3 issues. In this post I need to criticise Dr M most for an equal three, namely:
(a) He left the poor nons (especially the Indians) by the wayside,
(b) He failed to apologise to Lim Guan Eng for the injustice done to the latter who was jailed (during his time as PM) for defending an underage Malay girl against the rapacious lust of an UMNO man, and
(c) His current divisive emphasis on race and why we cannot be equal Malaysians (without ignoring the need for affirmative action BUT on a needs basis).