Many (except you-know-who) had wanted Dr Mahathir to win the Kubang Pasu election as a representative delegate to the UMNO general assembly. But was Dr Mahathir such a ‘pejuang nomuro uno bangsa dan negara’ (the nation’s No 1 warrior), as visitor Kubong scoffed at us for even considering that illusion, that we had rooted for him?
Well, some did so because it’s a Malaysian natural tendency to support the underdog.
He certainly was one, if we see the staggering resources and efforts (including dirty tricks) to muzzle, interdict and badmouth him, a tridental campaign of suppression of both his views and candidature, a juggernaut anti-Mahathir operations believed to be galvanised by fears of Mr ‘Loose Cannon’ revealing all about seditious, 'sexy' and scandalous business dealings.
But many including non-UMNO people also supported his candidature because, ironically, Dr Mahathir has breathed, nay, injected ‘openness’, admittedly forcefully, in some government dealings or of those associated with top leaders.
Wasn’t he a one-man gang of drumbeaters whose cries of "Bagh! Bagh!" (tiger! tiger!) flushed a young tiger cub out into the open about the latter’s mysterious acquisition of the ECM-Libra shares?
Now, Dr Mahathir wasn’t the first to raise that issue – PAS' Husam Musa did so earlier but then, to what effect? It was only the Grand Ole Man who succeeded in stampeding Hang Putih into some form of ‘confession’ about his amazing 'lucky' karma, and then, a big show of selling off his shares.
Others like Husam Musa who had also questioned issues of governance were arrogantly ignored. Like Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the USS Enterprise, Dr Mahathir boldly (and successfully) went where no Malaysian had dared to go before. He attacked deep into the heart of UMNO itself.
We do need him and his voice! What he did in the past is another issue, and shouldn’t be allowed to deny us of his current usefulness. He asked questions that even AAB had difficulty answering and again, like Hang Putih, was compelled to have a public (TV) session to 'explain'. Could a Lim Kit Siang, Nik Aziz, Husam Musa or Karpal Singh achieve that?
Then, wasn’t Dr Mahathir the only PM, nay, the only Malaysian who dared to confront the sultans where one had thought he was still Malacca's Sultan Mansur Shah with all his absolute monarchist powers in a 20th Century Malaysia?
Which other Malaysian would dare to curb the sultans' legal immunity after the Douglas Gomez case?
AAB? Najib? Anwar Ibrahim? Dream on!
Unfortunately there is no one of his daring and outspokenness, an outspokenness demonstrated not only within Malaysia but as we have noted, even in the international arena. We need that calibre of personality to keep an eye on the current Mat Rempit-ish government!
That is why we need Dr Mahathir Mohamad, warts and all, more than ever!