Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mahathir - Bloggers the last line of resistance?

“For RM200, people are willing to sell their votes. [But] They are not just selling their votes. Dia jual maaruahnya (he is selling his dignity).”
- Dr Mahathir
“Jebat is the rugged individualist, not awed by those who wield power. His loyalty is to institutions, not individuals. To Kassim [Ahmad], Jebat is the true hero, not the prodigal son, Tuah.”
- Dr Bakri Musa

Re the selling of one’s soul for RM200, the Grand Olde Man had alluded to the last UMNO Kubang Pasu election of delegates to the party’s general assembly. There were allegations of Kubang Pasu UMNO voters being paid RM200 to vote against Dr Mahathir so as to prevent him being elected as a division delegate. As a delegate he would then have the right during the assembly to speak out.

UMNO top people were determined to silence him.

Well, they haven’t been completely successful because, as reported by malaysiakini, the Grand Olde Man has been back on 'stage' to describe bloggers as the “only hope” left to speak out on problems in the country. He said this in a special meeting with 100 bloggers yesterday at the Perdana Leadership Foundation headquarters in Putrajaya.

In the face of the current UMNO campaign against the voice of bloggers, Dr Mahathir urged online dissidents to keep up the pressure on the government.
Information is power, and the one who controls the information controls the power. Obviously, Dr Mahathir doesn't want all the information to be solely in the hands of the people on the 4th Floor.

Well, I recall that Charles de Gaulle, in his efforts to inspire the French people to resist the German occupiers, told them:

"Is the last word said? Has all hope gone? Is the defeat definitive? No. Believe me, I tell you that nothing is lost for France. This war is not limited to the unfortunate territory of our country. This war is a world war. I invite all French officers and soldiers who are in Britain or who may find themselves there, with their arms or without, to get in touch with me. Whatever happens, the flame of French resistance must not die and will not die."

Dr Mahathir told the bloggers: “Umno has become completely paralysed. It cannot do anything (to correct itself). The only hope left is with the bloggers.”

“It is for certain that in the coming general election, a lot of money would be spent in vote buying... if the ruling parties do this, we would be governed by a government that is outrightly involved in corruption.”

“For RM200, people are willing to sell their votes. They are not just selling their votes. Dia jual maaruahnya (he is selling his dignity).”

Dr Mahathir has always been unique, whether you agree or disagree with him. Nearly two years ago I posted Mahathir: Unforgetable & Unforgiveable, where I stated (reproduced in full here):

Was it wise of Malaysia's Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) to invite its former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir to give the opening speech in its annual conference this year?

Undoubtedly the answers to this question will be fast and furious, but without consensus. It's just amazing how much emotion Dr Mahathir still evoked in his countrymen. The revulsion for him is certainly noticeable by the boycott of several non-government organisations (NGOs) who objected to the inappropriateness of a man they believe to have violated human rights to open the annual conference of Suhakam.

So engrossed in their revulsion of Mahathir and their frustration that he continues to command respect in some quarters, they forgot to question the presence of the representative of the USA, whose administration has been one of the worst abusers of human rights in recent times, oppressing, killing and dictating its will upon the people of foreign sovereign nations. The US arrogantly violated human rights under the cloak of spurious respectability extracted by virtue of its super military and economic powers.

But such is the personality of Dr Mahathir that to some Malaysians, the USA is but a “lesser” evil. Surf around Malaysian blogsites and read Malaysiakini and one would find there, his personality being tossed around and turn over in numerous ways, with an intent to abuse and crucify him and his indomitable self confidence.

Mahathir has been a ruthless one-man juggernaut as he dragged a reluctant Malaysia screaming into the 21st Century. Anyone who stood in his way was 'chopped' down. He had no bloody patience for namby pamby stuff like, for example, 'environmental impact study' (EIS) or 'public consultation' or any other form of governance processes that he perceived as heel-dragging.

He was determined to propel Malaysia into the rankings of an admired, respected, competitive, wealthy and proud 1st World nation, and by a deadline. The last word in his vocabulary is procastination. Undoubtedly he saw Singapore's progession into a 1st World nation with much chagrin as Malaysia is in reality resource-richer with more potential than the little island nation. Yet ....., and that probably might have been what drove Mahathir when he was PM.

But Mahathir has to cope with a political system that demands ethnic supremacy and dominance in virtually every field, rather than rely on meritocracy and the free market. Even when his relationship with his one-time heir apparent and charismatic deputy turned sour, with a threat of being politically toppled, Mahathir pulled a few rabbits out of his prime minister's hat to remain in power. His unrelenting energy, confidence, vision and loyalty have all been both his strengths and weaknesses.

His energy and confidence gave him the drive to do what he did, but those very virtues couldn't tolerate different viewpoints.

His vision was amazingly acute but unfortunately too advanced for his chosen few to understand, keep up to or implement. “Yes sir, yes sir, all done”, but in truth they couldn’t cope with his vision and drive. They dared not tell him of their f**kups. They fell very much behind, in turn unwittingly sabotaging Mahathir's programme of progress.

Mahathir was thus let down by his generals. But as a Field Marshal he should have selected the best officers to put flesh to his vision and policies. But his loyalty to them proved to be a liability as he sheltered them from falling off the face of the earth. He chose the lame and therefore he must accept responsibility for their inability to perform.

He saw Malaysia through a very difficult period during the Asian economic 'meltdown' with his brand of economic package, which subsequently even drew grudging respect from officials of the World Bank.

Despite his staffing handicap (relative to Singapore) he has achieved much. But the 'collateral' damage along the way has been considerable. Though he inherited the draconian ISA or Internal Security Act from his predecessors, (the ISA being a British invention, and later copied in some form by the USA in its post 9/11 Patriot Act, and soon by Australia) he is now associated as the very person behind the repressive Act.

He is obviously still attempting to ‘see Malaysia through a very difficult period’. And he believes that bloggers can, nay, would be the only non-government resource left to play a vital role in his information strategy to expose the misdeeds of the AAB clique.

(1) Hang Jebat lives again, but ...!
(2) Is Dr Mahathir still relevant?

and as a comparison or contrast, a post on Lee Kuan Yew:

(3) LKY's dual conflicting personalities


  1. Lovely post. Tun M is ruthless in a way but there are so many things to like than dislike about him.

    I shall resume applying pressure. :D

  2. So cloyingly sweet I very nearly puked..

    How come you give this fella a free ride and reserve all your poison for the ex-Deputy ?(now a defacto party leader...)

    Mahathir was DA BOSS you know, and he was such a tough boss no major action of his administration would have been made without Mahathir's blessing...including (I quote your favourites) APCET, Chinese School Headmaster appointments, Ops Lallang, Firing of the Lord President etc. etc.

  3. In a nutshell....a bloody HYPOCRITE in its truest definition!

  4. Madhatir is the very opposite of Mao Zedong, whose legacy has been graded as 70% good and 30% bad. Madhatir is just 30% good and 70% extremely BAD, especially in his choice of a successor.

  5. kk46, this was what you wrote over at susan loone's:

    The whole situation with Mahathir is so rich with irony.

    The absolute government control over all the mainstream media, which he wielded when he was in power, is now the primary means to silence him. So the Internet dissidents, who were his enemy are now his allies.

    But I’m not into Mahathir bashing for the sake of it. He was a man with a tremendous vision, but also absolutely ruthless in carrying out his vision and obliterating anyone he considered as interfering with his game plan. In the process he condoned, even encouraged many corrupt practices and carried out many suppressive measures. But I’m also not blind to the good that
    he has done.

    Malaysia in 1980 was a rural agrarian-based economy. Heavily exposed to fluctuations in worldwide commodity prices of rubber, oil palm and even tin. Our per capita GDP was less than 30% of what it is now.
    Labour costs were relatively low, but foreign investors were uninterested because of investment policies discouraged foreign equity ( compulsory 30% bumi ownership etc. etc.).

    Mahathir was the architect of the transformation of the Malaysian economy into a primarily export manufacturing-based system. It could only have been done with someone of his drive and authority.

    Ah yes, in the process, he destroyed the independence of the judiciary, created an UMNOputra culture of handouts and cronyism, spent billions bailing out cronies who were utterly incapable of running a major corporation, blind to corruption among his supporters.

    I wish the nation can have a PM who is smart, competent, dynamic and also respects human rights, intolerant of corruption and racism.

    Why grumble at my posting of Dr Mahathir as I wrote it? It may not cover the entire aspects of his PM-ship but there's nothing I have posted here that I didn't read, hear about and perceive as such.

  6. I might not be Tun MM's biggest fan but you have to admit that he has (or had) balls of steel. He always got the work done.

  7. Anonymous said...

    Madhatir is the very opposite of Mao Zedong, whose legacy has been graded as 70% good and 30% bad. Madhatir is just 30% good and 70% extremely BAD, especially in his choice of a successor.

    I don't know how you came to that conclusion, considering we never had to go through a civil war, a massive famine and a Cultural Revolution. Seventy percent good? Pfffft.

    Mahathir wasn't all that good, but at least he meant what he said, and did what he meant.

  8. As I said before, Dr.M is now criticizing the very same things that he tolerated & fostered within the government when he was PM.

    He's only turning to the alt media and bloggers as he doesn't have the mainstream media under his control anymore.

    kk46 sure hit the nail on the head...