(The High Profile Communal Crises Provocateur)
"Dr Mahathir has a long history of mounting vicious personal attacks against those, including Bapa Malaysia (Tunku Abdul Rahman), he wanted to bring down.
He has recklessly PROPAGATED the politics of fear among the Malays ....with consequences too terrible to contemplate.
His championing of such unworthy causes as Ketuanan Melayu and other forms of Malay chauvinism can lead to an exaggerated sense of insecurity among the Malays which could well lead to an escalation of racial frictions.
Does Dr Mahathir not care that the journey he is embarking on, to serve his selfish ends, will divide and destroy Umno?
Umno should consider itself fortunate to be rid of him.
-Tunku Abdul Aziz
Mahathir: The Great Meddler or the Crisis Inventor?
Tunku Abdul Aziz
Tunku Abdul Aziz is a former special adviser to the United Nations secretary-general on ethics.
Tunku Aziz founded the Malaysian Chapter of Transparency International . In October 1997 he was elected to the international board of Transparency International and in March the following year, he became Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Transparency International. He was re-elected Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors in October 1999.
He also serves as a member of the Asian Pacific Advisory Panel on Good Urban Governance, and is a member of the Board of the International Institute of Public Ethics. He was a member of the UNDP Advisory Panel for the Human Development Report 2002. He is on the Global Advisory Council of Caux Roundtable.
It is too much to expect Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to feel the slightest guilt for any of his more questionable actions when he was prime minister of Malaysia.
His resignation from Umno in a fit of spite has left the nation in a state of uncertainty at a time when we could all do without the kind of crisis that the former prime minister is exceptionally good at inventing.
It must be an emotionally bruising experience for Dr Mahathir, who once held sway over us, to be told bluntly that his tantrums and ravings were not getting him anywhere.
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has made it clear that he has no intention of taking the taunts lying down. He will NOT allow the wily practitioner of confrontational politics to dislodge him from his perch.
Dr Mahathir has a long history of mounting vicious personal attacks against those, including Bapa Malaysia, he wanted to bring down.
He has recklessly propagated the politics of fear among the Malays following Umno's recent electoral reverses, with consequences too terrible to contemplate.
His championing of such unworthy causes as ketuanan Melayu and other forms of Malay chauvinism can lead to an exaggerated sense of insecurity among the Malays which could well lead to an escalation of racial frictions.
Many Malays question the motives of the man who claims to love the Malays and yet is apparently bent on weakening them even further. Does Dr Mahathir not care that the journey he is embarking on, to serve his selfish ends, will divide and destroy Umno?
I am on record in my column in August 2006 as telling Dr Mahathir, in terms more direct than usual even for me, to stop taking pot-shots at his anointed successor and to let Abdullah get on with the difficult job of governing a difficult country that has yet to find its identity 50 years after Merdeka.
By way of underlining my message, I took special care to tell him in the nicest possible way to start getting used to eating humble pie once out of office.
I did not say it would be easy to begin with, but I said it would not be impossible as both Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn had learnt to do it with inordinate charm and dignity.
For good measure, I told him to DISABUSE himself of any notion he might harbour about his indispensability to the Malaysian body politic.
Umno should consider itself fortunate to be rid of him. I hope history will be kinder to him than many Malaysians now think he deserves.
"...For a long while, I thought that Mahathir had abandoned his ultra Malay position when he became PM.
I remember how concerned my non-Malay friends were when he became Umno president and Prime Minister.
But I guess he had not. He has brought back to the fore his ultra Malay stance.
I guess the Tunku (Abdul Rahman) knew you better than any of us.
for reducing the power of the Sultans and your disdain for the royalty in general.
- He hated you
He hated you for being racist. He hated you till his death.
But it seems now that you have let down your guard, one that you have quite successfully hidden during your 22 year reign and in your desperation to remove Pak Lah, you have once again revealed the true extent of your racism, one that you had harboured prior to your ascendancy to the premiership.
Tun, we don't want another May 13. We do want want to become a Lebanon, a Sri Lanka.
We want to live in peace between and among all races and religions.
I would like to believe that Malaysia has changed. I would like to believe that the results of the 12th general election on March 8 2008 had fully demonstrated that we are now quite sick of divisive politics that pitch one race against the other.
Tun, you are being reckless with the future of this nation.
You are being irresponsible.
"... ...It would be an understatement indeed to say that for 22 years Mahathir was someone who showed no tolerance and respect for dissenting voices, whether within his government or otherwise.
Indeed, his approach to governing essentially boiled down to, in my view, three basic rules:
- First, manufacture a sense of insecurity among Malays about the other races so that you can 'divide and conquer.' Clearly, his former colonial rulers were masters of this craft and Mahathir seems to really understand how to work this method.
- Second, don't tolerate dissent: 'it's my way or the highway.'
- Third, if there is dissent, it will be cast aside at just about any cost.
If you look back to any national episode in his 22 years of rule, his modus operandi can be summed up by the above three rules of thumb.
Of course in 1969, we got a preview of what was to come. Back then when the country found itself at a political crossroads, Mahathir took it upon himself, to some extent, to play king-maker.
As the social cauldron got stirred into a frenzy, we found ourselves as a nation at odds – and in conflict – with each other. The opportunists undermined our nationhood in part by manufacturing and then exploiting some of our insecurities about each other. Especially critical back then was the fact that we heard, not unlike today, warnings about 'unrest' and 'political turmoil' because of so-called 'extremists' among various quarters are making 'unreasonable' demands on the government. [Note: here's an example of the 'divide and conquer' rule at play.]
Out of this episode was born the Malaysia that, as prime minister, Mahathir nurtured and championed: a Malaysia in which we were reminded by the UMNO elite, at every turn, that non-Malays should 'know their place' and not question the new status quo of privileging Malays. [Note that this message was often delivered as, to put it mildly, a kind of admonishment to non-Malays and served as a seemingly populist rhetoric for ordinary (non-elite) Malays to consume.]
Indeed, contrary to the NEP agenda, the UMNO elitist DELIBERATELY set up the Malay agenda as a zero-sum game between Malay and non-Malay progress.
No doubt, while the post-1969 UMNO elite did exploit the situation to create a new political arrangement, non-Malays consented to the need for social reform and the uplifting of our brethren who were economically disadvantaged. So, it should be realized that there was a reservoir of goodwill and realisation among non-Malays that served to advance the NEP agenda.
And this is a critical point: despite [not because of] the animosity that was manufactured in 1969, we were able to come together, to transcend our differences and consent to work to build a common destiny.
But the UMNO elite always played the 'race-card' to manufacture a false division and elected to 'remind' non-Malays to steer clear of, and 'not to trample' on Malay rights.
In other words, the UMNO elite chose to legitimate themselves as the standard bearers of and 'natural protectors' of Malay rights!
What was lost in this UMNO - and subsequently Mahathir's – rhetoric was the fact that Malaysians of ALL racial groups- and by mutual consent - had decided to move forward…beyond 1969.
But Mahathir's formula of 'divide and conquer' dictated that the way to affirm Malay progress was to repeatedly remind the average Malay that the threat to his/her future came from the non-Malays. [But notice PAS, with all its emphasis on a Malay-Muslim agenda, did NOT advance itself on the 'divide and conquer' formula.]
And the best way for Mahathir to manufacture the zero-sum message was to frequently 'remind' NON-Malays to know their place in the pecking order. [Of course, by having set the tone for others in UMNO to follow suit, the performances and 'keris waving' at UMNO general assemblies were part of this theatrics.]
Over time, even the non-Malay component parties in BN began to see themselves as subservient; this was self-evident in their lack of a backbone and their demeanour. But why would the component parties in BN care about it?
The bottom line was the elite in MIC, MCA and Gerakan were themselves rewarded out of this newly emerging culture of Ketuanan UMNO. Mahathir simply perfected this 'divide and conquer' practice. (Needless to say, with the acquiescence of the component party elite who were riding the Mahathir 'gravy train.']
Hence, so long as this 'divide and conquer' formula worked, there was no need for much else.
Well, we know all about the SECOND and THIRD rules of Mahathir's method.
Dissent anywhere was not acceptable.
And when challenged, he deployed any means at his disposal. Nobody could step out of line, and if anyone did, the supremo was quick to deploy all weapons at his disposal – even to the point of compromising the well-being of the country - to get others to walk lock-step with him.
We saw this most vividly with Operation Lallang, in his response to Ku Li's challenge of the UMNO presidency, and the Anwar episode respectively.
In each instance, it was 'my way or the highway.' Dissent? How dare they challenge his supremacy?
Since leaving office, we all know how bent-out-of-shape he has gotten that Badawi has in fact marched to his own drummer and not to Mahathir's tune. The latter's response? 'Well, how dare Badawi!'
And, as we all know, our former premier has been preoccupied with undermining Badawi – but with NO success, thus far anyway, at toppling him.
Well, fast-forward to March 9, 2008 and Mahathir's mission of deposing Badawi was resuscitated.
Sticking to his tested practice of 'by any means necessary,' he has stooped, once again, to using the 'race-card' as a means to get his way – this time, to end Badawi's tenure as prime minister.
For someone who has arrested and imprisoned others for apparent 'race-baiting' and presumably promoting 'instability,' it is ironic and disgusting that this person's whole career has in fact centred on precisely such practices.
And now, he is at it again; whipping up FEAR – by manufacturing a zero-sum scenario for Malays by posturing that, for example, Hindraf's grievances threaten Malay progress; just like he did in the past with Siqiu [remember that episode?].
But nothing could be further from the truth.
Yet, this ploy is necessary for him as a way of frightening the UMNO base and destabilizing UMNO and the country, only to get back at Badawi.
Further, using the outcome of the general elections to argue that Malay progress and interests are being threatened and undermined – and Badawi is the root of this problem - Mahathir is again trying to sell us, but especially the UMNO base, the same snake-oil he's peddled for years.
Here's another irony for you:During his years as PM, NO private citizen would have been able to get away with spewing the kind of venom and poison as HE 's been doing of late.
This alone speaks volumes of the kind of 'democracy' he practiced as PM.
Indeed, for many he truly belongs among the legends – the Mugabes and the Marcoses of the world: the legends of dictatorships.
There was no legitimate exchange of ideas and debate permitted in those 22 years. There was nothing resembling a free press, nor was there free speech to be had.
But the more open climate of exchange of ideas now – in a post-Mahathir Malaysia – is precisely what will save us from the snake-oil he continues to peddle.
For we Malaysians - yes, Malays, Chinese, Indian, and all others from whatever faith who want to transcend the politics of 'divide and conquer' and who do care about building one united Malaysia – are more discerning than he gives us credit for.
That's precisely WHY he could NOT accept dissent or openness.
Yet, the new Malaysia affords him this very basic democratic right he denied the country.
And that's the beauty of a more open system; it allows for flawed prognosis like his to be expressed; it even can take fear-mongering like the kind he's now again offering up, but we the people – Malays and non-Malays alike know a flawed remedy when we see one.
And by golly, is his ever so flawed.
Malaysiakini's Readers Comments: Read here for more
MAHATHIR AND TURMOIL
Mahathir was the one who amended the federal constitution to remove the ruler's immunity from criminal prosecution under a special court. Therefore, if even rulers cannot be exempted from criminal prosecution, then why is the former premier not brought to court for his seditious comments in Johor when he accused the non-Malays were gradually taking away the rights of the Malays?
Then, when in Japan for a conference, he went to say that extremists non-Malays were making unfair demands on the government. If anybody else had uttered those words, they would have been classified as seditious and charged accordingly. Then may I ask why is not Mahathir charged for his seditious comments? Being an ex-premier does not mean he is immune to the laws of the country which even the rulers are not exempted from.
The Attorney-General must display fairness in prosecuting offenders who have infringed on any of our legislated laws and failing to do so would give the perception that there are two sets of laws in the country - one for the ordinary citizens and one for our political leaders.
Dr M has gone overboard by using scare tactics to undermine the current government. He is making all kind of unsubstantiated accusation mainly focusing on Malay rights.
He is trying his best to stir up racial unrest in this country by making wild claims that will then result in the resignation of the current PM. He is trying to ignite racial disharmony in this country. You are now trying all your tricks to destroy Umno, BN and the country. And you are now running down everything deemed to be obstacles to your cruel intentions.
The government of the day has to react fast by arresting him under the ISA. He is running wild now and has to be tamed before he manipulate the people to create unrest. He is going for broke.
One wonders why he has to use forceful means to unseat the current PM. Is it for the good of the country or him and his family? Obviously he has much to benefit if the PM goes. Otherwise he wouldn't be so restless.
I see a better Malaysia developing since Dr M stepped down as PM. During his tenure, the rakyat was kept in fear. Every conceivable institution in Malaysia was destroyed during his tenure. Corruption had skyrocketed, the judiciary was controlled by businessmen, education policies saw extreme discrimination and the entire country was running on mediocre gear.
A friend of mine commented the day after Mahathir’s retirement: ‘There is a general sense of calmness come upon Malaysia’. However, that calmness is not to be prolonged by the same man who was in power for 22 years.
Pak Lah must be commended for undertaking brave corrective policies.
Dr M is now going around whipping up racial sentiments again. I remember during his tenure, one of his favourite saying was ‘Don't play with fire’ to anyone who questioned his policies.
He is now playing with fire by whipping up racial sentiments again. Only cowards will take such measures. Can't Dr M see how divisive his ways are? I'm sure the right-thinking Malaysians want a better Malaysia where everyone feel that they have a place on this Malaysian soil.
My advice to Malaysians? Just neglect the old man's ranting and ravings and let’s go on building a great and peaceful Malaysia.
Let us not dismiss his warning of a racial unrest brewing. Of late, he himself has been playing up the ugly racial card in his many pronouncements. With his latest move of resigning from Umno and the lukewarm support from Umno members to follow suit, he is capable of bringing down the nation as a last resort to fulfill his mad desire to unseat the PM.
His inflammatory speeches may be premeditated to rouse the emotions of some nut cases out there to start a racial conflagration.
Then, like a modern day Nero, he will play his lyre and watch the nation burn whiles in the safety on his ranch in Argentina. Pak Lah ought to put his foot firmly down and put away this bitter and frustrated man before he wittingly or unwittingly wrecks havoc to this beautiful nation.
The man will not rest until he has destroyed Umno and himself. The law of karma is inevitable. What you sow, you have to reap. This man sowed greed, racism, corruption and all these are coming back to haunt him.
Abdullah is undeniably a weak and soft leader but certainly he is more human than TDM. TDM will do anything and everything to destroy his enemies, like what he did to Anwar Ibrahim.
At the age of 82, most people would turn to God and repent for their misdeeds in life but Mahathir is committing more and more sins. Bilakah anda akan taubat wahai Tun Dr Mahathir?
A man who was trusted to lead the nation for 22 long years is today going around the nation planting seeds of racial discontentment.
Mahathir knows very well, that whatever he preaches to the Malay community will eventually reach the ears of the others, thus creating more racial tension and now he warns of unrest amid political turmoil. He is blaming Abdullah for everything that’s happening in the country to his weak leadership. He will eventually burn the house to kill the mosquito.
Dr M should be arrested under ISA urgently. I thought only BN is playing the racial card as they are politically bankrupt, but Dr M is fanning the racial sentiment which is more dangerous.
Sadly to say, our government is so corrupt that they don't even dare to mention the word ‘corrupt"’ in parliament as it is seen as shooting at one’s own foot. The only issue they can talk about is either racial or sexist origin.
Param Cumaraswamy's suggestion to arrest Dr M under ISA, though intriguing, alludes to how laws are enforced in Malaysia. It is never about the knowing, it is always about the doing. This gap is also known as one's ‘rice bowl’.
Authorities dispense justice swiftly when it is against the lowly. The very same authority also swiftly dispense away with justice with it is against the mighty. Some even get away with murder, quite literally. This is a sure-fire recipe for God to rain down curses on the nation.
We all know some are just more equal than others. Dr M will not be arrested, ‘rice bowls’ being the key reason. The only thing left is to wait for God Almighty to do His thing.
The claim of possible unrest by Dr Mahathir is clearly his own fabrication and it is his plan to actually arouse such a threat of unrest.