Introducing the infallible Dr M

MARCH 10 — We should do the right thing. Of course we should. All Malaysians should do the right thing. But what is it? If only we knew.

Hold on, wait, I hear footsteps. It’s Mahathir Mohamad. He’s brought friends this time. [1]

Fret no more, on what’s next. [2]

Why do we — the rakyat — need to think when the conscience of the nation is ever ready to tell us what to think, do and believe?

I’ve always worried about the grip Mahathir has on our collective psyche but the signs are there that the gullibility chart is fizzling.

Yet it is almost a week, and it appears there is not much rigour or gumption in the movement [3] whose members’ age total would exceed a millennia or two at least.

I’m not ageist — I’m no spring chicken — but when it comes from the mouth of Mahathir Mohamad, a bucket of salt needs to be available between sound-bites.

One man always better than 30 million

The declaration was conveniently stated as the people’s or citizen’s declaration.

I’m unconvinced.

The people are supposed to be opposed to one leader’s administration or a whole system?

If it is just the former, then the question will be, will any replacement overcome the persistent shortcomings of the system that Mahathir solidified over his 22 years on top?

It appears — at least in Mahathir’s mind — that individuals in power after him have on their own accord tarnished the country after rising through the laborious, nepotistic, anti-progressive and undemocratic structure in Umno that the longest-serving prime minister himself constructed. If the system was great for you, and fallible without you, then perhaps the individuals replacing you cannot be wholly responsible. Perhaps it’s your doing.

Perhaps it helps if you get off your high horse and admit your own complicity in the matter. Accept your role, accept some blame.

If there was ever a gigantic pink elephant in the room squishing everyone against the wall!

Even at 90 that pride will never bow down, will it? Those below 25 may have no clue how authoritarian Mahathir was, but does he think the rest of us have gone senile? 

Cute question. If Mahathir was entitled to swat away two of his predecessors Hussein Onn and Abdul Rahman, when he was prime minister, how guilty is the present guy when he shows the hand to Mahathir?

It is OK. Mahathir only answers his own questions and lives by his own rules. But if he wants a nation of people to join him in his personal crusade, he may have to tell the rest why it’s their crusade too.

No end game

Constitutionally, no general election is necessary before 2018. Also, there will be no no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat. The courts are firmly with the administration and key civil servants especially in prosecutorial and democratic oversight roles are beholden to the administration. The electoral delineation must be completed favourably to the incumbents and Sarawak election results in April due to lift the fortune of the ruling coalition.

Everything is operating exactly as Mahathir intended it to and now he wants the support of the people with no end game articulated?

When Mahathir loses, as in not heard and his opinions forgotten, the only hurt is his pride. He can always holiday in exotic locations like Zimbabwe to meet old friends, but how about the rest who are asked to join the fight?

The 70 per cent relying on BR1M [4] to carry on buying sub-par supplies at KR1M [5] before paying toll in jammed-up highways on route to dropping their kids at struggling public schools with no destination for the next school holidays except quietly gladdened to pay less for toll, KR1M and dining out by keeping the family peeled on the latest offerings by Astro Ria, what are they to do?

Why would they rock the boat?

But more importantly was that not how the growth model envisioned by Mahathir from the old days? Keep the wages low, compete as a low cost centre. Wage demands grow, bring in indiscriminate foreigners to work cheap, and sustain the low cost centre image.

An economically reliant society’s vote is more predictable than a self-reliant, middle-class filled society, no?

And now the continuation of a crutch mentality is bad, because Mahathir is no more the incumbent? Would that mean, Mahathir would revert to revering a widespread crutch mentality when a replacement he can live with is brought to power?

Besides the cynicism, is it not unfair to ask those most vulnerable — and this is a country filled with multiple vulnerable segments — to get into the fray because the system temporarily does not suit its main creator?

Keeping it real

I want change. I realise that there is no sanitised path to change. There will be costs. [6]

But does Mahathir realise that?

And if he does, can it be something he bears too, not just the rest of us?

Here’s a tip. Of course I am repeating myself but I am dealing with a man and his sycophants who cannot see him responsible for anything negative.

If any declaration works in this context it is a step in a new direction.

There can be no wholesale support for that direction if those leading it do not come clean. Too many of us will hesitate and our misgivings are more than justified.

If the change is more important than the man, then the man should swallow his mountain of an ego and apologise for the past, for his role in this mess.

But I suspect a country is not more important than protecting his own legacy — or version of the past — for Mahathir. At least he’d never be accused of being inconsistent.  

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

[1] Muhyiddin Yassin, Lim Kit Siang, Zaid Ibrahim, Hishammudin Rais, Ling Liong Sik, Mustafa Ali, Ambiga Sreenivasan, Azmin Ali, Mukhriz Mahathir and the list goes on like the old Adidas campaign “Is all in.”

[2] Almost like the time he felt that being both prime minister and finance minister would mean he saves time and paper on how to spend. A rich tradition sustained despite his successors' disdain over his control freak tendencies. See, they learn, even while sleeping.

[3] Tens of thousands have signed the petition. But it hardly matches the credentials of those gathered for the declaration — whose egos would eclipse the collection of stars in the original “USA for Africa” line-up in 1985 when Mahathir was prime minister, Umno without the Baru and Mike Tyson the heavyweight champion of the world.

[4] Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia. Cash hand out for the majority of Malaysians annually. Scaled to incomes below RM3,000 per month.

[5] Kedai Satu 1 Malaysia (notice a trend?) special shops for lower income groups with allegedly decent goods.

[6] While Lim Kit Siang, grudgingly or otherwise sits with Mahathir to avoid missing out on an opportunity, it may need reminding that the two men did not just disagree on the colour of ties to wear at Parliament. Mahathir sent him and hundreds to jail over political disagreement in the guise of national security and cohesion. Political detention is not fun.