JUNE 21 ― I refer to the article, "Azmin, do the honourable thing: Go on leave" in the Malay Mail by Mohd Sulaiman Hakim Shah. Unlike the writer, I have followed Malaysian politics closely for more than 50 years and I wish to share some views as a septuagenarian because it is something I feel strongly about.
Having grown up before Merdeka, I had seen the tremendous development this country had undergone. No one is more responsible for this growth more than one man ― Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
For 22 years during his first tenure as PM, his firm resolve to transform the country from a backwater to an industrialised nation and putting Malaysian on the world map, is without equal. It'd be a long time before we see a man of his caliber and stature emerge again.
Last year, he was again thrust to lead the nation after Pakatan Harapan won the watershed general election. He inherited a nation that needed much rebuilding, no thanks to the mismanagement during the Najib administration as manifested by the 1MDB scandal.
At 94, he had to put up with a schedule and routine that even those half his age would find difficulties to keep up with. Worse still, his Cabinet is filled with inexperienced Ministers prone to gaffes, while pockets of the civil service are still loyal to the previous administration.This is absolutely unfair to a man who ought to be enjoying his twilight years in a more laid-back environment and in the company of his loved ones.
Last year, I suffered a minor stroke and this had rattled me to the core, as I thought my time had arrived. For decades prior to my retirement, I had been putting in punishing hours at work and did extensive travelling, purportedly for the family, but they were the ones I had neglected the most. I had wanted to spend more time with them, but at 78 years old and with the kids living in other states and countries, travelling has become a chore. My health scare last year made me cherished time with the family even more.
My point of this letter is this: it is not about whether Azmin should take leave or not. It is time we should allow Dr Mahathir to call it a day. If you cherish him as a leader, a statesman and an individual, give him a break. Getting him to stay on to "sort things out" is selfish on the part of those who desire to see him continue being in power.
As for those who think that we should let Dr Mahathir sort out the country's problem ― not just the fallout from the gay sex video linking Azmin ― all I can say is that it's time we grow up. We can't be depending on the same Doctor to treat us all the time. It is time WE let him go.
Give some time and new leaders will emerge. There might be growing pains in the interim but we are stronger than we think. The best example is Dr Mahathir himself. When he took over in 1981, I remember clearly the doubts many had over his ability. Eventually, he grew into the job and took the country to another level.
From the bottom of my heart, and as an elderly man who may not have many more birthday celebrations left (if at all), I sincerely hope you will publish this piece. Because I speak from experience about getting our priorities right. Family means the world to me, and I am sure, deep down, it is to the PM too. And for now, we need to let Dr Mahathir go.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.