During his tenure as prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad once quoted Shakespeare's Julius Caesar when he said, 'You too, Brutus?' during a speech to Umno delegates. It was obvious to any student of Shakespeare that he was referring to his then protg, Anwar Ibrahim. Assuming that Mahathir is familiar with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, he should also be familiar with the following quotation from the same play.
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones.
- Julius Caesar III.ii.75
The 'evil' (bad practises) that Mahathir introduced during his tenure took on a life of their own following his departure. Malaysians can be forgiven for wondering what on earth he was talking about when he complained recently about the lack of press freedom. Mahathir would have us believe that while he was prime minister, people were free to criticise his government.
I believe that the attack on press freedom was the most intense during his administration. He emasculated not only the press but also the judiciary. Incredibly, he was surprised that his criticisms of the government on various issues (Proton, AP and the crooked bridge) were being censored. He had to resort to cyberspace to express his opinions because the so-called mainstream media would not publish his comments in full.
Whatever bad practices that he has introduced, the present administration would continue because the 'evil lives after them'. Using the approved permits to enrich his cronies was one of the 'evils' introduced by Dr M.
Why was he so incensed with Rafidah Aziz? When Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that there is nothing wrong in not having an open tender for the RM250 million highway project linking the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex to the Causeway, guess who set the precedent of awarding mega-projects without open tenders?
Such practices were common during the Mahathir administration. However, I don't suppose Dr M would be criticising the lack of transparency in this particular case unlike his insistence on transparency during the row over the AP issue. I think Mahathir should study 'Julius Caesar' a little more carefully; he should come up with more apt quotations. Meanwhile, I have one for him.
Lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
Whereto the climber upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend.
- Julius Caesar II.i.22