Mahathir: Approve or disapprove?

Opinion  |  Nathaniel Tan
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | Back in the good ol' days when I worked at Malaysiakini, one of the things my colleagues used to say about Dr Mahathir Mohamed was: he sure is good for the news business.

There’s no doubt that Mahathir remains quite the newsmaker, even at 92. I imagine he will be the oldest candidate for prime minister in Malaysia.

As he takes up the mantle of leader of the opposition, let us explore some of the questions raised by his candidacy - frequently asked questions (FAQ) style.

Most of the intense discussions regarding Mahathir’s candidacy are informed by very strong personal feelings, one way or the other.

Today, we will start by talking about some of those feelings, while tomorrow we will explore some larger political questions.

I confess, I unfortunately do not have a strong position on whether or not I "approve" of Mahathir’s candidacy.

What I can offer instead perhaps, is my own personal "approval rating" for each factor I believe comes into play. I’ll leave the weightage of each factor to individual readers.

What impact has Mahathir had on your life?

For some, living under Mahathir was almost a "golden age." The early and middle parts of his reign especially, were marked by large government spending that benefited many Umno-affiliated Malaysians, and probably reduced poverty rates overall.

For Umno supporters, this was also a time of unprecedented hegemony, as Mahathir dominated over political rivals from both the opposition and within BN, facing threats only from within Umno itself...

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