Mahathir the Disappointed Father

Opinion  |  Nathaniel Tan
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | Over the (very many) years, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed has kept a fairly consistent tone regarding what I suppose he might term the Malay Dilemma - a tone that we saw again during the recently held Future of Bumiputeras and the Nation Congress (KBN 2018), at the Bersatu anniversary, (https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/442386) and a recent interview.

I suppose I might term this tone that of the Disappointed Father.

I have this image in my head of Mahathir, himself a successful bumiputera, looking down and shaking his head while sighing, maybe face in hand, constantly disappointed at what he sees to be an endemic failure of his fellow bumiputera to live up to his hopes and expectations.

We get the sense that Mahathir has a very clear idea of the kind of attitude and character you need to succeed as an individual and as a community, and that a big part of his persona seems to be having to deal with his view that the bumiputera do not live up to these standards.

Mahathir’s favourite counterpoint appears to be the Japanese, a fact reiterated by his recent visit to Japan and specifically named once again in the interview, where once he again he has held them up as the paragons of self-sacrificing patriots whose self-worth is tied to how diligently they can contribute to the betterment of their nation.

He then likes to ask: “Why can’t the Malays be more like the Japanese?”, in the same tone perhaps a dad would ask his kid, “Why can’t you be more like your older brother?”...

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