COMMENT | The most interesting thing about Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s latest suggestion is not that Shafie Apdal might be the country’s first East Malaysian prime minister, but the name of his son, Mukhriz Mahathir, has appeared for the first time as a deputy prime minister.
Despite consistent denials in the past, it is clear for the first time that Mahathir had stated his intention for his son to succeed as the prime minister. The latest suggestion had confirmed three things we have always suspected – and under each of these, it is about Mahathir’s intense need for control.
Mukhriz as the rightful heir
Finding a rightful heir has always been Mahathir’s most difficult task since he became the prime minister in 1981. In 22 years, he changed deputy prime ministers four times. Musa Hitam lasted five years, Ghafar Baba lasted seven years, Anwar Ibrahim lasted five years before being thrown to jail on trumped-up charges. Only Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Pak Lah) was seen as submissive enough to succeed Mahathir.
However, when Pak Lah became the prime minister in 2003, Mahathir realised that it was difficult for him to get what he wanted. Pak Lah defied Mahathir’s orders and dismantled many of his predecessor’s initiatives. Mahathir was unhappy with the that he “finished all government money” because of the mega projects, so he orchestrated the removal of Pak Lah, and replaced him with Najib Abdul Razak, which turns out to be a grave mistake.