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COMMENT | Yesterday's unprovoked attack against a 92-year-old man, who was speaking at Bersatu's "Nothing to Hide 2.0" event, did more harm to the instigators than it did to Bersatu and Pakatan Harapan.

The nonagenarian is the former prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The reason he was targeted is no coincidence. He was deliberately singled out because he still commands a loyal following amongst many Malaysians, in particular, the Malays.

The more he speaks, the more Umno-Baru die-hard supporters may "see the light". So, of course, he has to be silenced.

The more Mahathir reaches out to ordinary Malaysians, the more the extremists will be put under pressure. Their motto is probably, "Stop Mahathir, reinstate the status quo of fear."

The most revealing aspect of the attack is that it has reaffirmed our suspicions, that someone, or some people, are afraid of Mahathir. Such is their desperation that they were prepared to harm him.

Many people still consider Mahathir to be a divisive figure. This cannot be denied. Mahathir was divisive, in the past, and in today's context, he continues to divide Umno-Baru, by splitting their loyalties.

Regardless of his divisive character, many Malays still consider Mahathir to be a champion and a father-figure. He helped lift them out of poverty, gave them a confidence that they did not have under the British, and most importantly, he gave them an "identity" and a physical presence. He also placed Malaysia on the world map.

From being dirt farmers trapped in the ulu, hidden behind rubber trees or sheaves of padi, many Malays were given a chance to excel, to prosper and venture into the cities; that was until greed consumed significant numbers of the nouveau riche. Instead of helping their poorer kin, they built their own empires and promoted themselves. Gone was the sense of kinship and community.

We are aware that most of this Malay "identity" was forged under the Ketuanan Melayu brand and that affirmative action policies helped the Malays to progress.

It is puzzling that current senior Umno-Baru politicians patronise us and blame Mahathir for being divisive, then continue to implement the divisive policies, instead of disbanding them.

Why won't they stop the New Economic Policy (NEP) and give every Malaysian an equal opportunity? Why not discontinue race- and religious-based policies, and start afresh?

The current administration is loathing to do that because they will be clueless about ruling a country based on equality and justice...

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