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ADUN SPEAKS | Daughter's narrative won't exonerate Mahathir's leadership

ADUN SPEAKS | I never really thought that the former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohammed’s daughter Marina Mahathir would write a book about him.

I really don’t know what the objective is for the book that may soon be officially launched. However, the excerpts suggest that the narrative seem to exonerate Mahathir as a family man and a leader with vision but who was betrayed.

I can understand Marina’s love for her father, Mahathir, and her family. Since her father is no more in power, maybe she decided to put a family touch on the difficulties that Mahathir underwent as the prime minister, the stress he had to put up with and the toll on his heart that eventuated in a surgery.

Mahathir comes off as a loving father, a strict disciplinarian and a person who would brook no nonsense.

The trip to the island of Langkawi before the 2018 general election was a scary one. Whether it was sabotage or something else, Mahathir nearly did not make it to Langkawi.

Sheraton Move betrayal 

The highlight of the excerpts was the Sheraton Move that led to the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government.

Marina absolves the role of her father by putting the blame on those in PKR, the breakaway faction and those in Bersatu. It was this move that resulted in the resignation of Mahathir.

Marina does not mince her words in calling the Sheraton Move the betrayal of her father, the then prime minister.

These excerpts coming from Marina paints her pictures of her father - a person dedicated to the well-being of the country and the family.

He resigned as the prime minister as a result of a betrayal by those who he trusted and promoted.

Toll of power

Marina’s excerpts, a bit disjointed, until I am able to read her book, is a classic attempt to exonerate her father from the allegations of misdeeds.

His struggle with health leading to heart surgery and recuperation are attempts to show the toll that stress had on him. 

But Mahathir was the author of his own stress. Stress or anxiety cannot explain why he removed and imprisoned Anwar Ibrahim, his former deputy. The Reformasi movement challenged the dictatorial ways of Mahathir.

Anwar Ibrahim and Wan Azizah Wan Ismail during the Reformasi movement in 1998

Mahathir had done more damage to the country than any other prime minister. It was his way or the highway. He was well known for ethnic extremism.

What mattered to him was the well-being of the Malays, but the pro-Malay policies ironically ended up benefiting a small sector of the Malays, particularly Umno leaders and their families.

Not that his children came up the hard way, they were too the beneficiaries of the system. Whether the poor and ordinary Malays benefitted or not is a different story.

But the constant narrative of the need to catch up with the non-Malays particularly the Chinese, brought up racial and religious tensions. These racial and religious tensions ensured the accumulation process of the Umno leaders, their families and cronies unimpeded.

Indians paid the price

Although he is a person of Indian origin, he hid his past to prove that he is more Malay than a Malay. It was more than the need to prove, his attempts to remove his links to “Indianess” meant undertaking extreme pro-Malay/Muslim policies and initiatives at the expense of the legitimate rights of Chinese and Indians.

Indians particularly suffered during the two terms while in office. I have my doubts that conscious members of the Indian community will ever forgive him for depriving them of their rights and opportunities.

He ensured that the non-Malay leadership would remain subservient and servile to him and Umno.

It was during his time that the non-Malays ceased to be an important factor in Malaysian politics.

Invisible hand

Those behind the Sheraton Move might be the traitors to the Harapan coalition, but who harboured and nourished them?

Marina must be honest and not pretend that Mahathir was the unfortunate victim. As I have said earlier many times, it was primarily Mahathir who made the Sheraton Move possible. He might not be involved in the actual process but his invisible hand was there.

In Harapan, Mahathir was never comfortable with PKR and DAP. It was he who vehemently opposed Anwar to succeed him. It was he who foiled the transition plan of Harapan. It was his second revenge on Anwar.

He reduced the Harapan parties to nothing in his administration. It was he who encouraged the racist forces to undermine Harapan.

Ex-PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Just imagine what kind of leader will officiate the Malay Dignity Conference where insults were hurled against the non-Malays. Mahathir not only officiated the event but encouraged the forces of the racial and religious division.

His daughter might not see everything, but surely she cannot miss how her father undermined the tenuous relationship between the races.

It was Mahathir who gave political sanctuary to the controversial Muslim preacher Zakir Naik from India. He tolerated and condoned his activities in defiance of India’s attempts to extradite Zakir for terrorist activities in India and elsewhere.

Marina can do all the whitewashing of her father. She should just remember that there is another sinister dark side to him. 

A large segment of Malaysians cannot forget his treacherous role in undermining the fragile race relations in the country. It was this Mahathir who once said that there might be a need to stop the education of the non-Malays to ensure Malay education.

There is no change in the attitude of Mahathir from the days when he wrote the Malay Dilemma. I cannot wait to read the full text of Marina’s drivel about her father and hero, Mahathir.

P RAMASAMY is Perai assemblyperson and Penang deputy chief minister II.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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