A letter to Dr Mahathir

LEAVE now with your head still held high, Dr Mahathir.

You had your chance, but you betrayed our trust. What assurance is there you will not betray us twice?

The Parliament sitting which is scheduled for July will mark your 95th birthday.

In your time, you have experienced colonial rule, Japanese occupation, the period of Independence, formation of Malaysia, and the May 13 riots among others.

As the country entered its industrial phase in the 80s, you spearheaded the country over the span of two decades and built the nation into a progressive state.

You empowered the Malay community and necessitated the birth of Malay technocrats as it was needed to balance the socio-economic growth of Malaysia.

You did the right thing.

Today, various landmarks in the capital city and the bustling traffic comprising of national vehicles are indisputable proof of your achievements.

Thanks to you, Malaysia soared high among Asean countries and globally as well. Malaysians are a thankful bunch and despite certain shortcomings and criticisms, we sincerely thank you for doing your job then.

When the time came, you picked your successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who failed comfortably.

He was then made to hand over the prime minister post to Najib Razak, who also happened to be your choice.

However, he successfully turned the ruling government then into a full blown kleptocracy.

Realising your mistake, you decided to correct the situation as you saw fit with the then opposition’s help.

Despite fighting you for more than 20 years, we accepted you and the proposed changes, realigned ourselves, swallowing our pride in the process.

PKR moved ahead with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliance following instructions from Anwar Ibrahim while he was still in prison.

So did DAP and Amanah at a cost that only their respective members truly know.

Eventually, you formed a new Malay party called Bersatu and was given the chairmanship of both the party and PH.

As part of the deal, PH mutually agreed to allot Bersatu more than 50 seats for the 14th general election.

However, your party. whom you boasted as a better alternative to Umno only managed to win 13 seats.

The reality was that Malay support towards your party was not really forthcoming. Your party grassroots were merely seeds that had yet to or were unable to bloom in time. It was only due to the work of the other component parties such as PKR and DAP that had built grassroots for over 20 years that the required Malay support was achieved.

In an unprecedented move and under special circumstances, your party and other parties won the general election under PKR’s banner.

You became the nation’s seventh prime minister amidst pomp and joy from the people, many of whom made the tremendous effort and pulled all stops to vote us into the government.

Yet, despite all of that and with an agreement in place to allow Anwar to succeed as the next prime minister, you were not forthcoming with it.

Various media houses that interviewed recorded your acknowledgment to the deal as well as your apprehension.

The issue continued to be a sore point in the 22 months that you had administered the country that it was brought up again during the supreme council meeting of PH with yourself as chairman on February 21.

Clearly in the audio recording of the meeting which has since gone public, a faction led by Mohamed Azmin Ali and Zuraida Kamaruddin and other members of your party threatened to walk out over the transition issue.

Who then called for calm and allowed you to serve as prime minister until you saw fit?

It was none other than Anwar. You along with all others at the meeting then told the media that the government remained intact and that you had a free hand to reign for as long as you intended to.

All thanks to Anwar’s compromise.

Who were missing at that press conference then?

None other than Azmin and Zuraida as they were already set to oust the very government led by you.

During your reign, one thing remains very clear.

The promise to go through the transition was left in an ambiguous and debatable state, which led to a trust deficit.

The trust deficit that you created inexplicably or otherwise snowballed with others issues.

The institutional reforms contained in the PH manifesto fell through because of your unwillingness to step up on it.

More often than not, many moves for institutional changes were indirectly blocked.

The bucking of this trend did not happen at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The lack of drive led to us being scrutinised by the very same laws that we were supposed to have been abolished. We were criticised by the people for not fulfilling our promises then.

Today, the Sedition Act as well as the Communications and Multimedia Act continues to be misused by the new government to suppress opposition to its policies. We are back to the days when tweets and comments can be investigated at will.

Your decision to resign following the “Sheraton Move” without consulting your partners was the most disappointing to say the least.

It left those in PH in a lurch. Ministers who were eager to continue their work were stripped of their posts.

As the crisis escalated, we remained steadfast and continued to support you.

Even when you took up the interim post, we continued to support you. Instead of solidifying that support, you chose to gauge your support elsewhere and came up with the rather absurd idea of a unity government, consisting of so-called technocrats appointed by you.

You also placed conditions whereby component party leaders such as Lim Guan Eng or Anwar would not hold any posts under this “fantasy” government.

As you were dictating your terms to us, Muhyiddin Yassin pounced upon the opportunity and garnered support via further defections and deals to become the next Prime Minister and form a loose coalition government.

In short, your unity government fantasy failed miserably.

At present, you have returned to the PH table. As it stands, you are without a party, pending legal hearing, which could take years and only have five MPs including yourself for support.

Despite that, you continue to demand for the prime minister’s post even for a short period of six months.

Our questions are:

What guarantee will be available that a handover of power will be made to Anwar after the said six months given your ambiguous nature over that issue in the recent past? Will it be at the cost of dissolving the government once again?

Will you accord or even allow Anwar the prime minister’s position if he had only five MPs in support compared to being the second largest bloc in PH?

Only in Malaysia it seems that the smallest bloc within the coalition is able to dictate other parties on the choice for prime minister.

The truth is that we have compromised beyond our means in your benefit towards realising a dream of a different and meaningful government.

To us, your approach and style seem to be stuck in the 70s and 80s.

The world is changing, we need a leader who is with the people at present times

We have to make brave and confront the challenging times

This compromise has obviously not worked, and it will not work in the future. Just look at where we are now. While we share the same dream, your time as prime minister is up. We respectfully ask that you support Anwar as candidate for prime minister instead.

The decision to allow Anwar to become prime minister will be determined by the people.

If Anwar is not chosen by the people, he can’t then argue that he was not given the chance anyway.

As it went in the movie Dark Knight: “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

Now is your chance to change that.

By James Davidson – The Malaysian Insight.

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