Wise Old Man or Running Amok?

Partyforumseasia:  Dr Mahathir Mohamad does not look his age of 92, and the unrelenting campaign he is leading against Prime Minister Najib Razak seems to invigorate and energise him even more. During his 22 years (1981 – 2003) Mahathir nowas Prime Minister he was not known for being too choosy with policies and actions against competitors and the opposition. His training background as a medical doctor was often used to explain the surgical precision of his shrewed and decisive political maneuvres.
Controversial as his tenure was on the one hand, Malaysia’s economic progress during the Mahathir years remains undisputed on the other. Some projects have seen less than lasting success, like the creation of a home-grown car industy, the Proton Saga, but under his supervision Malaysia has seen enormous growth and modernization.
Politically, the racial imbalance of the country had led to affirmative action in favor of the Malay population long before Mahathir, but he refined the system in a way that secured the dominance of his UMNO party until today.
After engineering the ouster of his immediate successor, Abdullah Badawi, in 2009, Mahathir has now turned against Prime Minister Najib Razak. He left UMNO and founded a new Malay party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) in January 2017.
For such a young party, the organizational progress is impressive. According to one of the leading internal political analysts of Malaysia, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, head of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) and at the moment reseach fellow at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, PPBM has established divisions in 137 out of 165 parliamentary constituencies in Peninsular Malaysia, and about 200.000 membership applications of predominantly younger people. See Wan Saiful’s latest analysis in Singapore’s Straits Times on 1 January (LINK).
PPBM, translated as Malaysian United Indigenous Party, is eyeing the Malay core voters, who, so far, have been voting for the ruling UMNO or its Islamist competitor PAS. The question is, of course, whether the unhappiness with the prevailing level of money politics and corruption can divert traditional UMNO supporters, who are not close to the PAS fundamentalists either, into voting for PPBM in the upcoming election due by August. Mahathir’s role as opposition leader is curtailed by the co-operation with the predominantly Chinese Democratic Action Party, which has been successfully defamed as anti-Malay and anti-Islam by UMNO propaganda.


Prime Minister Najib Razak

UMNO, however, does not take its victory for granted, and is setting everything in motion to weaken all the splintered opposition forces which it had already seen as toothless with former leader Anwar Ibrahim in prison and by getting closer to PAS which has left the opposition coalition. The newest re-delineation of constituency boundaries shows that the old gerrymandering tricks are being refined again. Malaysia’s level of malapportionment is rather unique and still growing.
For Mahathir the fight is more than uphill, but his energy at the age of 92 is remarkable, and his charisma and image are still working some magic and pulling the crowds. His determination to topple the Prime Minister might convince more voters than the polls predict by now that the UMNO system is detrimental for the country. But Najib and his cronies can be expected to do more than it needs to defend their dominance and the financial network.


3 thoughts on “Wise Old Man or Running Amok?

  1. The Malay community realize that UMNO has become an organization of the corrupt. That within those ‘special privileges’ Bumiputras there is a division-those who support UMNO and those who do not resulting is disaffection within the Malay community. Having said that the Malay population, so used to handouts are afraid to accept any new party that may jeopardize their position. Malays have been depended on government handouts since 1970s.

    If real change is to take place-it has to be now, and Mahathir Mohamed must be the answer. Malaysia has become a corruption HUB. The quality of life and the cost of living has become so bad that many Malays are complaining openly( Sheila Majid). Question is whether Najib will allow a smooth transition in the event UMNO falls in the next elections or would he like his father trigger riots as in 1969 to consolidate the Malay -Muslim base blaming the Non-Malay for the country’s woes.

  2. I dont liked him already when Dr.M was in charge sone decades ago and his politics too was lousy.

    I think we should have no President on earth older than 55 years ? As he should see the results of his doing ?
    Also I am convinced no person should be in charge in government for something without kids ?
    They should have someone very near to them which hold them responsible and accountable.

  3. The Malay/Muslim majority have been very comfortable with their ‘special privileges’ ( purportedly labelled affirmative action) for more than 60 years-the civil service is the largest employer of bumiputras, scholarships,shares, university entrance, land are freely distributed to the majority population to vote UMNO. UMNO has used these incentives to consolidate their position.Additionally, besides handouts, UMNO claims to be the steward of the Malay nationalism and Islam. So previously, UMNO was confident of winning with the crony MCA and MIC among other BN component parties.
    This coming elections will be different, as the opposition will beat UMNO- why? The Malay majority are unhappy-dissatisfied. They realize UMNO has its favourite Bumiputras-Malay community. Malays are going to jail, they are watching some Malays-making millions and lining their pockets. The Malays are witnessing that UMNO is not an Islamic guardian but “haram”, a society that even Mahathir and many others openly declare as corrupt.

    This elections will be a shocker! The Malay opposition will won overwhelmingly with scandals like FELDA, 1MDC, are openly discussed by Malay society. The quality of life has collapsed, murders,robberies are rampant-every government department is corrupted. Security is a main concern. China is now being the landlord of the Malay community.

    The opposition will win this elections-the majority Malay have had enough. But whether they will govern Malaysia is another question..Najib’s father-triggered race riots with the help of the then MD of Selangor, declared emergency,dismantled democratic institutions and placed many opposition members in jail to hold on to power-this may be the scenario in the next elections. ASEAN by itself is a gallery of rogues that dont believe in democracy.

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