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The Malaysia that Mahathir left behind - Printable Version

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The Malaysia that Mahathir left behind - superadmin - 07-12-2023

[Image: mariam-mokhtar-column-300x400-1.jpg]

The former prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad is just a spiteful old man. As Malaysia’s longest serving PM, one would have thought that in his twilight years, he would promote harmony and inclusiveness.

Instead, he acts like someone who is concerned with his own interest to the total exclusion of the interests of Malaysians.

At the end of June, he lashed out against non-Malays and claimed that they wanted to “change the name and ownership” of Malaysia, from “Tanah Melayu” to a multiracial country.

Then, in early July, Mahathir claimed that multiculturalism went against the Federal Constitution. He said that Malays and Islam faced a threat from the DAP.

Perhaps, Mahathir needs to be reminded of the nation we inherited from him.

When some Malaysians look at the Petronas Twin Towers, they praise Mahathir for his vision, but what use is this gleaming structure of steel, concrete and glass, when in its shadow, live hundreds of homeless people, and communities of foreigners?

The Malaysia of today is divided by race and religion. The wealth gap is widening. Crony capitalism is thriving. So, how did we get to this sorry state?

The people who lived through the Mahathir era, belong to two groups. The majority wax lyrical about him, and are mostly Malay. Those who despise him are mostly the non-Malays, who were treated as second-class citizens, because of his affirmative action policies.

Mahathir, an avid reader, was allegedly keen on development. His much hyped Wawasan 2020 and the plethora of skyscrapers dominating the KL skyline was evidence enough for the younger generation and the rural people, to think that he was a splendid leader, who modernised Malaysia.

The irony is that Mahathir’s Wawasan 2020 fizzled out. Malaysia became one of the most corrupt nations, Malays did not unite and the nation was torn apart by racialism, and religious extremism.

Mahathir is a man of contradictions.

During his tenure, he preached the policies of “Buy British Last” and “Look East” but unbeknown to all, he did secret deals with Margaret Thatcher of Britain and Ronald Reagan of the United States.

Thatcher built the Pergau Dam in Kelantan, in a deal which involved Malaysians buying British arms, while in a secret deal with Reagan, American soldiers used our jungles for jungle warfare training.

In his “Look East” policy, Mahathir wooed the Japanese, but neglected Malaysian Chinese, whose work discipline and business acumen had helped shape Malaya and later, Malaysia.

The Biro Tata Negara was encouraged, and to this day, the proponents of Ketuanan Melayu drive a large wedge into Malaysian society. This is not the work of a visionary.

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