(Un)Popular Opinion | One of the most recognisable catchphrase among Malaysians is “Malaysia Boleh”, which literally translates to “Malaysia can”.
And it is applicable to almost everything — sports, academics, and even politics. Speaking of politics, no one embodies the “Malaysia Boleh” spirit better than two-time Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
You’d think that at the age of 97, he would probably be lazing around in a hammock at his backyard while sipping a cup of teh tarik, or spending time with his grandchildren like most folks his age would do.
But like the phrase “Malaysia Boleh”, anything’s possible in the land known to produce the most mind-boggling and jaw-dropping political moments.
Offers to be PM again
In a move that most Malaysians would not find surprising, Mahathir announced that he was willing to take up the country’s top job for the third time “if the people wanted it”.
As for his supporters, they seem to see some untapped potential yet to be unleashed by the veteran politician and named him as their pick for Prime Minister if Pejuang wins GE15.
According to Pejuang’s Federal Territories chief Khairuddin Abu Hassan, they felt that Mahathir was the perfect man for the post as “his vast experience will help build a new Malaysia” and that “there is no better person”.
Looking into his past
To be fair, it’s not difficult to see why a large portion of Malaysians are still so enamored of Mahathir. After all, he did give us Proton, the Petronas Twin Towers, and skillfully steered the nation through the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis which brought many countries to their knees — earning him the moniker of ‘Bapa Pemodenan’ (Father of Modernisation)
But before we start romanticising Mahathir’s achievements too quickly, we cannot forget the fact that he brought about much damage to Malaysia during his tenure as Prime Minister.
Cronyism and corruption took a foothold in the country’s DNA. Operasi Lalang scarred an entire generation of Malaysians and reduced the media to nothing but political mouthpieces. Most of all, Mahathir introduced and bureaucratised fundamental Islamism — a move that is well documented by respected academicians both locally and abroad.
On top of that, Mahathir is also famous (or infamous) for statements that are bizarre at best and divisive at worst. One prime example of this was when he claimed the Chinese community were unwilling to form a common Malaysian identity by using chopsticks to eat.
Of course, this triggered both criticism and mockery from his political allies and opponents, but Mahathir being Mahathir, has not once offered an apology but instead took full advantage of Malaysians’ “short term memory” because after all, he is supposedly the man who can save Malaysia!
Are we ready to see him again?
Political experts and analysts have concurred that Mahathir’s party Pejuang is unlikely to capture Putrajaya in GE15. But as we all know, nothing’s quite impossible in Malaysia especially for a shrewd politician like Mahathir.
Though I don’t deny the many contributions that Mahathir gave to the nation, I do think that it’s time for him to take a step back from the political scene and let others take up the mantle of leadership.
Yes, he commanded the political winds and waves according to his will but that’s all the past now. With GE15 set to be the battleground for the hearts and minds of young Malaysians, no one’s looking to hear the same old political rhetoric that used to work decades ago.
Malaysia is desperate of a leader who can bring the nation on the path to recovery of its festering wounds. And Mahathir just isn’t it.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and does not purport to reflect the opinions or views of WeirdKaya.