When it comes to our Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohammad, the question remains: Can a once-morbidly-immoral politician rid a country of the corruption and totalitarianism that he himself created?
This is the man that spent his first two decades ruling Malaysia with an iron first – creating the Old Mahathirism: he fired dissenting judges, censored unsupportive journalists, and dismissed important human rights issues; he is responsible for approving the construction of the Bakun Dam that displaced thousands of indigenous people and he is the one that started Operation Lalang, arresting and detaining without a trial any opposing politicians, intellectuals, activists and students.
While many see his return to the seat of prime minister as the miraculous comeback of the century, the truth is he kept his fingers on the pulse of politics throughout the years, always making sure he had wiggle room, through other politicians and through his influential cronies. Mahathir was there throughout Najib’s term acting as a mentor, an advisor, and sometimes a bully. So, the fact that some hang there hopes on Mahathir and his promise of building a ‘new Malaysia’ seems kind of childish and naive.
till now, he has not delivered on his many promises: Currently we have the jailing of a preacher under the Sedition Act which PH promised to abolish in their election manifesto, our backward education system has no conversation regarding transcultural-relations, and we have the sex video scandals, just like last time. We have the continuous suffering of the Orang Asli people due to lack of resources and lack of care, and we have a are love story playing out between Mahathir the manipulative Indian Islamic preacher, Zakir Naik.
The country is still plagued with racial tensions and Mahathir is only adding to it by doing everything he can to win over the Malay vote, even if that means appealing to their feelings of superiority. He has continued to put the idea of ‘Malay unity’ above ‘Malaysia unity’ despite promising pre-election that he represents all, the same minorities that voted for him now feel abandoned. So what is the difference? Mahathir is still acting as his old ways, but putting on a show of being a wiser, kinder, and more just version of himself, the great grandfather to raise our country from the mud, creating a delusion of change, but still being stuck in his notorious Mahathirism.
Any of Mahathir’s groupies will say that he needs ‘more time’ to fix the mess Najib made, but they are fooling themselves. Mahathir is the one to first inject our country with the poison of corruption, Najib just took up the baton. What we need is a real leader. One who wants real change. Someone that will focus on social reconstruction and civil rights. And one that means it when they say they wish to create a New Malaysia.