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It would be an insult if Mahathir plays PM-maker or returns as third-time PM

Time to ride into the sunset?

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Is the country so bankrupt of able leadership that we cannot find a worthy individual to lead the country during this season of deep-seated crises, JD Lovrenciear wonders.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad has repeatedly failed in his apparently self-appointed role of influencing who the next prime minister should be.  

Let’s do a quick recap. 

Musa Hitam, deputy prime minister in the 1980s, could not succeed Mahathir as PM, due to differences. He was replaced as Mahathir’s deputy n 1986.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah came close to unseating Mahathir in the Umno leadership election in 1987. 

Anwar Ibrahim was not only robbed of the prime minister’s seat in 1998, but he was also severely punished with prison terms, not to mention slanderous public humiliation.

Mahathir then picked Abdullah Badawi as his deputy and anointed successor in 1999. But what happened? Let’s not deny Mahathir had a hand in Abdullah’s removal in 2009. 

Mahathir ensured that Najib Razak would be PM that year – a move he said was an act of gratitude for Najib’s late father and Malaysia’s second Prime Minister, Abdul Razak Hussein. Razak had encouraged Mahathir, whom Umno had ousted in 1969, to return to the party and appointed him as education minister in 1974. 

But in 2018, Mahathir played a big role in toppling Najib, who landed up in public disgrace. 

Yes, the two men Mahathir had nudged to the prime minister’s post – Abdullah and Najib – failed, the latter convicted in court. 

Now, Anwar is back in probably his last attempt to meet the people’s aspirations. 

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Many believe Mahathir will once again have a say in who becomes prime minister.  If so, Anwar’s determined efforts will be hindered. 

Some also speculate Mahathir may be busy trying to see if Razaleigh could be his choice for PM – though Mahathir himself has denied he is backing any candidate.

In hindsight, the backdoor coup of February 2020 bears the mark of Mahathir’s brand of Machiavellianism.

After all, Mahathir appears to believe in the politics of the ends justifying the means.

Is there no one else who can lead?

Mahathir’s repeated offers to step in again as PM to “save the country” if “that is what the people want” reinforces the speculation that he may not be content with merely having a say in who would be the next PM. His supporters are rallying behind him again. 

Mahathir was much respected in decades past. Much later, even after many had criticised his policies, they still gave him a second chance in 2018. This was borne out of a national determination to oust Malaysia’s race-based regime, which had been embroiled in mega-corruption scandals.

Today, amid the political mess – often ascribed to Mahathir’s “I will do it my way” mantra – we hear he might want to return for a third stint as PM to lead the nation out of this great impasse. 

To yield to his offer would be an insult to this nation. Is the country so bankrupt of able leadership that we cannot find a worthy individual to lead the country during this season of deep-seated crises?

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Will Anwar be worse than the backdoor government we have now? Are his alleged sexual preferences worse than the many cases of big-time corruption, which has ruined the good name of the country in the eyes of the world?

Why must Mahathir then return as PM – again? The widely shared sentiment among the people is he has failed to even live by his own prescription of never overstaying your welcome. 

Sad, very sad. Many of us who stood by Mahathir despite deep-seated reservations in 2018 are now being taunted by a motley band of followers who want him back as PM. 

It looks as if it is going to be a long sunset. 

Politicians are weakening the nation

Not only is the coronavirus yet to run its full course, hurting economies and threatening the health of people across the world, some Malaysian politicians have joined in the act.  

Never have we witnessed so much power brokering, divisiveness and absence of concerted efforts to govern our nation as we have seen over the past nine months. 

Ever since Mahathir, during his second stint as PM from May 2018 to February 2020, signalled that his Pakatan Harapan would not uphold the coalition’s manifesto, the country has been sliding. 

If the political coup in February was not enough, we have witnessed how politicians have not batted an eyelid in suggesting by their actions that they cannot work together to better the nation.  

The economy is sliding, many are suffering without jobs, businesses are failing, and the cost of living is spiralling. At some point, the social construct could burst. It does not need a political sociologist to tell you this – the signs are there.

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As the politicians battle it out, some of them are capitalising on the systemic cracks appearing in politics, the socioeconomic fabric and the environment. 

It appears there is no one in a leadership position able to say “enough is enough” and rein in the powers that be, to ensure peace, progress and harmony for all the people.  

Many ordinary people are fed up with all this politicking and the proclamations of wanting to “save the country”. People’s trust in politicians has plunged into negative territory. Suspicions are running high while corruption remains rife. In such a debilitating political environment, the government can hardly focus and instead appears confused. 

At a time when world economies are teetering on the brink of collapse, when superpowers are edging closer to direct confrontation, and when we do not know how long this pandemic will last, here in Malaysia, the tussle for power and the spoils that come with it – under the cover of party politics and “saving the nation” – is ruining the nation.  

What can people who truly care for each other and the nation’s future do? Will we be systematically reduced to total helplessness? Where then rests our beacon of hope? 

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