The return of Mahathirism

Umno's near-deification of Mahathir as a "negarawan" is troubling. The nostalgia for Mahathirism was palpable in the Umno delegates' three standing ovations when Mahathir and wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali entered Putra World Trade Centre's Merdeka Hall.

By Zedeck Siew, The Nut Graph

THE appearance of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during the final day of the 59th Umno general assembly precipitated a riotous cheering. This overwhelmingly positive reception is telling of what the party truly wants — and what a worrying prospect that is.

No doubt Mahathir's presence was a deft political strategy. Possessing the endorsement of a symbol like Mahathir legitimised new party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak. It provided Najib an opportunity to call for reconciliation between Mahathir and outgoing president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, hence healing a feud that has riven the party.

The photograph of the past, present and future premiers, their arms linked in solidarity, served to psychologically cement talk at the general assembly about party unity. But the image can only be really moving if one was a party member.