Three jeers for Mahathir

Hornbill Unleashed writers detest character assassination and name-calling. We prefer trying to shed what light we can on Malaysian society and politics, rather than slinging insults at public figures.

Knowing the good is doing the good, we argue, paying heed to the words Socrates spoke 2,400 years ago. The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance, we remember.

So we will not immerse ourselves in the torrent of virtual curses hurled at Mahathir Mohamad in blogs and internet chat-rooms. I would argue that whatever evil Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister has done, during and after the long winter of his reign, does not spring from some demonic possession, but from ignorance.

A friend and mentor was one of Mahathir’s victims in the ‘Operation Lalang’ Internal Security Act (ISA) sweep in 1987. He suffered unspeakable pain and humiliation in solitary confinement in Kamunting for two dark months. My friend, an intelligent and humane social activist, left prison scarred for life.

When my friend was set free, he had nothing but bitter words for Mahathir. He looked forward to the day of Mahathir’s death. He hated the cynicism and cruelty shown during Mahathir’s crackdown on teachers, environmentalists, clerics and politicians.

Mahathir had 106 leading Malaysians arrested, torn from their families and tortured, to keep alive his desire for power, and for his distorted, racist agenda.

Mahathir accelerated the decline of Malaysia’s institutions and political life.

And according to a new book by an Asian Wall Street Journal editor-turned-academic, Barry Wain, Mahathir wasted RM100 billion of Malaysia’s money on financial disasters.