It takes a thief to catch a thief?

umar mukhtar

Umar Mukhtar

PM Najib Razak’s counter-spin boys have been busy lately shooting the messenger and ignoring the message. The attacks on the credibility of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad have been relentless as if Dr Mahathir has forfeited his right to say anything that smells of corruption.

I am one of those who was and still is a vocal critic of Mahathirism. But that is not the issue at hand presently. The relationship between stopping 1MDB now, and a debate of how corrupted Dr Mahathir was, is almost nil. People are not that stupid to be distracted from the urgent tasks at hand.

But if you want to co-opt Mahathir-haters onto your side, let’s then widen the current discourse. Be mindful that whichever way it goes, it will be an indictment of UMNO’s performance as the Rakyat’s trustees. You want to scorch earth for UMNO, we are more than game.

Don’t be as childish as Salleh Keruak who intimated in his blog that if BN loses PR14, it is Dr Mahathir’s fault for his joining of the attacks on 1MDB. One should not scream warnings of a fire, lest you might be blamed for the fire? Can you believe such idiotic statements. Earlier he said Najib and 1MDB should not be tried by the media. Who is?

We discuss it in the media because the media is an institution of Democracy. The Rakyat can make up their own minds based on what they read. Can they send the wrong-doer to jail? Nope. We can’t even write about it? Wasn’t the BN government doing the same thing when correctly judging the recent Sulu fighters adventurism. What kind of democrat is this who don’t believe in the Fifth Estate?

Okay, if that’s what you want, let’s compare apples with apples.

Dr. Mahathir may have lost billions for the nation. But he ruled. Never taking off his eyes off the ball. Can you say that about Najib? Dr Mahathir lost our money by delving in the BNM foreign exchange fiasco, the push for heavy industry (Perwaja, Proton) for marketing internationally (sogososha, MINCO), by delving in the tin commodity market (MAMINCO), among others.

But they were all with good intentions but may be misconceived or had poor implementation. Definitely minimal hanky-panky and if any, people like Abdullah Ang and Jalil’s murderer went to jail. He took risks as a leader should. He answered our queries. That was over twenty years. Six years for Najib and billions may be lost. Dr Mahathir hands were on the steering wheel for better or for worse. And his wife did not run interference.

Dr Mahathir’s sins were bigger and were not of these common crooks kind. He was responsible for destroying the credibility of our institutions like the judiciary, destroying the independence of almost everything that must be independent to be effective. The negotiated tenders, the lopsided privatisation of what should have been the government’s responsibilities. And he and his friends made some money, some say through corruption. Maybe, maybe not. God knows.

To me he did a bigger disservice to the nation than Najib. YET. And for that Dr. Mahathir does not qualify to bitch about 1MDB? What kind of logic is that? As if two wrongs make one right? The pot do call the kettle black, and a warning cry from a thief is still a warning. As a comparison, Najib pales next Dr Mahathir in terms of leadership, steadfastness, resolve and communication.

So don’t compare please. Nanti macam melukut di tepi gantang. We did not act effectively and in time to stop Dr Mahathir’s draconian ways. We share the blame for the lapse. Now, with this present guy, we still can do much. For whatever reason the ex-PM is helping to press the point, let him be. Maybe to some, it takes a thief to catch a thief.

So we moved from an almost-dictator whose son is a billionaire to a benign-looking Ketua Kampung type who slept at meetings. But he was known as Mr Clean. Really? Let me count the ways.

Now we have someone who is a hybrid of their worst traits as PM. Time to move on.