What Mahathir wants is for Malaysia to be Mahathirland

umar mukhtar

Umar Mukhtar

In the olden days, when the world was ruled by obvolute monarchies, they perpetuated dynasties comprising of ruling successors from the same family lineage who practised governing styles founded by its all-powerful patriarch. There was nothing yet that recognised the rights of the individual.

Then came the Magna Carta, which promoted a belief that rudimentarily empowered the individual over the gobbledygook mandate cooked up by those ruling monarchies. Easily but gradually, feudal practices which held sway over the individual’s and society’s destiny, succumbed to the belief that theoretically, each person has a say and a choice of the society in which he wants to live in. Theoretically.

Then came successive ‘enlightened’ ruling styles that were as varied as there are human beings on earth. Because the mandate were no longer purportedly singularly divine dispensations but arose humbly from some sort of a collective choice of the majority of the individuals in that society. Most called it democracy. Theoretically, human existence was heading in the right direction.

Then, throughout modern human history, came splattering attempts by powerful figures to revert to the old practice of perpetuating their legacies to extend beyond their own lifetimes. They all failed in the end, but it doesn’t stop others from trying.

So especially in this part of the world where filial piety is rampant, we have the Nehrus of India, the Lees of Singapore, the wives of rulers taking over power in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the daughters in Pakistan, Indonesia and it was hoped, Myanmar, and even unfortunately here in Malaysia, everyone who ever held the mantle of power pushed or is pushed to continue their legacies. Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Karpal Singh, the Tok Gurus, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Hussein Onn and now, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

Generally, some of them practised institutionalised hypocrisy, in the sense that they pay lip service to the ideals of democracy, but never substantively, and manipulated democracy to stay in power for as long as possible, in order to have enough time to mould the populace to start thinking of the leader’s invulnerability and the superiority of his genes. And most of all, that under their guidance, the belief prevailed that the populace has the best deal that it can ever get compared to other formats.

And because modern political boundaries do not follow tribal demographics, they cultivate tribalism as the source of their mandate in the required democratic format, while ignoring other democratic ideals like Lee Kuan Yew, and Mahathir. It helps then if they belong to the majority tribe, but it didn’t stop Tito of the former Yugoslavia and Assad of Syria and many others.

What has all these got to do with Mahathir?

It has everything to do with this megalomaniac. After 22 years as our leader, as allowed by our democracy and physiological laws of senility, he wants to see his legacy transcend his own lifetime and prepared the ground for his un-illustrious son, Mukriz, to take over. It doesn’t matter that Mukriz is just mediocre. He feels that the country owes Mahathir the Great and will oblige.

One of the many hallmarks of his rule is the subservience of lesser officials to enable him to be almost a dictator in the guise of a democracy. How he managed that is the essence of Mahathirism – appointing weaklings to major posts, tempting them to be greedy enough to steal and having them beholden to prosecution files, is one of them.

Rewarding inconsequential personalities for personal loyalties to him, and divided and ruled the tribes under him, he used the stick well. His successors were not too apt at it but managed to cause Mahathir problems when he did have to challenge them. He fed the monstrous crony machine with his gravy train but maybe the monster became too big to feed without incurring liabilities by his successors. And guess who threaten to unearth the scam, if any, but the master himself! Damn the collateral damage. Mahathirism rules.

In the meantime, behind the scenes, as the respected elder statesman, he had manoeuvred to place those whom he had thought to be indebted and beholden to him, and the deemed weaker personalities honed to following his orders, to warm the PM seat for Mukriz, so that it will be easy to create chaos and encourage screams for change when the time comes.

With him playing the role of the great equalizer and with whatever residual goodwill he has over the tribe, he would be able to challenge the democratic powers of any incumbent who may refuse his wish to perpetuate his legacy.

Now is the time to stake the claim. Showtime!

We are captivated as we watch his attempt at prolonging Mahathirism, as if we have a democratic choice – that is extra-democratic actually – as he makes righteousness the issue and we are conned into taking his side purportedly to save the very democratic ideals which he had discarded, neglected and ridiculed when he was in power.

A sprinkling of tribalism which he had cultivated also helps. To those of us who are paranoid and have no faith in our own abilities to be discerning, his reappearance in the scene is nothing short of that of a messiah. It is as if we are not up to facing the challenges we are facing now. We can. The difference is we will do it fairly and not so desperately rushed and cluttered with personal agendas. We’ll be damned if he appears the saviour of the country he nearly destroyed.

It’s a pity that for all that he had achieved, he remains unactualised, frustrated and wanting. I guess these are what that is keeping the pathetic old man alive, to feed his insatiable need to be idolised. Make no mistake, most of the stupid challenges we face today are from his doings in over 22 years of Mahathirism.

From Bolehland to Mahathirland, the megalomaniac remains needy. And it is also his gullible victims who join him to cheer him on!