Mahathir must admit his wrongs


Will Mahathir admit that what he is reaping now is from what he sowed when he was the Prime Minister?

Adrian Lim Chee En, The Heat Malaysia

One cannot miss the calls by opposition de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to welcome his (former) foe Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s formation of a new coalition to face Barisan National one on one in the coming General Elections.

Many at the same time, will recall what happened in 1998. Back then, there were concerns that Anwar would return to Umno should he be freed one day.

Before Anwar was freed in 2004, he started working on a multi-societal, religious, ideological and belief opposition coalition, giving birth to Barisan Alternatif that would then pave way for Pakatan Rakyat’s framework in the late 2000s to contest as government-in-waiting.

In fact, Mahathir’s calls for one on one today, is also seen as a mimic and imitation of Anwar’s long legacy pushing for straight fights against BN.

Anwar’s formula was successful in 2013, only to be denied by extreme malapportionment, gerrymandering, electoral fraud and manipulation of the mass media, governmental machinery and instruments and resources.

Today, Mahathir is facing the same circumstances. The only difference this time, is his past doings continue to haunt him, and the person holding a sizable influence now happens to be the man he once victimised.

In the midst of the debate, Anwar called for unity, including cooperation with the very man who once demonised him and his family.

Such act must be remembered as a magnanimous one.

Anwar may have arrived at such a decision by having the people’s struggle and plight at heart. With the influence Anwar has, he could have sought revenge by throwing in the spanner and derail Mahathir’s plot. Anwar chose not to do so.

The ball is now in Mahathir’s court. What will be his next move?

Sceptics remain sceptical, accrediting the cause of the political mess to Mahathir’s political manoeuvre during his tenure, hence refusing to work with him.

Mahathir single handedly removed the independence of the once respected judiciary, then limited the powers of the courts to what is conferred by Parliament in the late 1980s.

He suppressed dissent with the use of the Internal Security Act and made a mark in history with Operasi Lalang, arresting hundreds without trial.

He seized control over the mass media with the Printing Press And Publications Act and suspended multiple news outlets. In fact, only recently in 2014, Mahathir made a U-turn on his no-internet-censorship commitments. He asked for more regulation on the internet!

He tightened the Official Secrets Act soon after the late Tun Ghafar Baba replaced Tun Musa Hitam as Deputy Prime Minister, which many see as a move to hide corruption. Today, Mahathir criticises Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for OSA-ing the Auditor General’s Report, but he perhaps forgot that Ezam Mohd Noor was once jailed two years under his premiership for violating the OSA.

Today, in Mahathir’s attempt to form a new political party, I cannot help but to recall how the Societies’ Act was used to suppress activities of opposition parties. Activists, detractors and critics who tried to form new political parties under Mahathir’s era would testify this.

Many too, will not forget his proclamation that “Malaysia is an Islamic state” at the Gerakan Annual Delegates Conference in 2011. And today, we are hearing him calling for moderation?

Nevertheless, what is done, is done. Some choose to forgive and forget, whereas some choose to forgive but remember. Some at the same time, also choose not forgive and not forget, but work together on the notion that there are greater concerns in sight.

For Mahathir to quash his critics, he must show sincerity and determination in righting the wrong.

Anwar was once doubted, but he proved his sincerity through the trials and tribulation. Mahathir is very much doubted at the moment, and has yet to prove himself.