‘Instigator’ Mahathir must step down in 2020

Francis Paul Siah, Movement for Change, Sarawak

2019 will be gone in a few days, and 2020 is upon us. I am sighing as we approach a new decade because it is not getting any better.

In fact, it is getting from bad to worse. This has to stop. And we, as Malaysians, have to stop it before the situation reaches a critical level, if it has not already.

We have been very tolerant of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. We have been giving him too much leeway to do what he wants over the past 19 months.

We took it all in, possibly out of respect and reverence for our 94-year-old leader. Despite our many disagreements with him on numerous issues, we kept telling ourselves that surely, Mahathir could not be worse than his predecessor and that Pakatan Harapan is definitely a much safer bet than BN.

We were hoping, perhaps hoping against hope, that Mahathir only has a few more months to go before he steps down for good. By May 2020, his interim two years as prime minister will be up.

Now, we are not sure whether our tolerance of the grand old man has paid off. Perhaps we have been taken for a ride as Mahathir seems to have gone back to his old dictatorial ways – thinking that he is always right – while others, his critics, in particular, are wrong.

Well, he had also gone on record to brag to the Financial Times last month that “at the moment, maybe he remains the only person able to run Malaysia”.

Let me repeat that a leader’s self-aggrandisement could prove disastrous to the political health of a nation, and this is a cause for concern.

It is important to remind Mahathir again (even if he doesn’t bother to listen) that his interim premiership was for two years.

All of us heard it loud and clear going into GE14. Only Mahathir and a few of his acolytes and sycophants were either deaf then or choose to be deaf now.

Of late, what I find to be a very serious fault of our prime minister is that he has turned into an instigator of sorts. And that poses a grave danger to the core of our survival as a nation – racial tolerance and harmony in plural Malaysia.

We expect Mahathir, as our supreme commander, to protect the very cornerstone of our multi-ethnicity, not to instigate and cause tension. This is what he seems to be most adept at in recent times, and it is worrying.

On Dec 20, Mahathir warned that the Chinese Organisations Congress organised by the Chinese educationist group Dong Zong and Jiao Zong (Dong Jiao Zong) would lead to chaos.

He said the Malay groups would react in a “very Malay way” when such a congress is organised.

“(If) they wanted to do something that is very Chinese, the Malays’ response will be very Malay, (including) asking Chinese schools to be closed. You do that kind of thing (Chinese congress), and you will get a reaction,” Mahathir said.

I was shocked and dumbfounded at hearing the prime minister’s remarks. What kind of warning is that? I consider it an instigation.

The last person who should harp on such perceived feelings of racial animosity is the prime minister. What on earth was Mahathir thinking?

That is hate speech in its very essence. Mahathir recently described the Chinese educationist group as racist.

DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang attempted to downplay concerns that the Dong Jiao Zong Congress will lead to chaos.

The Iskandar Puteri MP said this is providing that there are no “anti-Malay” or “anti-constitution” elements at the upcoming congress on Dec 28.

I think Mahathir would have noted the seriousness of his careless words if Kit Siang (above) has just picked up the phone and tell the prime minister to stop adding fuel to the fire, instead of issuing a press statement in response to Mahathir’s warning on the congress.

Why? Doesn’t the Harapan presidential council discuss criticism against the prime minister or the government at all? Or don’t they talk anymore that they have to respond to each other via press statements?

Mahathir owes Kit Siang due respect, if not a favour, for it is no secret that without Kit Siang’s persuasion and persistence, DAP would not have joined forces with Mahathir prior to GE14.

Without Kit Siang and DAP, Mahathir would just be an ordinary pensioner today living out the rest of his twilight years.

Wee Ka Siong is right to tell Mahathir to stop offending major international powers, particularly at a time of economic uncertainty.

Many of us will surely agree with the MCA president. Over the past months, our prime minister seemed to enjoy picking fights with other countries without realising the consequences of his actions.

On record, Mahathir has offended India, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States and more recently, Saudi Arabia (meaning the Muslim world) by hosting the Kuala Lumpur Summit which many described as “meaningless and a waste of time and resources”.

In light of the diplomatic disasters caused by Mahathir, from which Malaysia has suffered as a result, I keep wondering what must be in the mind of our prime minister when he opens his mouth like a trigger-happy gunslinger from the Wild, Wild West.

Mahathir has successfully produced, directed and acted in many political scripts at home, but on the international stage, our prime minister had better watch his big mouth and his steps, which have since turned wobbly and unsteady, judging from the numerous brickbats for his remarks against friendly nations.

Malaysia just cannot afford to have a leader who seems to be fond of playing instigator, both at home and abroad. He must go in 2020.

As a Malaysiakini reader commented: “How can one man ( Mahathir) cause so much damage to this country in such a short time? We must learn from Britain that the prime minister cannot do what he likes. I hope Mahathir resigns as soon as possible or the MPs can call for a vote of no confidence in him.”

May I add that I hope the day will not come when Malaysians have to take to the streets to demand that Mahathir steps aside.

Mahathir has to go in 2020 and we must make sure that the transition takes place by May 9, the date we were promised and which must be kept.

No ifs, no buts!