This time, Najib and Bung not way off about Dr M

Francis Paul Siah, MoCS

Dr Mahathir Mohamad must have apologised many times for what he had described as his “mistakes and wrong judgements” during his time as the prime minister.

I can recall one particular occasion when he did so. It was during his speech at the opening of Bersatu’s first annual general meeting in early 2018 before the 14th general election.

Perhaps, he has to display his human face and humility publicly just before an election as he was then the leader of the opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan.

That day, Mahathir apologised for the mistakes he had made throughout his political career.

In his speech, he said he was only human and was not immune to making mistakes.

“Before I end my speech, I wish to apologise if I had misspoken and hurt anyone’s feelings.

“I, like any other human being, can’t be alone in making mistakes not just today, but throughout my involvement in politics.

“I apologise for any mistakes I had made all this while,” Mahathir, then 92, was quoted as saying.

Well, saying “I’m sorry”, like saying “thank you”, is the easy part. To really mean what you say, you have to think and live your apology.

That is a tall order for many, a prime minister as well. Like Mahathir had conceded, “I’m only human”.

I believe many could also recall that Mahathir had apologised for his abrupt resignation as prime minister on Feb 24 this year. His personal decision to quit was blamed for the collapse of the Harapan government a few days later.

I am unable to recall he directed his apology to who. If it was meant for his Harapan allies, then I have serious doubts that he was genuinely sorry.

In a recent post in his blog, Mahathir claimed that during the Sheraton putsch, he had opposed a plan to oust DAP from the government and to form a coalition between Bersatu, Umno, and PAS.

“I refused to be PM of the Umno/PAS/Bersatu government because it meant I would be working with Umno and Najib, the people I had condemned and defeated in the 14th GE”, he wrote.

I do not know why Mahathir had written what he did. By resuscitating that painful February episode, he had ridiculed himself in some ways. Someone should advise him to stop doing so. It was a chapter which is best left forgotten and buried, to Mahathir in particular.

The following day, former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak shot back at his former mentor and accused Mahathir of lying about reasons he resigned as PM.

Najib then alleged that the Langkawi MP had other reasons for resigning but instead blamed him for it.

Najib pemimpin yang berani, Tun M tak seberani Najib | Politik Terkini

“There are three main reasons why he (Mahathir) resigned as PM.

“He does not want Anwar (Ibrahim) to be prime minister, he does not want to be controlled by DAP and PKR anymore, and he was worried that Bersatu and Harapan would lose badly in the 15th general election,” Najib posted on Facebook.

On this, I think Najib was on the dot. If Najib is not way off, we have to give it to him.

We are all aware by now that Mahathir never wanted Anwar to be prime minister. That is an open secret.

I don’t think it is necessary to bring up multiple occasions when Mahathir’s resentment and mistrust for Anwar were glaring for all to see and judge.

His singular action by dilly-dallying on the handover date of the premiership to Anwar is enough to prove that Najib, and indeed many of us, were correct.

No, I wouldn’t even have to go into details of the leaked audio recordings, purportedly transpired during Bersatu meetings, to know what was up on Mahathir’s sleeves then.

Interestingly, Kinabatangan MP Bung Moktar Radin also weighed in on the issue by reminding Mahathir of his role in the collapse of the Parti Bersatu Sabah-led government in Sabah in 1994, saying that the latter should not be too surprised over the fall of the Harapan administration.

For journalists and editors around my age, the fall of the PBS government 26 years ago is one political coup which we could all remember well. It was brutal and ruthless the way Mahathir forced his might and power against then Sabah chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan and his PBS administration.

In the late 1980s, I had an editorial stint in Kota Kinabalu and came to know some PBS leaders quite well. I could sense how difficult it was for PBS to manage Sabah. Opposing the powerful Mahathir and his BN federal government was a task few would want to endure today.

Many will remember the bombings and violence in Kota Kinabalu after the 1985 state election when PBS scored a shocking victory over the ruling Berjaya government led by Harris Salleh.

Remember your “swim or sink with Berjaya” statement, Mahathir, just before the elections. And yes, who was responsible for “Project IC” in Sabah, an unresolved issue still troubling the beautiful Land below the Wind today.

Bung was correct. Mahathir was clearly behind the move to topple PBS in 1994 when mass defections took place from the party to BN.

“This is a case of what he did before coming back to bite him,” Bung said.

I would even say, serve Mahathir right!

This time, Najib and Bung were not way off about Mahathir. I would unreservedly give them credit on this one.