Dennis Ignatius: Revenge is a dish best served cold

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A struggle for power, position and privilege and everything else that it brings.

Bernama

The knives are out! Mahathir is the ultimate target but for now the powers that be are happy to focus on those close to him – Daim and his family and Mahathir’s own children.

Memories are long. Files are thick. Things hidden from long ago are being exposed. Those who prospered from crooked deals and then posed as honest leaders and businessmen are likely having sleepless nights. There’s no telling where all this will lead.

Malaysians are, of course, thrilled. Many want to see Mahathir behind bars. They don’t care how or why; they just want retribution for the damage he inflicted – real or imagined – upon the nation and for all the nasty racist remarks he continues to make.

But this is not the war on corruption moving into higher gear; it’s all part of the ongoing bitter struggle between Anwar and those who are determined to bring him down. It’s a battle for survival. Just look at who is being targeted and who is being conveniently ignored. Those on the right side get DNAAs (and maybe even a pardon); those on the wrong side get investigated, exposed and humiliated.

It’s the way Malay elites do politics never mind all the talk about Malay unity. Every time there’s a change in leadership, the losers band together to butt heads with the winner. It’s a struggle for power, position and privilege and everything else that it brings.

Non-Malay elites shouldn’t be too smug, however. Though always careful to stay mostly in the shadows, they are just as complicit. They’ve always been willing accomplices in facilitating and enabling the corruption of Malay elites. Unlike the earlier generation of millionaires, many of the present ones are the products of crony capitalism. When the Malay elites get tired of fighting each other, they might just go after some of the Ali Baba cronies – to prove the point that corruption is not just a Malay problem.

Some are saying that perhaps there’s an element of revenge in the mix too? Anwar has suffered much – more than most – at the hands of Mahathir and his faction. Until recently, Anwar has been the picture of Mandela-like forgiveness and humility. But as someone wrote recently, you don’t easily forget the bitter years, especially when the person who caused all the devastation is still throwing mud at you. Mahathir drew first blood; now he must face the consequences. Revenge they say is a dish best served cold.

My hope is that this war between the power elites will bring down the whole edifice of politically-driven corruption that has plagued our nation for decades. As well, I hope that all the exposés of corruption and the indolent and hypocritical lifestyles of the political elites (Malay and non-Malay) will finally awaken voters to the fact that we have been so poorly served by our politicians. – Dennis Ignatius