Mariam Mokhtar: Neither Mahathir nor Anwar Should Be Next PM

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They are equally bad for the country in their respective ways.

Former PM, Mahathir Mohamad and his former deputy, Anwar Ibrahim are from the original Umno. They are of the old guard. They are past their prime. They have no new ideas for a new generation of Malaysians living in 21st Century Malaysia, which is dictated by the after-effects of a Coronavirus pandemic.

Their diehard band of followers believe that showing support for Mahathir will invariably mean showing disrespect for Anwar. Likewise, showing support for Anwar will preclude loyalty to Mahathir.

Their followers are stuck in a rut and the rakyat will be forced to choose one or the other. We want to think in terms of the nation, but will the Mahathir and Anwar enmity allow us this freedom? Loyalty, like respect, should be earned. Do their supporters understand this?

Who is better?

Who is better? Mahathir or Anwar? Neither. They are equally bad for the country in their respective ways. Mahathir was given the mandate to clean-up the nation, but he dithered. He was alright for three months, then slipped back to his old ways. One wonders why.

If the MPs had just focused, we could have judged their performance to evaluate them for re-election in GE-15. They have also failed us. They should have censured Mahathir, but many probably thought of their own positions. So, it is daft to call Mahathir selfish. If he is selfish, what does that make the politicians who served themselves? Charitable?

Naturally, the decades-old Mahathir and Anwar rivalry was bound to resurface sooner or later. Mahathir thwarted Anwar’s plans to be PM, but Anwar has only himself to blame. He behaved like a spoilt teenager on a hormone trip, with his incessant pestering to force Mahathir to step down.

If only Anwar had transformed Port Dickson (PD) as he promised when he went on the hustings during his by-election. The transformation was to be done with help from the AirAsia boss, Tony Fernandes.

What do the people of PD think of Anwar now? Are they happy with their MP? Have the beaches been cleaned up? Have the sewage problems gone? Has the arrested construction and development of the area, resumed? Has PD been given a new lease of life?

If he had done all that, the rakyat would have said, “Anwar has delivered his promise. He should be PM.” No other recommendation would have been necessary. Triggering the PD by-election, by forcing the former PD MP’s resignation, was a selfish move.

Anwar’s incessant “When will I be PM?” is annoying. After PH won GE-14, the rakyat wanted the corrupt to be punished. Now, we do not know what will happen to the various charges and if those who are awaiting trial will be found guilty.

We knew that the country was in bad shape, and that our national debt was RM1 trillion. We just wanted PH to steer the economy back into shape and put many things right.

Yes, we are aware that Mahathir sowed the seeds of many of the problems which have emerged since his first tenure as PM.

Remember how Anwar called the progressive Malays “Super Liberals” in September 2018? He also appealed to the conservatives in an act of supreme irony when he claimed that the LGBTs were demanding same-sex marriage. They were not.

Some of the rakyat think that Anwar is the answer to our problems. He is not.

We are also responsible for our problems. During Mahathir’s first tenure, discriminatory and affirmative action policies were pushed through with few objections from the Malays, or Umno-Baru. Anwar was part of Mahathir’s Cabinet. Mahathir handpicked Anwar from ABIM to give an Islamic twist to Umno in his effort to counter PAS which was gaining political ground.

Today, many Malays have developed a fear of crosses, dogs, pigs and red lanterns. Many of them think that speaking English is unpatriotic. As Education Minister in the 1980s, Anwar renamed Bahasa Malaysia to Bahasa Melayu and alienated the non-Malays.

We are the product of our politicians’ machinations. Today, some people claim that Mahathir is the cause of all our problems and that he should go. Yes, he underperformed during his second tenure. He was given a second chance, but he blew that too.

Successive PMs did not reverse Mahathir’s wrongdoings

Instead of complaining that Mahathir is the cause of all the evil, why can’t people see that successive PMs did nothing to end the policies Mahathir started. Badawi was ineffective, whilst Najib Abdul Razak simply perfected Mahathir’s bad policies.

I don’t have to remind you about Muhyiddin Yassin’s PN administration.

Neither Mahathir nor Anwar should be the next PM. A new leader will emerge who will unite Malaysians, not just the Malays. – Rebuilding Malaysia