As expected, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is a vengeful man who will not hesitate to drag in others in defence of all the misdeeds committed during his 22-year reign of terror.
For the second time since he ‘stepped down’ nearly a decade ago, another nefarious act involving him is put to the tight scrutiny of a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) after the Lingam tape scandal in 2007.
This time, Mahathir pointed his finger at the late Tunku Abdul Rahman and accused the latter of being ‘irresponsible’ by granting up to one million citizenships to non-Malays at independence. This, in his view apparently, amounts to a crime far more heinous than felony.
Suffice to say that the Tunku is no longer around to speak for himself. In questioning again the presence of the non-Malays in this country, Mahathir shows the world once again that his ‘valour’ has been completely misplaced.
Blind to history and thoroughly uninterested in intellectual pursuits, Mahathir has been exploiting political and historical issues in a manner that borders on fascism. Perhaps Marina Mahathir, who allegedly never shirks from ‘telling it straight’, can gently remind her senile father that Malaysia is no more a successor state to any of the Malay sultanates, than the People’s Republic of China is to all the dynasties prior to it.
When Sabah and Sarawak formed the Federation of Malaysia together with Malaya, a new chapter was inked, and a clean break should have been made with a past that was premised on feudalism.
But the conservative forces within Umno resisted real power-sharing and equal partnerships with the non-Malays, East Malaysians, and – I must emphasise – non-Umno Malays, and they found a chance to exert an ‘ideological monopoly’ by excluding all these elements from state policies. The phrase “Ketuanan Melayu” may have been coined by one Abdullah Ahmad, but it was Mahathir who gave flesh to the idea.
‘His familiar role of the devil’
Furthermore, what does the history of Sabah and Sarawak really have to do with the Malay peninsula except for the intervention of the British in the form of colonialism?
Personally, I have no problem with the government naturalising refugees from neighbouring countries. It is a humane act to do, and done properly, Malaysia could show itself to be upholding the spirits of humanity. What I am opposed to is to pick and choose whom among the refugee communities that the Mahathir administration sought to absorb as citizens.
In selecting only the Muslims from southern Philippines, Mahathir has practically given rise to massive discontent among the non-Muslims in Sabah, altered vastly the socio-political landscape of the state, and poisoned the ethnic relations there with lasting consequences.
If Mahathir earnestly wants to preserve the Malay/Islamic nature of Malaysia, he should, first and foremost, call for a referendum on the future of East Malaysians, many of whom have felt so bitterly betrayed that they may want to quit the federation altogether. Remember: Sabah was not a Muslim-majority state to begin with, and the people enjoyed far better ties than the Umno-dominated states.
Mahathir’s desperation to save his own skin – with the connivance of the local elites in the state – is single-handedly contributory to the present conundrum.
While it is important to study the history of the Malay peninsula, citing it to justify one’s wrongdoing of the present days is not only reckless, but shameless. If Mahathir truly wants to redress all the historical injustices, he should start by suing the British authorities for having brought his forefathers from India to work in the then British Malaya.
Throughout his political career, Mahathir has been so preoccupied with the issues of race and religion that he only ends up looking silly, sorry and stupid. Since ‘retirement’, he has reverted to the role of the devil that he is familiar with, resorting to race or religion wantonly just to cover up his own transgression.
Having a man like this – who knows not the meanings of honesty, decency and transparency – as our national leader is already shameful enough, but the most pathetic thing is the fact that many have voted for him in the past and may continue to worship him, which is the main reason why he will never feel ashamed.