A LEOPARD never changes its spots.
Nearly 40 years ago as a young Umno rebel, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad went on a tirade against the leadership of Tunku Abdul Rahman. Dr Mahathir cleverly used the race angle, accusing the Tunku of failing to protect and promote the interests of the Malays. He was sacked by Umno, a move which made him a hero with the Malay community. When the Tunku resigned in the aftermath of the May 13, 1969 race riots, his successor Tun Abdul Razak not only brought Dr Mahathir back to the party but also paved the way for him to become Umno president and prime minister in 1981.
Dr Mahathir is now hoping to topple the current Umno president and prime minister by playing the same game — adopting the race angle and hoping to stoke fear and anger among the Malays against Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Just listen to the speeches he has been giving since the March 8 elections, the latest last week in Johor when he said the Malays were losing their grip on power. At a gathering of some 1,000 people, he said: “If we don’t speak up, if we choose to keep quiet, we will lose our rights and the other races will take over.”
On his blog, he recently wrote: “Today, the Malays have lost their political power and the non-Malays no longer respect the Malays and the Malay institutions. All the special rights of the Malays are being challenged and questioned. And the Malays cannot do anything to strengthen their position.”
The fact is power in this country is still very much in the control of the Malays and will remain so and no non-Malay would dare challenge Malay institutions like the royalty. In fact, the last time we checked, the only person who had done anything against the Malay royalty was Dr Mahathir himself when he was the all powerful prime minister who tolerated no challenge to his authority and views. But obviously Dr Mahathir will not let facts get in the way of his fear mongering and his current goal to knock out Abdullah.
Dr Mahathir was hoping that the Umno leadership would sack him like they did in 1969, but Abdullah has learnt from the Tunku. He didn’t want to make Dr Mahathir a hero or trigger a wave of sympathy for him. Frustrated that Abdullah did not sack him, Dr Mahathir on Monday decided to quit Umno and swore to return only when Abdullah is no longer the leader. He also urged Umno members to follow him.
Throughout his political career, Dr Mahathir is obsessed with only what suits him and will do anything to try and get what he wants. The consequences didn’t matter. Everything and everybody else is collateral damage. Be it the tension that led to May 13, 1969; the political infighting in Umno that ended with the 1987 arrest under the ISA of over 100 people and the sacking of six top judges just as the court was set to hear an Umno appeal case; to the vicious 1998 crackdown on his then deputy and supporters, one common theme stood out — Dr Mahathir had to get what he wanted.
Everything and everybody else is collateral damage. It’s the same with his latest move to resign from Umno and his use of the race card to attack Abdullah’s leadership.
Dr Mahathir doesn’t care if Umno, already reeling from the aftershock of the March 8 elections, plunges into turmoil.
Dr Mahathir doesn’t care that his racist attempts to ignite the anger of the Malays will create unnecessary tension.
Dr Mahathir will resort to anything to get what he wants. Everything and everybody else — including Malaysia and the people of Malaysia — is collateral damage.
He has succeeded in the past. This time, we must not let him get away with it.
Umno and its members must not end up as collateral damage to enable Dr Mahathir to get what he wants. The rakyat and the country must not end up as collateral damage just so that Dr Mahathir can get what he wants. Tun Musa Hitam said on Monday that the era of Mahathirism was over. The people of Malaysia must show in an emphatic way that it is by rejecting Dr Mahathir’s latest stunt and use of the race card. - (The Edge Financial Daily 21/5/08)