April 14, 2015
OPEN LETTER to Tun Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad
by Din Merican
As someone who admires you over many years, it pains me to read about your political tussle with the incumbent Prime Minister, Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak, concerning his administration. It is also sad to note that our Prime Minister has not responded satisfactorily to issues you raised with regard to 1MDB financial affairs, the brutal murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, the Mongolian model, and the management of the Malaysian economy.
Most of us agree that the Najib administration is incompetent, inept and corrupt. But there are some differences of opinion about whether he should resign or stay in office. Apparently, UMNO, of which Dato’ Seri Najib is President, is solidly behind him. Key leaders of the party including his predecessor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Youth Wing, and your critics in UMNO have pledged their support.
Najib is confident he can hold his own against your incessant attacks and those of pro-Mahathir bloggers like Dato Kadir Jasin and Syed Outside the Box, among others, that he can ignore you and allow his supporters to launch a series of counter-attacks against you and your associates. You have been checkmated by a much younger leader and consummate politician who inherited a powerful office from you. Najib knows power and he knows how to use it.
In Kedah, there has been some moves to ask your son, Menteri Besar, Kedah Dato Seri Mukhriz Mahathir to step down from his post. Najib cannot be dislodged from office without a “smoking gun” with regard to various allegations against him. It is not likely that people in his party will come forth to provide irrefutable evidence of his wrongdoings.
Allegations will remain allegations and there is no way you and your supporters can convince us at this stage that he should be asked to resign. In fact, what I see is that unlike Tun Abdullah, he is determined to cling to power and fight those who are bent on his removal. With the levers of power and money at his disposal, the odds of success are stacked in his favour.
Why is this so? My answer is a simple one. You made it possible and are now witnessing the consequences of your craftsmanship. While you were in power (1981- 2003), you were able to create an all powerful Executive Branch, making the Judiciary (with the dismissal of Lord President Tun Salleh Abas in 1988), Parliament, the much respected civil service, the Police and the Armed Forces subservient to the Prime Minister. Our system of checks and balances in public administration was destroyed.
You were also fortunate that there was no internet and that prevented us from knowing quickly about the major scandals such as Maminco, Bank Negara forex losses, and Perwaja, that occurred during your administration. It will be a gargantuan effort to change our political culture.
Malaysians are basically timid. We especially the Malays have been conditioned by Tun Dr. Mahathir (refer to his controversial book, The Malay Dilemma and Dr. Syed Hussein’s critique of it in his book, The Myth of the Lazy Native) have been conditioned to think that we have dilemmas. In truth, we all want progress and modernisation, and shun ignorance and backwardness.
At the party level, you removed promising leaders like Tun Musa Hitam and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who were a threat to you and created UMNO Baru after your own image to replace the outlawed UMNO. What is worse is that you killed democracy in UMNO Baru by amending the constitution to ensure that it would be impossible for the posts of President and Deputy President to be challenged in party elections.
So today, the President in office holds absolute power over the party. No challenge is possible and that, in my humble opinion, is your legacy. You have to learn to accept this for a fact and that is Najib is today the most powerful man in our country.
Najib will use this power at his disposal to check all attempts to force his resignation. It is the most rational option available to him. You would have done the same, and did that before when you were UMNO President and Prime Minister. All those from within the party and outside who had the courage and nerve to oppose you were removed, sidelined, or sent to Kamunting under the Internal Security Act (Ops Lalang). You would not broach any opposition and your actions deformed our polity.
It is time for you, Tun, to apologise to the nation and then right your political mistakes. You must do it now and stay the course in this political battle against Najib Tun Razak. Let us see what you can really do since the odds of success are not with you today. You have become an ordinary citizen like me with the right to vote in any general election. There is little else you can do except to make a lot of noise.