Mahathir and Ku Li–Failed Leaders in the same pea pod

March 15,2016

Mahathir and Ku Li–Failed Leaders in the same pea pod

By Koon Yew Yin

Over the past 10 years I have written a great deal about national politics and the country’s leadership. In particular I have focused on our Prime Ministers in response to the policies they initiated and the way they have managed the key issues and challenges of our multi-racial society and developing economy.

Besides writing about Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah Badawi and Najib Razak, I have also written extensively on two political figures who could have become Prime Ministers but never quite made it: Anwar Ibrahim and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, also known as Ku Li.

My view of Mahathir has not been charitable: in fact, it will be considered unkind. Most Malaysians, including a majority of Malays today, will agree with me that he is a failed leader who has let down the country badly.

Malaysians of my generation, with longer memories than the current generation, who know of the stability, harmony and prosperity that we enjoyed, as well as experienced the high standards of governance inherited from the British, see the son of Mohamad Iskander Kutty, Mahathir, as the principal cause of our badly dysfunctional economy and society.

The worst legacy of the man regarded as “Bapa Malaysia” by such groups as Perkasa lies not in the form of his cock-ups such as Proton, MAS, Perjawa Steel, and not even in the cronies he favoured, resulting in a disproportionate proportion of the country’s wealth being held by a few.

Perwaja Steel, MAS and even Proton can be erased from the books overnight. Cronies can be compelled to renegotiate their contracts so that national interests are protected.

His legacy is actually the dominant party, Umno, which runs the country and which Mahathir has shaped into a right-wing, Ketuanan Melayu party which has placed Malay special interests above all else.

UMNO is the nation’s bully having  destroyed many of our important institutions such as the judiciary, while sponsiring cronyism, impoverishing our economy, and undermining many of our basic rights and freedoms.

Mahathir is the man who nurtured this bully to what it has become today: an oppressive and irresponsible grouping of UMNO-putras functioning like a baby’s alimentary canal with a healthy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.

Imagine my surprise therefore to read of Mahathir’s resignation from the party he helped transform into a party of patronage and pirates.

When the news reached me, I had emailed friends the following note: I see Dr M has resigned from UMNO. I now have some respect for him and I lost my respect for Tengku Razaleigh.

Since then he has become the main figure in the unveiling of the Citizens’ Declaration which is aimed at getting rid of the current Prime Minister.

There is some talk of broad political reform in the document. But in his latest speeches, it looks like Mahathir does not think there is much wrong with UMNO and he is apparently waiting to return to UMNO the moment Najib leaves the scene.

If that happens, I will have to withdraw my initial reaction of having some respect for Mahathir. I hope that Mahathir gives up completely on UMNO and helps the opposition come to power. That way, he will atone for the mistakes he has made and leave a positive legacy.

Ku Li’s disappearing golden principles

As for Ku Li, I and many of my colleagues had high hopes for him, especially after he came out with his own declaration in the form of Ten Golden Political Principles delivered in an address to the Perak Academy in 2009.

His speech actually spells out the road map for reform in the country more clearly and comprehensively than what Mahathir and the other signatories have come out with recently.

I have spoken and written in support of Ku Li’s Golden Principles on many occasions. But Tengku Razaleigh himself appears to have given up on them. How else can we explain why he has failed to push them in the way that Mahathir has pushed his Citizens’ Declaration?

When we think hard about it, it is clear that whatever political rhetoric they are spouting or declarations or principles they come up with, Mahathir, the former Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, and Tengku Razaleigh are hard-core, die-hard UMNO leaders who will never give up on their party voluntarily.

This is why it is difficult to believe that UMNO is capable of reform unless and until it is finally removed from power and sits on the opposition benches.

Koon Yew Yin is a retired civil engineer and one of the founders of IJM Corp Bhd and Gamuda Bhd.

5 thoughts on “Mahathir and Ku Li–Failed Leaders in the same pea pod

  1. Well, it’s undoubtedly Mahathrism did affect the nation building in the 22 years of his rule. Cronyism drove him to greater disaster to the losses of billions in exchange rates and other development projects like MAS, Perwaja and many others. His Look East Policy was a big let down.

    Today at least he joined hands with the opposition to stop the rot that Najib is taking the nation into the bewilderment of new hemisphere and if unchecked, the nation would explode and the rakyat are expected to suffer.

    Ku Li on the other hand, talks big at seminars like the 10 golden rules to save he nation but it’s all an empty talk with sugar coating words without any commitment. His shrewdness perhaps waiting to be invited to give the power to take the leadership of the nation. To me it appears that he is not a man of deeds but he is a man of words to stay safe in his political arena. I had great respect for him but now he is not worth his words.

    His contemporaries are much worried the way the nation is being destroyed by one man with the support of UMNO stooges but Razaleigh being an UMNO forerunner for decades seem to smile away when reporters approach him of his cooperation with the dissidents who are grouping to save the nation.

  2. Somu,maybe he is old and have no desire to lead and trying to keep himself lightly occupied by talking but not doing much.Anyway its not easy to please Malaysians because all of them think and feel that they are the experts on how to rule effectively but let someone else who they think are not as clever as them to lead and obtain the power while they whine and blame them while having teh tarik or making comments on the blogs.

  3. Ku Li is simply not enough of a slimeball.

    In contrast, Najib, Dr M and Anwar are.

    Politics and gentlemen don’t mix, not in 2016 Malaysia.

    I wonder how Tunku would fare.

    He’d certainly be appalled.

  4. I share the same sentiment as expressed many times( here and TMI) before that Umno Baru is incapable or refuse to ” reform until and unless it is finally remove and sits on the opposition bench”.

    But the oppositions are also incapable of forming a formatable coalition to rule.
    So exactly where are we now?
    Why and how it had happened this way?
    Why the people had let them.

    Everything can be traced to the cource to at least one ,several or all of the basic rogue elements of Umno Baru”s deep seeded culture of Money politics, Abuse of power, Corruption , Cronysm and Puppetry ( MACCP = Mahathirism) that foster greed , hatreds, divissiveness, bigotry, Incompetency, disinformation’ and host of problems derived from there that had brought to this dire state of affairs.

    It is not that our Westminster Democratic system does not work rather the squabblings of leaders within and outside the parties with self-serving agendas that are the problems.

    In the end,the Character, Quality and the Capability of the Leaders matter most.

  5. “This is why it is difficult to believe that UMNO is capable of reform unless and until it is finally removed from power and sits on the opposition benches.”

    How, Koon Yew Yin?

    What do you suggest?

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