Mahathir’s shifting stand shows he can’t be trusted

February 14, 2019

Mahathir’s shifting stand shows he can’t be trusted

Opinion  |  by P Gunasegaram

Published:  |  Modified:


We are mobile, we are not fixed” 

– Dr Mahathir Mohamad when asked about party hopping

COMMENT | It’s rare that a newly elected leader (only for an interim period), elected by the rakyat because of promises made by the coalition he heads, breaks key promises in a short space of time, and says with a straight face that re-assessment has to be made in the face of changing developments.

This man, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who came to power as a result of a mass uprising against the kleptocratic UMNO-BN government and who promised that he would not take defecting UMNO-BN MPs, just two days ago handed out membership cards to seven such people with not so much as an apology for his action. Two others had defected earlier, making nine in all.

They were Jeli MP Mustapa Mohamed (a former minister) who crossed over in October, Bagan Serai MP Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali who joined a month later, Masjid Tanah MP Mas Ermieyati Samsudin who crossed over in December, Larut MP Hamzah Zainuddin (who is also a former minister), Mersing MP Abdul Latif Ahmad, Tasek Gelugor MP Shabudin Yahaya, Sabak Bernam MP Mohd Fasiah Mohd Fakeh, Hulu Terengganu MP Rosol Wahid and Tanah Merah MP Ikhmal Hisham Abdul Aziz.

He justified this acceptance of the UMNO MPs into the fold with his trademark twisted logic. Examples, as reported in theSun:

“I am now sitting on the same side as leaders I once attacked and mocked, but politicians are sometimes forced to jump ship according to circumstances.“If you are tied to only one leader or party and stay with them even if they rob the people, then you are not a politician, but one who only cares for yourself.

“I was previously in UMNO, and I left to join DAP, PKR and Amanah. But if they are no longer loyal to the country, I will also move to other parties. We are mobile, we are not fixed,” he added.

In his replies (you can watch the full press conference here), he ignored the fact that he is prime minister by virtue of other parties supporting him, for his own Bersatu had only 13 seats compared to PKR’s 47 and DAP’s 42 at the end of the last polls. What he is doing now, by accepting Umno MPs into the fold now, is a tacit support of those who, by omission, clearly supported the previous kleptocratic government.

Not just that, it has been reported that all UMNO divisions received money from former premier Najib Abdul Razak’s personal account which, it was quite clear at the time and well before the elections of May 9 last year, received money which came from 1MDB.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported in July 2015 that some US$700 million had come into Najib’s accounts from 1MDB funds. This was confirmed later by the US Department of Justice which gave in detail the money trail. These people did not oppose Najib at all, but supported his kleptocratic acts by not voicing their concern and accepting to stand in the elections. They are, therefore, irrevocably tainted.

Bolstering his own position

Mahathir does not care if they are corrupt or immoral. The only reason that Mahathir is accepting these tainted people into Bersatu is to bolster his own position within the coalition from the paltry 13 MPs he had at the end of the election to 22 now, making it bigger than PAS with 18 MPs.

That is purely as a result of nine defections. The defections are legal partly because Mahathir, during his previous rule, refused to make it illegal to jump parties. However, they remain ethically and morally extremely repugnant and go against the grain of reform promised by Harapan.

Mahathir acquiescing to defections despite earlier opposition, opens the door very wide for Bersatu to accept virtually all of the other UMNO MPs – some 40 odd, if you exclude those who are clearly unacceptable like Najib. In addition to some 16 others in Sarawak and perhaps four independents in Sabah, there are some 60 more. This could swell Bersatu’s combined support to some 82 MPs.

The implications of this are enormous. If DAP and Amanah throw in their lot with Mahathir, a total of 53 seats, Mahathir’s numbers increase to 135, enough to command a handsome majority in the 222-member house, even if PKR were to leave the coalition. Another 13, not forgetting possible defections from PKR’s 50 odd members, will give him a two-thirds majority.

If PKR, DAP and Amanah stuck it out and stayed together, then they will have some 103 seats. Include Warisan’s eight, and it takes the tally to 111, which comes to exactly 50 percent of the seats in Parliament. This puts PAS in a very strong position with their 18 seats, as kingmaker.

Things, of course, may not pan this way. Any number of things can happen in the interim. But it is very clear that the situation has become very fluid and uncertain because Mahathir has changed the rules of the game to suit himself and Bersatu, something he has done throughout his 22 years at the top between 1981 and 2003.

All this means that the political situation in this country has turned rather unstable because of Mahathir and because he has been constantly shifting his position and openly in defiance of coalition politics. He wants to be in total control all the time. Hopefully, he won’t have it his way this time around.

There were many who had misgivings about Mahathir joining the Harapan coalition, including this writer, given his past record as a dictator and an autocrat who used his party’s two-thirds majority in Parliament to introduce authoritarian laws and to control government institutions which should have remained independent.

A dangerous weapon

This is what I wrote in an article titled “Can Mahathir be trusted?” in April 2017, when there were moves to get Mahathir into the Harapan coalition: “If any one takes the trouble to remember what this man did and stood for, he would be mad to think that Mahathir is the solution – he was, and is, the problem. Without him and his 22 years of misrule, Malaysia would not have descended to what it is today.

“Mahathir was accountable to no one. Not the people, not the party, not the judges. He could do almost anything he pleased and get away with it using the apparatus and machinery of control he had put in place.

“He made opaque many decisions of government, putting anything marked secret by the government as secret under the law by removing the power of judges to judge even if the secret posed no danger to the country, but only embarrassed the government and exposed its corrupt ways.

“That was the legacy he left behind – and a leader who followed him used it to do nasty things, some worse than that by Mahathir. Now we expect Mahathir – the source of all this – to save us Malaysians from Najib!

“Is that why Mahathir is sticking his neck out? For the good of the country? But remember he had his chance – 22 years of it. He bungled – all he did was to stay in power and do the greatest damage to the country ever by any one, prime minister or not.

“His goal now is not to get into power, but to ensure that whoever comes into power does not destroy him. As far as Mahathir is concerned, it is always about him – not Malaysia, not Malaysians, not even the Malays.”

Now there are those who argue that he needs to get UMNO members to obtain a two-thirds majority to change the constitution in order to reform. How stupid! Much of the reform that is needed can be done by just amending and scrapping laws which only needs a simple majority in Parliament.

To give Mahathir a two-thirds majority is to put into his hands a mega-weapon which he will not hesitate to use against anyone who opposes him. It is a dangerous weapon to put in the hands of a man who can not be trusted and who alters his promises to suit his ulterior motives.

Mahathir is not the person to reform this country, simply because he was ultimately responsible for most of its ills. His actions show he does not believe in reform or fair play. Mahathir blithely talks of loyalty to the nation for his shifting stand. Let’s not let him betray the rakyat who are what makes the nation.

P GUNASEGARAM says a leopard likes its spots too much to change them. E-mail:

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.



28 thoughts on “Mahathir’s shifting stand shows he can’t be trusted

  1. No doubt Mahathir is the builder n also the destroyer. Without him Najib Razak will still be the Prime Minister. Anyway he’s on borrowed life. Perhaps the death of 4 SSA prolonged his life.
    Nevertheless, he could be PM for full term n lead PH to second term. The Singaporean n Thais believe so. The point is who’s best to succeed him.

    • we dont think so that madey is the prime factor for ph win. rakyats have been wanting to get rid of jibby/bn ever since the 1mdb fiasco broke out , that why we had 2 bersih rallies.

  2. He has strengthened Bersatu and created UMNO 3.0 without Najib to earn the trust of the Malays and that matters most to him. He is a brilliant Malay First politician.His struggle for his people in Kedah began in his youth. It is, therefore, not reasonable to expect him to abandon their cause at 93.–Din Merican

  3. How do you deliver on the PH Manifesto promises without amending the Constitution? We need 2/3 majority. If after having reached that magic number Tun doesn’t follow up with the changes , then you have every right to crucify him

  4. MM was founder member of UMNO. If not for Najib he might still be there. Now that Najib is out in the cold, his mission is accomplished. The brilliant strategist is only using PH to further his personal agenda. He is no statesman but an extraordinary politician. History will judge whether he is builder or destroyer of the let-down race which he claims to champion.

  5. Are middle class Malays going to sit on the sidelines, and allow corrupt kleptocrats to creep back into power, after their sorry record of running/ruining the country? Or are they going to be like public intellectual Mariam Mokhtar and speak up fearlessly? And also engage in political action to prevent such developments?

    In Peninsular Malaysia, AMANAH and PKR need to be further strengthened in the PH coalition. Who’s successfully courting the working class Malay and peasant Malay (e.g. FELDA) votes ?

    (Right-wing Chinese political parties such as MCA and Gerakan have been mostly defanged, with overwhelming Chinese support for the DAP. DAP is generally reformist and mildly social democratic/progressive. It will be able to field even better quality candidates in GE15).

  6. Mahathir meaning

    Mahathir is only a pretend Muslimin but definitely a dictator cum Pharaoh in the wrong era.

    His name Maha means Great
    Thir ? No idea, Tea
    Wikipedia says
    Thír, wife of Þræll, the ancestress of serfs in the Eddic poem Rígsþula
    Thir Pasha, commonly known as Tahir Pasha (Egypt), a commander of Albanian bashi-bazouks and acting Ottoman Governor of Egypt in 1803
    Mahathir is ZERO in his understanding of economics or even NEGATIVEs.

    Time and time again, Mahathir gets Malaysia into HEAVY economic debts of no returns.
    Mahathir is a past and has no relevance to Malaysia’s future other than his moronic revivalist contributions.

    George Soros, his new found best friend confirmed Mahathir is an Economic moron.

    Back to the FUTURE, Look EAST again

    Back to the FUTURE, Proton 2.0

    Back to the FUTURE, Sodomy 3.0 coming up

    Mahathir is like the GROUNDHOG DAY for Malaysia and Malaysians, GOD SAVE Malaysia cos no one can save Malaysians from Mahathir.

    Mahathir caught lying yet again and his propensity to lie may equal or even exceed pathological liars.

  7. TM is a brilliant politician and a futurist but very enigmatic and unpredictable. Always picked d wrong man for his successor but whatever he do d result will be felt down d line. During his earlier era a Malaysian traveling overseas will be highly looked up to, but not during Najib’s era.Whatever it is one will be an idiot to trust a politician.

    • I wouldn’t call him brilliant. Machevillian maybe. What business is his to pick the successor? He killed off all the potential successors and now lament there are no good successors. He’s good at dividing people to remain in power.

  8. Oh Guna, oh Guna, apa Guna.

    Nothing in Guna’s long-winded sermon even hints that he’s aware that his comments should be directed elsewhere than Mahathir.

    In the very first para:

    “It’s rare that a newly elected leader (only for an interim period), elected by the rakyat because of promises made by the coalition he heads, breaks key promises in a short space of time, and says with a straight face that re-assessment has to be made in the face of changing developments.”

    Let’s reword that slightly:

    “It’s rare that a newly elected government, elected by the rakyat because of promises made by the coalition, breaks key promises in a short space of time, and says with a straight face that re-assessment has to be made in the face of changing developments.”

    Yes, it’s not just Big Bad Bersatu that’s failed badly, it’s also the far more angelic (to Guna) DAP, PKR and that other Malay party that Guna can’t name (probably.) After all, none of these parties have power-obsessed megalomaniacs either, right Guna?

    Personally I’m far more concerned about the PH govt’ inability to get anything right, than I am about Mahathir’s Malay realpolitik.

  9. Let us look at what is happening in PPBM or Bersatu
    1. Qualifications
    Whilst it is not neccessary to have any academic qualification to be a leader, the litmas test is the honesty and integrity of the person. If a person cannot be trusted not to lie on such a personal issue, how can he/she be trusted with the affairs of the state?
    2. Open Tender for allocation of Governmennt projects
    It is not acceptable to give a project to a company on account of the fact that the company has qualified and experienced shareholders. Which company would want to test out on a tender if they are not qualified;

  10. First, lemme make a few observations about the folks commenting here:

    1. Most Nons do not trust Octo – no matter what. The actions belie the deep cynicism and jaded anachronism that this multi-faceted nonagenarian, opportunist displays. In part Machiavellian, in part – an omniscient Shiva Destroyer – if not of worlds, then his own appointed Successors.

    2. Most Sons of Soil (including rare earths) have a great deal of respect, even adoration for this long lived intelligent jefe (Da Boss) who really ‘knows’ how to handle the dastardly kafirs. They are especially enamored about his ‘trickle down’ Octonomics – which allows the right skin tone and name, to forage as feudalistic knaves.

    3. Folks like me, otoh, shudder and develop acute stress, whenever i chance upon his dreaded stare or step into his shadow. This includes the Broken Heart Syndrome – aka Takotsubo Syndrome or Stress Cardiomyopathy – a condition fatal, if not quickly admitted to CCU.. Therefore, i agree with both opinions – but know that his promises are usually couched in iron clad ‘escape clauses’.

    4. I also understand that his chronological age is seriously into the senile stage and Takotsubo-like problems are not very distant, nor are Tau neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques. Go on.., wiki it.

    What does Takotsubo mean? It’s Japanese for Octopus Trap/Pot. Probably the only retardant able to stop the ‘fingering’.

    This Indian grandfather, feeds the many poor – while Octo feeds the few rich:
    (For the Hakka piow, katasayang and his dreaded Welayu) 👌:

    • Speaking of which, is halal Hokkien mee any good? Difficult to find something to substitute the umph provided by those little bites of fried pork lard :P. In any case, Malaysians absolutely need to find healthier food to replace all of our tasty food. It is not good to be fat!

    • Hey O.M, methinks it’s closely related to Mamak Mee but slightly more Oriental, cuz it seems that this is more braising than frying. Actually the technique of cooking for large groups are pretty much the same, as you are well aware, since you have helped is many voluntary soup kitchens and mosque functions. Just had some pesembur with ‘sotong’ (that’s Mamak/Malay ‘rojak’ for the uninitiated) and cendol for lunch. Had some great ikan bakar, ulam and udang asam pedas in Melaka the other day too. Will belanja you when you return…

      katasayang, Hakka mee and Hokkien fried mee are totally different culinary experiences. The former is lighter and peppery while the latter is slathered in thick black soy sauce. As for the pork crackling, it’s probably safer than a equivalent pack of potato chip/crisps. It’s actually recommended for folks on a high fat-protein, low carbo Atkin’s diet – one of the more successful diets for weight loss. The guilt is by association..

      Sometimes, talking about food and gastronomic delights are much better than Ruminating about disgusting Malaysian Politics.

    • CLF now you have me salivating like Pavlov dogs. Will take up the offer. Still have the raincheck on Musang King in Bentong and hope the Taikor will still be there.
      Yes simple cooking with simple ingredients but look at the faces of the kids slurping on the noodles. God bless that grandpa. Empty your wallet meh.

    • @CLF yeah. Yummy. Chewing on a pork crackling now when typing this with chia seeds now 😛
      But, still not halal. Still need to find a substitute for it in order to share our favorite Hokkien Mee with our Muslim friends. The next Food tech must take place, like the Jewish Engineers who came up with kosher bacon.

  11. I dare say most real reformist have lost faith in Mahathir, only tolerating him because he will leave in slightly more than 14 months.

    Reformist will now push for Anwar to begin his takeover. Perhaps begin with either Defense or Home Ministry, better yet Economic Ministry.

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