Note: I received this Open Letter from a 20-year Malaysian who grew up when Tun Dr. Mahathir was Malaysia’s political supremo. Addin makes many interesting comments. I am from Kedah and of the same generation as the Tun. I have been very critical of our PM Number 4.
It is heartening to read the views of a 20-year old and to note that, although more than 5 decades separate us, Addin and I are on the same page as far as Tun Dr. Mahathir is concerned.
Choosing and grooming successors is a challenge and painstaking effort for any one. But for a leader, choosing a successor(s) is a critical task. The late Lee Kuan Yew made it his primary duty and the results of his efforts are for us to see in Singapore today.
On this score, Tun Dr. Mahathir was a dismal failure and we are saddled with the consequences of his poor leadership choices (Abdullah Badawi and Najib Razak). Although he brought many changes by transforming our country from an agricultural backwater in a modern and industrialised state, Tun Dr. Mahathir, as I said in Tom Plate’s book, Conversations with Mahathir Mohamad, deformed Malaysian polity in the process.
Enough is said about the man. Let history decide on the man’s legacy It is convenient for us to heap all blame for the present Malaysian malaise on Tun Dr. Mahathir. Aren’t we equally culpable? We allowed it to happen.
So, we now need to move forward and focus our attention on the incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak, his character and leadership. He cannot be allowed to bring shame to our nation in the eyes of the world. We need to restore trust and confidence in our government.–Din Merican
Open Letter from a 20-year Old Malaysian to Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohammad
by Muhammad Addin Aiman
Umar Al-Khattab stood up and said “O Muslims, straighten me with your hands when I go wrong”, and at that instance a Muslim man stood up and said “O Amir al-Mu’minin (Leader of the Believers) if you are not straightened by our hands we will use our sword to straighten you!”. Hearing this Caliph Umar said “Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah) I have such followers.”- World Heritage Encyclopedia
My name is Addin Aiman. I was born in 1995 during the period when you were leading the country into prosperity. I am writing this letter to highlight one of the flaws of you have, Dr Mahathir, the same as what you did to Tunku Abdul Rahman while Tunku was still the Prime Minister. Eventhough you are an ex-prime minister, you have still gotten the hegemony in deciding the fate of the nation. So, allow me to be critical of the man who shaped Malaysia towards betterment. Put yourself into Tunku’s shoes for while reading this humble letter of mine.
You sir, with all due respect, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. the 4th Prime Minister was probably the best Prime Minister Malaysia had had surpassing Tun Abdul Razak or Tunku Abdul Rahman. Bar-none your policies has transformed Malaysia which was merely an agricultural back-water prior to the 80s into a highly-industrialized economy. Your strong demeanour for greater equality can be seen since the early 1960’s where you had been critical of the government for having failed to include Malay’s participation in economy i.e. trade and commerce to the point that you had written an open-letter demanding resignation of the then PM, Tunku Abdul Rahman.
Prior to your ascension to the premiership, you were an exceptional goverment officer in which when you were the Minister of Education who showed no nonsense towards discipline to the point of making yourself arrive office at 6 or 7 o’clock and wait and observe for the MoE staff to clock in. Your strong character led by your conviction in building the nation brought Malaysia to where it is today, one step closer to becoming developed nation. If it was not for your policies Malaysia could still be a developing nation for decades to come. Event hough Malaysia is already a highly-industrialized economy, it still managed to hinge on that 5-7 per cent GDP growth figures. Meaning to say that we are still improving even when we are already relatively good. But Malaysia won’t be relatively prosperous as it is today if you were not the Prime Minister for 22 years.
I for one recognise that you are not without flaws. Nobody is perfect. Among your flaws is that you failed to provide the nation with good quality leaders. A good leader is a leader who nicely grooms and selects the people to become future leaders when that leader has moved away from power.
Take for example the late Tun Abdul Razak. The 2nd Prime Minister was aware that in order to build the nation, his party which has a substantial amount of control over the course of the nation he must pick men and women of quality namely with intellect, passion and integrity to become future leaders. He did this by giving them experience in administering the country to prepare them for bigger responsibilities. Up to this day his proteges are influential people who are still playing key roles in nation-building. Among them are Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz and you yourself. Tengku Razaleigh was given the responsibility to become Finance Minister in his late 30s and as a result of Tun Razak’s grooming, Rafidah Aziz became one of the best politician who brought indusrialization, foreign investment, and trade oppoturnities in Malaysia.
With the great respect, why the aforementioned is related to your flaws is that you did not do as what Tun Razak would do, which was to choose men and women who would become good leaders. Post-independence up until Tun Hussein Onn’s resignation in 1981, people are appointed based on meritocracy. Relatively inexperienced people that have merit were groomed to become politicians by entering the cabinet or heading top GLCs so that they would make good leaders when they were elevated to positions of power and authority.
The current state of affairs surrounding the nation alone is the prove of what I have said earlier. When you were the President of UMNO you failed to maintain the quality of the party. UMNO which has great control and power in running the country should not be left in a state of corruption in-terms of integrity and morality. This is because it would be detrimental to the country that hinges heavily on UMNO’s administration. Unfortunately this has happened, specifically during your time as the head of UMNO.
I wish I was born earlier to tell you that it was for very important for you, the then President to protect the sanctity and relevance of UMNO’s struggle.. The sacrifices made by UMNO forefathers with the likes of late Dato’ Jaafar Onn, Tunku, Tun Razak and others must be appreciated. BUT that is not the case now. People in UMNO especially senior party officials are discrediting what UMNO forefathers had achieved for the nation.
This is so because the party that had once been called the (sole) protector of the Malays has turned into a corrupted party with members with inferior moral and ethical values. At the present moment the party has been plagued with so much immorality to the extent that party members that possess merits have no place within the party. Also it is impossible for people ( especially Malays) with a positive idealism who can be useful for the nation to be interested in joining UMNO, even when UMNO is helming the government and country’s administration.
A lot of Malaysians particularly Malays are aggrieved over the situation surrounding UMNO. Of course they know that UMNO is a corrupted party but what caused the corruption in once esteemed party?
You should know because you were the Party President for two decades and currently still having dominance in the party. With all due respect, Sir, you have been an exceptional politician since the day you enter politics. Credit must be due but, what you did to UMNO either directly or indirectly is one major taint to your illustrious carrier as both politician and statesmen. The seeds of corruption began to spread in UMNO while you were President. UMNO members began to operate as sly and self-serving Machiavellians in order to fullfil their self-interests and desire instead of party interest and desire. One of the more known Machievellians was none other than Anwar Ibrahim, the man you groomed to become the Prime Minister and ironically the same man who is now fighting for justice, freedom and transparency. Were you not aware that in order for UMNO members to win divisional votes they resorted to bribery? Were you also not aware that to maintain their authority in the party they have to turn to cronyism? Your close party associates and even your protégés had resulted to what I said above, damages. For the fact that you had the power to bring reforms to UMNO, why didn’t you do so?
In contrast, if you look at political parties in developed countries, what is happening there doesn’t apply here. These countries are stable politically, socially and economically because it administrations are spearheaded by political parties and leaders who have integrity and ethics. It is also may be because Party members is to act as buffer between politics and interest of the society. What is happening in UMNO is the opposite. Politics are disconnected from interest of the society and politics for them is based on their selfish and self-centered attitude.
Party members enter UMNO not to partake in the nation-building process but to enrich themselves because UMNO is synonymous with power. With power you can do anything. Nowadays UMNO serves as a wealth making machine. Unlike any other political parties in mature democracies UMNO, unlike the past UMNO, isn’t interested in creating equality and justice, upholding the rule of law and and in practising the enlightened progressive principles of Islam. Power is itself a powerful tool to create changes to the society, but members in UMNO crave for power for misguided and perverted reasons. And these men and women with distorted convictions who have clinched power in UMNO have corrupted UMNO.
Also, as the then Prime Minister you wanted allow the continuation of your legacy, precisely Wawasan 2020 for the advancement and positive progression of the nation but you failed to do so. Your legacy could only have been possible only if you did better in choosing and grooming your successors. You selected the wrong people in UMNO to become leaders of the country who are now ministers and Prime Ministers. Almost all the incompetent and corrupt key players in our country’s administration are people from your UMNO presidential era.
If you were aware of the importance of continuity of efficiency and transparency in the government, you would have selected people based on meritocracy and well ground moral and ethic values. Unfortunately that did not happen. When you were the Prime Minister, cabinet and GLCs appointments were based on loyalty obedience towards you. Those who disagreed with you would always be left in cold-storage like Tengku Razaleigh and Tun Musa Hitam and others.
Do not get me wrong, every political player must submit their obedience for a leader. Obedience was not the problem for those people who have the merits as politicians and administrators who disagreed with you. It is only because they don’t subscribe to blind obedience.
I am assuming that the justification that you had acted in that way is because you didn’t want externalities to be present when charting and implementing your policies. You did not want individuals who would not share your vision for a better nation. Although this maybe a valid justification, the manner in which you had acted by associating yourself with Mr. Yes-men and apple-polishers) and elevating them to higher administrative positions have cause much problems.
One of the problems that I can rightfully mention now is the weak administration of the current government led by UMNO. These yes-men or apple polishers that I have said earlier had caused mediocrity to surround decision making and policy of the country. This is because the men and women that you have chosen are nearly of no-capability and doesn’t have the required drive and passion to build the nation.
With the above being said, with all due respect, it is a high-time that you cease your hegemony in the political system to prevent further disruptions. Your concept of protecting your own legacy itself is distorted. I suggest that you leave the people in power to administer the country according to their own respective ways, rightfully.
Remember, if Tun Razak did as what his successors did, you won’t be “Mahathir” in the first place.
M.Addin M. Noor