Commentary Politics

No surprises left in Mahathir’s bag

First face-to-face contact between Mahathir and Anwar in 18 years.

Written by Aziz Hassan

“Mid-week Notes” – A weekly column – 08/09/16

A case of the ends justifying the means

YOU didn’t think you would see the day, whatever the (political) circumstances, but recently we did.

It was the last thing you imagined could happen but it did happen and with that Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister of 22 years and former president of the country’s biggest and most dominant political party in 59 years of history post-Merdeka, has probably made his biggest about-turn.

There was Mahathir cordially meeting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, his former number two in the government and Umno, the man he removed in 1998 in the former capacity, to be followed by a sacking as an Umno member and deputy president.

Mahathir was to say that the Monday meeting did not mean a peace offering but a day later he asked his lawyers to assist the man he had nothing good to say about post-1998. Another step towards peace, surely.

It’s hard to say who needs who more under the current environment, where the likes of Mahathir, Anwar and some others want sitting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to go due to allegations of impropriety relating to 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

From a lawful perspective, the only thing they think could be applicable for them to make a case against Najib are the civil lawsuits filed in the United States by its Department of Justice to recover assets against a few characters said to have been accumulated from misappropriated 1MDB money. But that cannot apply to Malaysia. Furthermore what’s in the lawsuits is not evidence that has passed the test in open court. Domestically so far, all enforcement agencies have said they have not found a reason to prosecute Najib. Much as his detractors want Najib to go, the legal channels are not there for them to use against him.

It was only a few months ago that Anwar wrote to caution his PKR people from working hand-in-glove with Mahathir, at a time when it looked like Mahathir and his declaration was going to hijack the opposition movement from Anwar. Being incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison also limits what Anwar can do for the movement and he must have felt very worried.

While this is all taking place, Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Ismail — Anwar’s wife, PKR president and opposition leader – sounds non-committal and appears to take the cue each time from her husband. The other prominent member of the clan, daughter Nurul Izzah, has hardly given away to the public what she thinks about the entire episode.

Of interest too would be the view of the elected representatives in PKR, the Aduns and Members of Parliament, because PKR grew from Keadilan, the party the birth of which had everything to do with what Mahathir had done to Anwar. There’s no escaping or denying that. How would they reconcile their feelings relating to this with the Mahathir factor now?

There were some who were supportive in social media of the meeting between Mahathir and Anwar, insisting that this should not be an issue because the sole goal is to get rid of Najib. In other words, the ends justify the means.

One senior journalist, a known Mahathirite, wrote also in support and justified the meeting by saying that Anwar’s moral issues – his current jail term is his second for sodomy since his dismissal – are secondary compared to the resolve to remove Najib.

The problem is when you are in awe of someone and idolise him to the hilt, even his fart smells like Chanel No. 5!

Others allude to the saying that “there are no permanent enemies or friends in politics”.

Maybe, but look beyond our shores and you will realise that the saying applies only to Malaysian politicians.

We have never seen sworn political enemies in Britain, the US, Australia, Canada and in the established democracies in Europe doing an about-turn and embracing each other solely for political expediency. Never, because their politics is about a strong belief in ideologies and supported by unshakeable principles.

Following that overture by Mahathir on Monday, there’s simply no surprises left in his bag.



About the author


Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.