Uh-oh, the news that an incumbent Umno prime minister dreads – Mahathir is withdrawing support. Deja vu.
Let’s look at some of the reasons he gave (in bold), with my comments next to them.
Mahathir didn’t like it when:
Najib repealed the ISA – Of course, Mahathir wouldn’t be happy with this. But other oppressive laws such as the Sedition Act (which Najib had pledged to repeal) remain in place, and this really should keep Mahathir contented – though not many of the rakyat.
Crime has risen because gang-leaders were freed with the lifting of oppressive laws – Or are there other short-comings in the police force? What about the wide income disparity and youth unemployment? Are they contributing towards social problems?
Indiscriminate handouts were dished out and not just to the poor – This one I somewhat agree with Mahathir. But then there are corporate handouts too. What about the RM3bn that Proton is requesting from the government, when Proton is now a private company under DRB-Hicom?
Imported goods are encouraged while local goods are neglected – Is he referring to lower taxes on imported cars such as energy efficient vehicles, by any chance? More imports and foreign makes would have hurt Proton’s market share even further.
Holidays for workers were increased – have they really now? I have spoken to security guards and cleaners who complain they don’t get even a day off.
A higher minimum wage has been introduced – Hello? Let me quote the late veteran unionist K George writing for Aliran in 2007:
The sum of RM900 as minimum wage was proposed in August 1998 when Mahathir met the MTUC leaders at the meeting called for by him. At that meeting, Mahathir surprisingly maintained that RM900 was not enough for an average family of five persons to survive for a month. Instead, he proposed that the minimum wage should be RM1,200. His excuse for not implementing his proposal of RM1,200 immediately was the financial crisis at that time in Malaysia. But when the economy started to improve gradually, Mahathir left the scene in October 2003 without resolving the minimum wage issue.
(August 1998 was just before Mahathir sacked Anwar from government.)
Now, 16 years after Mahathir made that RM1,200 proposal to the MTUC, he thinks RM900 is too high?
Najib’s policies, approaches and government actions have damaged ethnic relations, hurt the economy and the nation’s financial position – Mahathir may have a point here, but the worsening ethnic relations and neoliberal policies had their roots from way back. As patron of Perkasa, does Mahathir think Perkasa has improved ethnic relations?
Err, I notice Mahathir didn’t mention rampant corruption and cronyism that has cost the nation dearly.
Of course, Najib has a lot to answer for and should be criticised for his ‘elegant silence’ on a host of issues. But not for many of the grounds Mahathir has given.