Mahathir: “When you believe you can become popular by giving the people money, then you will find that the people will demand even more money.”
“The pay of a prime minister is not enough to buy support… So what do you do? You [allegedly] steal!”
Pointed words indeed.
Mahathir is urging Malaysians to sign the Citizens’ Declaration. “Our detention centres are big. But they are not big enough to hold 10m people. They are not even big enough to hold even one millon.”
The more people who sign, the safer you are, adds Mahathir. There is safety in numbers.
If we don’t do something about this, then our children and grandchildren will have to pay the price, he says.
Tonight, Mahathir is also speaking at the Millennium Hall in Kepala Batas at 8.45pm.
A relative of mine pointed out, “He (Mahathir) is the main cause of all the problems we are facing today.”
Indeed, as Mahathir was speaking, I felt he glossed over his role in propelling Najib to the top, even though he must have known Najib, as former defence minister etc, was no angel before that. Mahathir could have groomed Razaleigh or Musa Hitam instead, but perhaps there was too much bad blood in the past for that. The country would have been so different if someone like Musa Hitam was at the top.
My relative still remembers how Musa took a principled position after the PBS had won the 1985 Sabah state election and Usno was trying to get appointed assembly members to boost their elected ranks. What happened to leaders of principle within Umno?
Mahathir also glossed over his role in the constitutional crisis in 1983, when he clipped the powers of the monarch: he argued he never foresaw that a leader would steal public money. Really?
Still, whatever Mahathir’s motives may be now, at least he is trying to do something to atone for his wrongdoings during his 22-year rule. Many might feel he has not gone far enough by actually tendering an apology for all the harm that he had done. If he does reach that point of contrition, then he would win renewed respect. But sorry, as Elton John sang, is often the hardest word, especially for politicians.
When Mahathir was responding to Ariffin Omar’s question about whether the former premier was prepared to countenance the downfall of Umno, I detected a slight shift in Mahathir’s position that he would like Umno to remain in power.
After all, if as Mahathir maintains, many key Umno people have received money, then Mahathir himself, let alone Umno, would find it hard to point to a suitably untainted successor to Najib (unless the party looks to its fringes for those few more principled ones had been sidelined by the party in the past).
Nonetheless, there is no denying the value of what Mahathir is doing now, by giving Malaysians who care about this country a rallying point to express their concern and some semblance of hope. Who knows what will come out of it, but I am optimistic that the ripples of hope will translate to action that will have unexpected results.