In August 2015, in a conversation that my friend, journalist Ismail Lim that he later developed into his Do You Want Mahathir to Shut Up piece in Free Malaysia Today, I had said ”Mahathir is the father and mother of modern Malaysia. Without him, the Malays would still be struggling to get out of the backwater and everyone else without exception would be in a sleepy Third World idyll” ….
…. years later, just yesterday, on the eve of GE 14, in a conversation with another friend who will remain annonymous, this idea was picked up and developed. This friend said, “If anyone can liberalise the conservative Malay mindset it is Mahathir. He tried to help them adapt to modernity even before his 22years as PM. His “Malay Dilemma” showed how he was acutely aware of the toll that the 21st century would take on the feudal structures and simplistic protectionist relflex that the Malay psyche. What he did not foresee was the extent to which his greedy knights would end up looting the kingdom jewels and mortgage the realm – He pampered his barons by pandering to their need to dress up for the pendekar roleplay, undermining his own cauase … and now it may be too late …
… As I said in 2015, Mahathir may not be all good, but he is nearly all smart. And he’s taking responsibility for the political monster he created. The ‘old man’ is a player and Malaysians need to play hard ball now to get out of this mess … I think Mahathir’s principle is success and not necessarily goodness or fairness. Malaysia must succeed. If not, he will bring the skeleton back to the dock anyhow”
I was responding then, to Ismail’s reference to the allegory of the fish from Hemingway’s The ‘Old Man’ and the Sea. … Last night, on June 7th, Mahatir gave his last speech of what has been a most amazing campaign for any man, let alone an ‘old man’ of 90 plus years. What can I say … , Mahathir has done his all. He has played ball with the stamina and verve of a much younger man. Thank you Dr M … right or wrong, win or loose, you have done your part!!!