Friday, June 15, 2012

Is Mahathir A Saint?

If what Mahathir said of himself is true, then he is undoubtedly a saint. One that ought to be canonised.

But it is difficult for Malaysians to believe half of what he said of himself.

In fact, it is difficult for anyone to believe half of what a person says of himself, let alone what a politician says of himself.

He said that he did not abuse his power as the PM.

He said

...I had always been careful not to abuse the power I had as PM because I was mindful of having to step down and lose power at some stage

Whether in all his 22 years as the prime minister of Malaysia he had ever abused his power is really debatable. It all depends on what you mean by abuse of power

If your definition of abuse of power is one that is convenient to you, then there is no point arguing.

Of course, Mahathir might not have been directly involved in many instances. But as the PM it is hard to believe that he did not have some say or influence one way or another especially where a transaction or some project involved huge sums of public monies.

So, one thinks of the Mamico fiasco for example where our effort to corner the international tin market during Mahathir's time bombed miserably, and we were said to have suffered more than just some red faces and in fact were said to have lost several hundred million ringgit to boot.

Or the forex fiasco, where Bank Negara or the Malaysian national bank was said to have lost tens of billion of ringgit trading in the pound Sterling whereas Mahathir's nemesis, George Soros, on the other hand, was said to have made more than a billion US dollars!

On the forex fiasco the man himself, Mahathir, once famously or infamously asked what was a few billion ringgit loss?

All these fiascoes are documented in Barry Wain's book, 'Malaysian Maverick'.

There were more instances where it could be said some form of abuse of power was involved, but it is not my intention to enumerate them. I just want to point out a few instances where it could be said there was some abuse of power involved whether or not Mahathir himself was directly engaged.

How about the emasculation of the Malaysian judiciary where Malaysia's top judge, the Lord President himself, and several senior judges were eventually removed?

What about the awards of lucrative contracts to parties who were said to be friends and cronies, without open tenders, and all done in secrecy and protected by the OSA (Official Secrets Act)? For example, to this day, we are still in the dark about the terms of the various highway concessions. Or those involving the IPPs (Independent Power Producers). While the rakyat continue to be yoked with their burden.

Mahathir also said

I had not allowed my children to do business with the Government or to be candidates in election though they have been offered several times when I was PM and President of Umno...

That might be so. But Malaysians are also wondering whether his sons could have become multi-millionaires if Mahathir had not been the PM or whether his son, Mirzan, would have been bailed out when his shipping business failed during the Asian financial crisis of the late nineties.

In fact, people are conjecturing that Mahathir's falling out with his then deputy and current nemesis, Anwar Ibrahim, who was then the finance minister, was because Anwar was said to have opposed the bailout. Here's an interesting article on the Mahathir and Anwar fallout with each other.

The man also said

I have not taken anything that is not mine. In fact all gifts to me, many very valuable, have been given to the Government including several expensive cars

Truly impressive!

NOTE:  For Lim Kiat Siang's reply to Mahathir's post 'My Fears' click here

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