Could Anwar be more like Tun M than we assume or even more ‘lethal’ than Tun M?

LISTENING to twice former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad accuse the unity government and the five opposition MPs of bribery for switching their support to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is like listening to a pot calling the kettle black.

It is like hearing Adolf Hitler accuse Idi Amin of committing genocide – you might not dispute what is said but hearing who says it does make the entire thing look like a farce.

This entire episode of five opposition MPs switching support to Anwar reeks of Mahathirism 101. It is Dr Mahathir who popularised the view that what one does is acceptable for as long as it fulfils the letter of the law even if it makes a mockery of the spirit in which the law is made.

None of Dr Mahathir’s predecessors believed in such a concept. From Tunku Abdul Rahman to Tun Hussein Onn, all of them honoured the spirit of the law even if the letter of the law did not explicitly demand that they did so.

This quality that underlines the character of a gentleman and a sportsman however was completely debased during Mahathir’s long tenure. Under Mahathirism, being a gentleman and be sportsman-like was a sign of a loser.

Mentor-disciple connection

A winner – by the definition of Mahathirism – is someone who is able to do whatever it takes to win. If winning requires one to interpret the letter of the law in a way that makes the entire law meaningless, a winner should have no qualms in making such an interpretation.

From turning himself into a “constitutional Malay” to firing the Lord President of the Supreme Court to calling Malaysia an Islamic state to insisting that all of his billionaire children earned their wealth legally, Dr Mahathir has had no problem interpreting the letter of the law like a modern-day Shylock.

If he wanted a pound of flesh and it was possible for him to get a pound of flesh by interpreting the law in a skewed fashion, he would skew it without batting an eyelid.

In terms of message, of course I agree that what the Bersatu MPs have done by switching their support for Anwar is tantamount to a betrayal of the highest order but to hear Mahathir say it is indeed something that is difficult to abide by.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (left) and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

To hear the nonagenarian criticise the spiritual corruptions of the unity government and the five Bersatu MPs is like hearing the devil quote the scriptures.

It is because of his example and teachings during his 22 years of power that we are burdened with a government and lawmakers who can behave shamelessly without even batting an eyelid.

The entire generation that is ruling today grew up under the heavy influence of Mahathirism. If Anwar is indeed the one that is behind the move to turn over the five Bersatu MPs, he would have learned all about making such a move from his once mentor Dr Mahathir.

‘Deadlier strain of Mahathirism’

Had Anwar honed his political career serving under Tunku, Tun Razak or Tun Hussein, he would have been ashamed to stoop so low to secure his political career.

Because Anwar made his bones under Dr Mahathir however, Anwar probably thinks that being able to make such a manoeuvre makes him smart and clever. What a better person would consider shameful and beneath them is something that a student of Mahathirism believes to be something that makes them smart and superior.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (left) and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

One of my biggest criticisms of Anwar is that he is too highly influenced by Mahathirism. Anwar is probably more influenced by Mahathirism than Datuk Seri Mukhriz who is Dr Mahathir’s biological son.

While Anwar came to power by promising that he is going to reform the excess of Mahathirism – from the way he is running his administration – I think that rather than do away with Mahathirism, Anwar is going to lead the country by practising an even deadlier strain of Mahathirism. – Nov 28, 2023


Nehru Sathiamoorthy is a roving tutor who loves politics, philosophy and psychology.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


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