By Arif Bakhtiar
AS if we needed any further confirmation, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is showing time and time again that he cannot let go.
In an interview on Facebook, Mahathir candidly said “I not want to contest, but my supporters are difficult. If I say I do not want to run for election, they may get angry. I do not know what to do” in reference to GE15.
Is Mahathir’s lust for power is so great that he will not turn down any opportunity to seize power?
While his ever-shrinking cadre of supporters have camouflaged it as a way to save Malaysia (once again) – why have none of them brought up the infamous legacy he has already built?
Mahathir is infamous for stating that he would never allow his children or wife to do business with Government, in his words, as “a matter of principle”.
Let’s all remember Mahathir’s RM 1.7 bil bailout of his son Mirzan Mahathir’s shipping interests in 1998. What about the complaint filed by Mahathir’s own supporter, Wan Mohammad Ashraf Nasjaruddin?
During the runup of GE14, many claimed that there were close to 500 companies registered under Mahathir and four of his kids’ names.
And this is not the full list of those who benefitted from his rule.
Many can still remember the small group of “bumputera capitalists” that became extremely rich quickly, including those close to former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, prior to his downfall in September 1998.
Their claim to riches? The unnecessary privatisation of public assets on top of the various megaprojects such as the North-South Highway, water and sewerage, Bakun dam, Light Rail Transit System (LRT) and the National Train Service (KTM).
The Mahathir dynasty
With little business experience at helm and propped up by political capital – these companies inevitably failed and bailed out to the tune of billions, using taxpayers’ funds.
So excessive were these bailouts and failed businesses, that they were used as anti-Mahathir fodder for decades to come.
Now when Mahathir was sworn in as Pakatan’s Prime Minister, one would have hoped that he would have spent his limited time to reform the monster he had created.
Instead, Malaysians found out that Opcom Cables, a company with links to Mokhzani and Mukhriz Mahathir was awarded a RM11.16 mil contract by Telekom Malaysia (Opcom shares rose nearly 40% after this announcement).
A few months later, a letter of appointment that addressed as Petron Fuel International Bhd as one of the fuel suppliers for Government vehicles went viral on social media. Mirzan is a director of Philippine-based Petron Corporation, which owns Petron Malaysia.
How about Mukhriz’s tenure in Kedah as a Pakatan’s Menter Besar? It seems that the Mahathir clan was trying to shore up as much contracts in the state as possible, with the planned airport in Kulim, the industrial parks and even durian plantations designed to displace indigenous inhabitants.
Given the long and sordid family legacy which Mahathir has left us, we need to reject any overtures he is making to return to power.
The price paid by the rakyat will go far beyond any the longest bridge, the tallest building, the grandest airport, the most awesome dam – remember the destruction of the aspirations and hopes of entire generations of Malaysia.
It’s time to say no to Mahathir. Once and for all. – May 11, 2021.
Arif Bakhtiar is contributor to FocusM.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.