I NEVER really thought that former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s daughter, Marina Mahathir would write a book about him.
And I really don’t know what is the objective of the book which may soon be officially launched. However, reading the excerpts suggest that the narrative seems to exonerate Mahathir; as a family man and charismatic leader with clear vision but was betrayed.
I can understand Marina’s love for her father and her family. Since her father is no longer in power, maybe she decided to put a family touch to the difficulties that Mahathir underwent as the prime minister, the stress he had to put with, the toll on his heart, that eventuated in a surgery.
In her book, Mahathir comes as a loving father, a strict disciplinarian and a person who would brook no nonsense.
And the story on the trip to Langkawi Island before the 2018 General Election was a scary one. Whether it was sabotage or something else, Mahathir nearly did not make it for nomination.
The highlight of the excerpts was the Sheraton Move, which led to the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan Government.
In this case, Marina absolved the role of her father by putting the blame on several ex-PKR leaders and those in Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
It was this move that resulted in Mahathir’s resignation and Marina did not mince her words in calling the Sheraton Move as a betrayal against her father, the then prime minister.
These excerpts coming from Marina paints Mahathir as a person dedicated to the well-being of the country and the family. He resigned as the premier after getting betrayed by those he trusted and promoted.
In my view, Marina’s excerpts, until I am able to read her book, is a classic attempt to exonerate her father from his misdeeds.
Mahathir’s struggle with his health leading to heart surgery and recuperation are attempts to show the toll that stress had on him but let’s be clear, Mahathir stressed himself out actually!
Stress or anxiety cannot explain why he removed and imprisoned Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, his former deputy in 1998. The reformasi movement sprung to challenge the dictatorial ways of Mahathir.
And Mahathir had done more damage to the country than any other prime minister we had. He wanted things done his way and is infamous for sowing racial discord.
What mattered to him was the well-being of the Malays, but his pro-Malay policies ironically ended up benefiting a small sector of the community, particularly UMNO leaders and their families.
And his children also benefited from the system. Whether the poor and ordinary Malays benefitted or not is a different story.
Mahathir’s racial insecurity ruined M’sia
Constant narrative of the need to catch up with the non-Malays, particularly the Chinese, ensured that Mahathir brought up racial and religious arguments into his policy making process.
Although Mahathir is a person of Indian origin, he hid his past just to prove that he was more Malay than a Malay.
It was more than the need to prove as his attempts to remove his links to “Indianess” meant undertaking extreme pro-Malay/Muslim policies and initiatives at the expense of the legitimate rights of Chinese and Indians.
Indians particularly suffered during the two terms while Mahathir was in office. I have my doubts that conscious members of the Indian community will ever forgive him for depriving them of their rights and opportunities.
Mahathir ensured that the non-Malay leadership would remain subservient and servile to him and UMNO. It was during his time that the non-Malays ceased to be an important factor in Malaysian politics.
As for the Sheraton Move, yes there were traitors but we must be honest on who harboured and nourished them. Marina must stop pretending that her father was a victim as it was Mahathir who orchestrated the whole thing!
Mahathir was never comfortable working with Pakatan and he derailed the power transition plan in order to spite Anwar, the second time around.
Just imagine what kind of leader will officiate the Malay Dignity Conference, where insults were hurled against the non-Malays. Mahathir not only officiated the event but also encouraged the forces to sow discord.
And It was Mahathir who gave political sanctuary to that reviled Muslim preacher, Dr Zakir Naik from India. He tolerated and condoned his activities in defiance of India’s attempts to extradite Zakir for terrorist activities in India and elsewhere.
As for Marina, she can do all the whitewashing of her father but she should know that Mahathir has a dark side to him.
A large segment of Malaysians cannot forget his treacherous role in undermining the fragile race relations in the country.
There is no change in Mahathir’s attitude from the days when he wrote the Malay Dilemma.
And I cannot wait to read the full text of Marina’s drivel about her father and hero, Mahathir. – Nov 21, 2021.
Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyman for Perai. He is also Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.