Three reasons why Anwar might be taking action against the Mahathir-Daim inner circle

  1. He might be doing it for the sake of the nation

DURING his first premiership stint from 1981-2003, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his inner circles promised that if Malaysians gave them the power to move the nation’s wealth in any way which they deemed fit, they would make Malaysia a developed nation by 2020.

Malaysians trusted them and gave them the near absolute power that they asked for.

Although Dr Mahathir and his inner circle did use the nation’s resources to implement many projects like the construction of the PETRONAS twin towers and the establishment of Putrajaya to turn Malaysia into a developed nation, Dr Mahathir and his inner circle failed to make Malaysia a developed nation at the end of the day.

Despite their failure, they have been accorded high status and accumulated a vast amount of wealth. Both Mahathir and Daim have been accorded the title of Tun, the highest honour that can be accorded to a Malaysian.

It is also an open secret that Dr Mahathir’s children are extremely rich. From the seizure of the RM 2.3 bil Menara Ilham, we can see that Tun Daim Zainuddin, a member of Dr Mahathir’s inner circle, is also likely to be extraordinarily rich.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (left) and Tun Daim Zainuddin

Dr Mahathir and his inner circle might not have deliberately cheated Malaysians just because they did not deliver what they promised. They might have genuinely tried to turn Malaysia into a developed nation but they simply did not succeed for reasons that may or may not have been fully under their control.

The problem however is that despite not being able to fully fulfil their promises, they have been accorded with high status and great riches.

People follow examples, not instructions.

If no action is taken against Dr Mahathir and his inner circle, many of us will also start to feel that we also have a right to over-promise and under-deliver while taking a big fat pay cheque in the process or claim that why can’t when Dr Mahathir and Daim can do so and be accorded high status and accumulate immense wealth.

No matter how many times one preaches to Malaysians that such thinking is not healthy for the nation, it will remain influential in the mindset of Malaysians simply because of the example set by Dr Mahathir and his inner circle.

As such, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PMX) has a duty and responsibility to set the nation on the correct path. To believe that you can over-promise and under-deliver while making a great amount of wealth in the process is self-evidently not the right path for the nation.

Thus, Anwar is duty-bound to correct the example that is set by the Daim-Dr Mahathir inner circle and re-direct the nation once again towards the right path.

  1. He might be doing it as a pre-emptive measure to prevent the untimely collapse of the unity government

As Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) of Malaysia-Today alleges, PMX might also be taking action against the Dr Mahathir-Daim inner circle out of fear that both gentlemen are conspiring to overthrow the unity government.

2024 is going to be a very important year for the unity government.

Since the downfall of Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2018, no Malaysian government has been able to reign for more than two years. Dr Mahathir who made a comeback by replacing Najib only managed to reign for 22 months.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who toppled Dr Mahathir via political coup reigned for 17 months while Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob who replaced Muhyiddin managed to reign for only 15 months.

Anwar’s unity government has so far managed to reign for 13 months. If it manages to reign for a couple of more months, it will exceed the tenure of Ismail Sabri’s administration and potentially break the curse that has struck down all of Malaysia’s government since 2018.

If it manages to reign until the end of 2024, it would have succeeded in reigning for two years. If it manages to cross the two-year point, it will have crossed a critical point which will likely generate sufficient momentum that will ensure that it continues to reign for at least one full term.

From what we can glean from his speeches as well as the content of the Anwar biopic, “Anwar: The Untold Story”, we can surmise that Anwar and his reformasi movement are in a state of long-standing conflict with the old order led by the Dr Mahathir-Daim inner circle.

Considering their long-standing conflict, it is reasonable to assume that the Dr Mahathir-Daim inner circle will try to topple the unity government in 2024 before Anwar manages to secure his hold on power.

Anwar might be pre-emptively striking against the Dr Mahathir-Daim inner circle before they move to topple the unity government.

  1. He might be doing it for personal reasons

Anwar has been twice sentenced because of a humiliating accusation. He has never cleared his name in the court of law. He has been pardoned, yes, but being pardoned is not the same as clearing your name.

Anwar has also not owned up to the accusation levelled against him. He has never said that he doesn’t see anything wrong in what he has been accused of, much less express any remorse for it.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s “black eye” incident shortly after being dismissed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as deputy prime minister in 1998. (Pic credit: Malaysiakini)

Neither Dr Mahathir or the courts of law have admitted to any mistake or wrongdoing either.

It will certainly be difficult for Anwar to forgive those who have accused and sentenced him when they have not even admitted their mistake or wrongdoing.

For Anwar to maintain that he has forgiven those who accused and sentenced him although they have not admitted their wrongdoing, we will have to elevate him to a Mahatma (Gandhi)-level person.

We will have to see him as a person who has risen above worldly life and is thus no longer concerned about such worldly issues as reputation or identity.

I seriously doubt that anybody sees Anwar in that light. We see him as a leader or a member of the ruling class but we don’t see him as a Mahatma.

As a leader and a member of the ruling class, his reputation is likely his most important possession because everything else that he owns – like his titles, possessions, prestige and status – comes from his reputation.

Also, as a leader and a member of the ruling class, Anwar also must think his legacy. How will his children, grandchildren or followers feel if they have to continue identifying with him when he has not washed the stain on his reputation? How will history judge him if he doesn’t clear his name?

If Anwar does not act against Dr Mahathir when he has the power to act against the latter, it will appear that Mahathir’s allegations against Anwar are true.

To prove his innocence and show to the world that Dr Mahathir’s allegation against him is false, Anwar will have to act against Dr Mahathir. – Jan 3, 2024


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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