WE would like to apologise to our readers for the lapse in coming out with a new posting. However, due to unavoidable circumstances we will try to come out with one as often as possible.
For this posting we focus on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the man who once was labelled the ultra-Malay, and yet whose 22 years of administration had brought prosperity to the nation and its people beyond racial and religious lines. If at all, it was those who had labelled him ultra-Malay, who benefited most from his policies.
Today, for his “frankness”, Dr Mahathir is once again labelled racist, and mostly by the same people who had benefited from his premiership, aided by Malay apologists.
THE rousing welcome accorded Dr Mahathir when he attended the Perkasa gathering in Pasir Mas, Kelantan on Saturday, Sept 25, 2010, should provide enough reason for racists and Malay apologists in the country to start foaming in their mouths.
While they froth, they may want to take a few steps back and re-assess their position for the foam extricated from their mouths may be wrongly interpreted as due to seizure and not that of anger.
Firstly, the Malays and Bumiputeras, and the non-Malays next, must understand why the racist and chauvinist elements as well as the Malay apologists have been incessantly targeting Dr Mahathir.
They accuse Dr Mahathir of being racist. What is their basis for such an accusation?
For supporting Perkasa? For speaking up for the Malays? For speaking out against racist elements such as Dong Jiao Zhong, Suqiu, Hindraf and the likes?
Or is it because what he says is true and he says it as it is with no apologies attached?
Let’s look at Dr Mahathir as being a Malay first above everything else.
Trace his track record since he came into the political limelight. Had he not been a Malay nationalist (though it is popularly referred to as being racist nowadays) throughout?
The question is, is being a Malay nationalist equal to being a racist?
When he took over the Prime Ministership, his policies were pro-Malay/Bumiputera, intended to boost their confidence.
A specific example is the Proton national car project. It is targeted as a holistic project for the Malays/Bumiputeras in breaking their mindset of being doomed to hold on to their traditional domain of being civil servants and tilling the land.
It was not by chance that the automotive industry was targeted. Cars were social status or status symbol to the Malays/Bumiputeras.
What better way to rally the community out of their mental shackles other than “attacking” the status symbol.
With young Malays/Bumiputeras making cars and selling them, their association with the status symbol had been re-defined, from being consumers to producers – elevating the community’s status as a whole and reducing the awe towards the symbol itself.
Similarly in Dr Mahathir’s other ventures and policies – “Buy British Last”, the pre-dawn raid of the London stock exchange (though Khalid Ibrahim would claim that he was the architect behind the move forgetting that without Dr Mahathir the idea would be stillborn. Let’s see Khalid try something like that now that he is the Selangor Mentri Besar. The last heard about his leadership is anything to be proud about) and even taking back Bukit Carcosa from the British High Commission – all were aimed at liberating the Malays/Bumiputeras from their subservience and inferiority.
These traits of Dr Mahathir’s administration were persistent throughout his 22 years of Prime Ministership.
The tallest building, the largest airport, the iconic administrative centre in Putrajaya and the F1 circuit were superstructures symbolising the birth of a new civilisation.
No doubt there have been many so-called Malay thinkers and opposition leaders who had dismissed these projects as waste of public funds and not contributing to the mental growth of the community.
They then should be reminded that all civilisations are structurally linked – the Pyramids, the Hanging Garden of Babylon, Borobudur and Angkor Wat, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, the Empire State building and the list goes on and on.
And for those who profess that they are Muslim first and Malay last, the Kaabah is the iconic structure associated with Mecca, the kiblat where Muslims point their prayer to five times a day, and a place tat is compulsory for every Muslim who can afford it to go at least once in their lifetime.
To the very last days of his premiership, Dr Mahathir did not stop in his efforts to prove that the Malay/Bumiputeras were not lacking, were equal and as capable as the rest of the world.
His taking on the currency traders and coming up with the capital controls to overcome the financial crisis at that time epitomises the courage and leadership of a Malay/Bumiputera who was not going to be intimidated or subservient to the Western bullies.
It was unheard of any Malay/Bumiputera leader who had stood up as tall and probably more equal than equal to the Western world. For that matter, it was unheard of any Asian or Arab leader taking on the Westerners at their own game.
The non-Malays would probably by now ask what is in it for them as citizens of Malaysia while Dr Mahathir was busy trying to empower and boost the confidence of the Malays/Bumiputeras.
The attention to the Malay/Bumiputera plight are actually an admittance of the race lagging behind the non-Malays.
In short there is nothing superior or dominant about an ethnicity which has to depend on specific policies to encourage and spur them in their socio-economic standing.
While these were being pursued by Dr Mahathir, the non-Malays were never sidelined, made partners and on most occasions to take the lead in spearheading the economic opportunities heaped upon the Malay/Bumiputera.
Prior to 1997, the economic cake was enlarged and all the races prospered, more so the Chinese.
Even when the economy suffered setbacks due to the financial crisis, the non-Malays, especially the Chinese continued to strongly back Dr Mahathir, if not from altruistic affinity, definitely for the trust in his capability to help them to continue to prosper.
The non-Malays showed this by rallying behind Dr Mahathir and Barisan Nasional in the 1999 general election ensuring they retained their two-thirds majority.
As pointed out it is doubtful that the non-Malays rallied behind Dr Mahathir purely because of their affinity for him. More than anything, they supported him because they believed his policies will prosper them and as they indeed had since he took over in 1981.
The non-Malay support enjoyed by Dr Mahathir during his reign was an affirmation of the community towards his leadership and his policies.
To put it simply, they did not find his policies racist despite the emphasis on the Malay/Bumiputera interests.
The non-Malays were more than happy to live under such arrangement as they prospered beyond what their forefathers could imagine or dreamt of achieving even in their countries of origin.
It was achieved in a country which contemporary history named at its birth as the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu.
Next - Part Two: Dismantling the Mahathir Legacy – Deeds of Mediocre Leadership and Racist Politicians.