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Mahathir's dilemma and his 'retribution'

  • Mahathir repeatedly preyed on such balancing mechanisms to greedily expand his power scope, creating an infinitely powerful ruling machinery, only to discover the gravity of the problem after bowing out and later confronting the sitting government. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily

Mahathir is getting tough with PM Najib, and is determined to go back to the political frontline by setting up a new party and fix up the opposition alliance.

That nevertheless has produced hardly any positive result. Najib's position is still rock solid and the ex-PM is obviously the underdog, seeing his son Mukhriz removed from Kedah MB post and then kicked out of Umno.

Such setback has been unprecedented in Mahathir's political career. Even though he was momentarily disadvantaged at times, he could always turn the tide around and claim the last laugh.

From his ouster by Tunku to facing the challenges from Umno's Team B, he had his way to sail past misfortunes unhurt, no matter how bad they were. Even Anwar's Reformasi failed to take him out of office.

For all his years at the pinnacle of Malaysian politics, Mahathir had been the veritable victor. But not this time, when he has to confront Najib.

His political trophies could be largely attributed to his exceptional tactics and unexpected strategies, but a more decisive factor was his total command of the power that allowed him to have the enormous space and the useful channels and "tools" to deal with his challengers.

To ensure total command of the power, Mahathir had on numerous occasions lambasted the country's checks-and-balances mechanisms, the most classical example being the removal of former Supreme Court lord president Tun Salleh Abas pursuant to the constitutional crisis he singlehandedly nurtured.

In this country the legislative and executive powers are almost held in the hands of the ruling coalition, and from here it is not hard to visualize the excessive power of the government head. Because of this, we need more than ever an independent judiciary and other balancing mechanisms to curtail over-concentration and inflation of administrative power.

Unfortunately Mahathir repeatedly preyed on such balancing mechanisms to greedily expand his power scope, creating an infinitely powerful ruling machinery, only to discover the gravity of the problem after bowing out and later confronting the sitting government.

Some say this is Mahathir's "retribution" but the thing is, while he was indeed the man who sowed the seed of catastrophe, it is the whole citizenry that have to suffer the consequences, including our future generations.

Mahathir's dilemma serves as a stern warning to all Malaysians, including those currently in power, to construct and preserve effective checks-and-balances, because no one can tell on which side of the balance an incumbent leader will stand in the future.

 

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