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The apology: good or bad?

  • Whatever wrongs Mahathir did as PM were done in the name of Umno, and a number of current Umno leaders in the government were part of his team then.

By Mohsin Abdullah

A lot has been said and continue to be said as to why he said it.

So I will not go into it. Neither will I go into if he was sincere in saying it. Or whether saying it is enough.

I'm talking about the apology that is setting many tongues wagging now. Tun Mahathir Mohamad's apology for his "past wrongdoings" when he ran the country for 22 years as prime minister.

Instead, let's talk about the effects the apology brings to the opposition coalition Mahathir currently leads.

Is it good or bad for Pakatan Harapan? Will the consequences, so to speak, help PH win the election?

Detractors first. They say the apology is not sincere and not enough.

But then how does one determine "sincerity"? And when is enough well enough?

To expect Mahathir to right the wrongs of the past which are still in place is "illogical". Or should it be "far fetched"?

Why? Simply because he is not in power at present.

Yes, he can promise (which incidentally he has) to do this and that, when or if Pakatan Harapan does win GE14.

Still, pledges and promises can and will be questioned by detractors.

I did not seek to get views from people who support the apology. We would somehow know what to expect.

Hence I spoke to some friends who are supposed to be "neutrals", but many didn't want to say specifically if the apology would be good or bad for the opposition.

However, they did say by apologizing, Mahathir (who all this while seems reluctant to say sorry) had put Pakatan Harapan leaders at ease and on easy ground.

Now the leaders are free to say the former PM had atoned for his past "sins" and "now is the time to move on to fight the common enemy".

That should please many, including their own supporters who all the while wanted an apology from Mahathir.

Now that they have got what they wanted, they should be happy.

As we know before Mahathir's apology, Pakatan Harapan's leaders were in a spot being accused of sacrificing their principles and tolerating Mahathir's past misdeeds.

Such accusations are behind them now.

Then, there's this thing about Mahathir saying that apologizing is a Malay thing.

Detractors were quick to pounce, playing down the apology, suggesting Mahathir doing something "routine". Hence no big deal.

However, by highlighting the "Malay-ness ", Mahathir has somehow subtly said if to apologize is Malay then to accept one's apology is also Malay. Or to put it "universally", to err is human, to forgive divine.

Perhaps that prompted Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim to declare that Umno has no problem accepting Mahathir's apology, which is a bit odd because Mahathir's apology was not meant for Umno per se, and whatever wrongs Mahathir did as PM were done, relatively speaking, in the name of Umno, and a number of current Umno leaders in the government were part of his team then.

If indeed there was guilt, then they too must share it with their former president. Wouldn't they?

Anyway, that the apology is a Malay culture thing should go down well with the Malays.

Bear in mind that Mahathir is already creating some kind of impact on the community, especially in rural areas where the opposition previously struggled to penetrate.

Yet, there's is no denying that there are quite many Malays who feel saying sorry is not enough.

Even without the apology Umno sees Mahathir as a big threat, judging from the non-stop daily onslaughts on the former PM.

Put it simply, Umno leaders will not pay special attention to somebody who poses no danger to them. Will they?

(Mohsin Abdullah is a veteran journalist who writes about this, that and everything else.)



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