Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mahathir’s ‘Second Coming’ In Malaysia: Mixed Lessons For Sri Lanka!


Lukman Harees
“Malaysia Boleh” or “Malaysia Can Do It” which evolved as a national slogan in the early 1990s appear to have re-emerged in the run up to the recent Malaysian elections. Mahathir Magic worked as a result ,when he as head of an Opposition Alliance ‘Pakatan Harapan’, made an extraordinary political comeback as Malaysia’s leader at the age of 92,, thus ending the six-decade rule of PM Najib Razak’s party in a landmark shift for this Southeast Asian Muslim nation. Mahathir Mohamad, whose historic win was helped in no small part by his legacy as part of the old guard of Asian politics and grandfather of the nation announced,’ “We are not seeking revenge, we want to restore the rule of law”. Thus, in one of the biggest U-turns of his 70-year career in politics , he therefore signalled that he is ready to hand over power to Anwar Ibrahim, a popular opposition figure whom he sacked as his deputy in the 1990s.
The elections was dominated by a widely known investigation into allegations that billions were siphoned from a state investment fund, 1MDB, and laundered through foreign bank accounts,which scandal had ramifications even beyond Malaysia’s boundaries. The historic political revolutionary change probably would not have occurred but for the brazen excesses of and alleged widespread corruption alluded to ousted Prime Minister Najib and his high spending wife, which were too much even for the high-living UMNO elite to stomach.
During his earlier reign(1981-2003), Mahathir’s track record was not without blemishes; many criticised his chequered rule. But love him or hate him, no one can deny that Mahathir had nothing but fierce love for Malaysia. Mahathir’s earlier legacy thus made the Malaysians to flock together to re-elect him despite his advanced age. Mahathir’s definition of independence surely struck a chord with the voters, leading them  to give him the mandate yet again: “Independence means we enjoy freedom. We are not colonised by people. And we can govern our own country and develop it independently so that our people can live a better life.” The phenomenal growth of Malaysia under the leadership of Mahathir has brought about a patriotic sense of achievement amongst its people. A large portion of the Malaysian electorate possess lasting affection and respect for him because of various successes. Mahathir engineered rapid economic growth. He shifted the country’s economy from agriculturally based to a more industrialised one. He created a sense of civic and national pride through projects such as national car Proton, the Sepang Formula One circuit and, of course, the Petronas Twin Towers, still the tallest twin skyscrapers in the world. Mahathir unleashed the Reformasi movement that at one point saw citizens tear-gassed on the streets of the capital. He is now the leader that Malaysians yearning for change are banking on. For Malaysians, Mahathir’s return to power is more than a palace coup; it is a new era of hope. He also spearheaded Islamic banking institutions too. 

One of the true visionaries of the age, Mahathir Mohamad is revered and feared, the world over, for his explicit opinions regarding the ideologies of the West .The Look East Policy was his brain child, aimed in emulating some characteristics of other neighbouring nations. But the principle goal was a shift in focus of relation from the West, in particular, Britain, towards the new rising Asia, specifically, Japan. It economic influence to Malaysia was profound both positively, and also negatively. One of the main focuses of Mahathir on the policy was the Malaysian emulation of East Asian ethics. Economically speaking, he wanted Malaysia to adopt some principles from Japan. He believed that Malaysia should follow the example of Japan Inc. and create the Malaysia Inc., where both government and the private sector worked together to achieved a common economic goal. However, although the policy was not effective in changing the values of the Malays, it did bring out a change in direction from looking to the West towards looking to the East.