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Mahathir ‘magic’ in Yemen only if…

 | June 16, 2012

Dr Mahathir Mohamad found his elixir for political longevity when Umno 46 was declared illegal, and he learnt new lessons on how to run the country.


Yemen wants to learn the secrets of unlocking value from Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Well, if the man leading Yemen has similar characteristics like Mahathir, then Yemen stands a chance.

Yemen is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the Arab world, but it has oil, minerals, oil palm and rubber. Maybe Mahathir can apply his magic.

But then this too is subject to ifs.

Precondition one is if Yemen has a political system where power is concentrated in the hands of a few or one man (this would be even better).

The other precondition is: Yemen must rid itself of any romance with organic growth of its indigenous people.

Mahathir works best if the system allows for cronyism.

To understand what it is that Mahathir wants to bring to Yemen, we must understand what Mahathirism is.

Mahathirism is the application of Mahathir’s thinking on matters of state.

Now what this means only Mahathir knows and unless he has confided in God, then God also knows.

But we can identify its (Mahathirism) main tenets. Applied to politics it’s the concentration of power in the hands of a few people.

When Umno 1946 was made illegal, Mahathir found himself without a party. He ceased also to become chairman of Barisan Nasional.

So how can a man, during that interlude, still remain a prime minister without a political party?

In the history of politics only an outright dictator does not require a political party to become head of state.

Conniving Mahathir

Mahathir found his elixir for political longevity when Umno 46 was declared illegal. The illegality of Umno 46 gave Mahathir new lessons on how to run the country.

He didn’t want to use any legal provisions available or any prerogative available to revive the old Umno.

Because to do so would result in a re-election which could very well see him forced into retirement.

What he learnt from the episode was that he could rule without being fettered by the niceties of democratic tenets.

That brief interlude during which Mahathir was without a political party taught Mahathir that he could become a dictator in a totalitarian state.

He then sets out to carve out the new politics of Malaysia that has become known as Mahathirism – totalitarianism disguised behind the mask of democracy.

Then MCA president Dr Ling Liong Sik was asked to chair that meeting to reinstate Mahathir as BN chairman, so that Mahathir could still become prime minister.

You see, Mahathir wasn’t interested in Umno.

After Ling, his lapdog, did what he was told, Mahathir formed a new pliant party full of half-past six fellows in a new Umno.

That new Umno became a tool serving to legitimise Mahathir’s vision.

‘Instant’ Mahathir

Apply Mahathirism to economics, it’s cronyism – the parcelling out of revenue earning assets and licences to the select few. These few will serve as the umbrellas beneath which lesser mortals seek succour.

When Mahathir took over, it signalled the end of organic growth of Malay economics.

Mahathir doesn’t believe in organic growth – he wants everything fast. He wants to jump-start. He wants to bypass.

So, in came a few advisers, among them was of course Daim Zainudin who came up with the idea of selecting winners.

Organic growth is too slow to achieve the targets of the National Economic Policy (NEP).

The 30% quota and requirements were quickly replaced by the Mahathirnomics strategy of blitzkrieging the economy.

This was done by choosing a few running dogs to spearhead the Malay economy.

Out goes the 30% organic growth method and in came the closed tender system, the direct negotiations style and other forms of piratisation of the Malaysian economy by some selected buccaneers.

I can only offer sympathies to those who are jumping up and down joyfully thinking Yemen will be saved.

The writer is a former Umno state assemblyman but joined DAP earlier this year. He is a FMT columnist.


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