Yesterday, a certain United States (US) gentleman I am acquainted with requested that I participate in a “no holds barred” interview to address questions ranging from Malaysia’s relationship with China to the return of Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister of Malaysia. Upon agreeing to the request, the US chap and I pledged to keep a copy each of the interview recording and to publish its content later today.
However, for reasons best left untold, it was later decided that the identity of the US national (who I shall henceforth refer to as Mark) needed to be kept secret and for the transcript of the interview to be published instead. With that, following is the back and forth between me and Mark, the content of which shall be published in four consecutive parts and was structurally edited (very minimally though) for purposes of clarity.
Let’s start with a basic question, Raggie. Why are you so opposed to Mahathir?
I’m really not sure I can cover that question in one interview, Mark. What I can say though, is that Mahathir is bad news for the country for a multitude of reasons, the least among them being his determination to achieve stability by keeping everyone equally unhappy.
Stability by keeping everyone equally unhappy? I’ve never heard of such a thing…
Neither have the rest of our politicians, particularly those from UMNO. They’re groping in the dark, trying to lean on established doctrines and philosophies that are old-school to explain outcomes that are new-school. They’re confined to “a cocoon of perception” that has them thinking they’ve got it all figured out. They’re measuring dicks, really.
You’re dodging the question.
I was responding to your remark that you never heard such a thing as “stability by keeping everyone equally unhappy.” You never asked me to explain the concept. You simply made a declarative statement and gestured for a response.
Ok. So tell me, what makes you say that Mahathir achieved stability by keeping everyone unhappy?
“Equally” unhappy. Could we go with a little background first?
I suppose so.
Mahathir helms from the state of Kedah. His family bore strong anti-aristocratic traits, in that his father, Master Iskandar, traced his ancestry to Kerala, a place in India where inhabitants are largely communists. Communists are generally anti-aristocratic. Master Iskandar believed that the state of Kedah should have been freed from the shackles of aristocracy by the British before they left the country. He believed that the farmers and fishermen would forever be “handicapped” and incapable of venturing into domains monopolized by the Chinese as long as the rulers remained the heads of Islam.
In a sense, Islam was his problem.
But in another sense, the rulers were his real problem. Kedah came under British rule following the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. If my memory serves me well, the treaty stipulated that the state of Kedah would be transferred to the British within a predetermined period that required both the British and the Siamese to appoint officers for the purpose of negotiating and drawing borders. The then Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Abdul Hamid, was more than happy to accommodate a British presence irrespective what historical literatures say. I know this for a fact because the late ruler’s own flesh and blood, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, was almost like a brother to a former historian I knew and who the Tunku used to confide in.
Kennedy, the writer? He met up with (the) Tunku, I know that for a fact. Is that who you’re referring to?
Anyway, in the later years, Mahathir began displaying his father’s idiosyncrasies and blamed the Tunku’s ancestors for being stupid enough to hand over Penang and (the then) Province Wellesley to the British. He felt that the brighter Tunku would have been better off as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and head of Islam instead of being the Prime Minister of Malaysia. He believed that the concept of succession by kinship as practiced by rulers was outmoded and reflective of ancient Hindu cultures that did not apply to Muslims. He seemed to think that a prince who knew he was next in line of would generally be lazy and sink to a level of stupidity that disqualified him from being the head of Islam.
This is very, very interesting, if not fascinating. So are you saying that Mahathir is provoking the Muslims to put the ruler in his place?
If it comes to a point that a ruler is compelled to issue a decree against Mahathir’s wishes, a crisis will ensue. He will then use the crisis as basis to trigger constitutional reforms and strip the ruler of his right to appoint the Mufti. Once that happens, people like Dr Maza would get a free pass to promote Wahabism without restraint to ‘liberalise’ Muslim youths in time for the 15th general election.
You keep saying that. So the target is the youth?
Unless you’re blind, yes.
And believe me, three quarters of UMNO politicians and analysts were too egotistical and busy measuring their dicks to understand what he (Mahathir) was all about. They, with all their jazz about “the art of the deal,” “the art of war,” this and that…it left them totally out of sync with the word of the commoner, i.e., the third word. The only man who had his finger on the pulse of the nation and knew what was going on was Najib. But he, too, was surrounded by a bunch of mor*nic advisors who were more worried about their paycheques then they were about his wellbeing.
And please do forgive me Mark, but you did say this was a “no holds barred” interview, did you not? Well, this is no-holds barred for you. UMNO politicians became fools and ended up helping Mahathir bring an abrupt end to the era of the “Brown Englishman.”
As per our agreement, I’m fine with this. Go on
The late Tunku was the sixth…or was it the seventh…son of the late Sultan Abdul Hamid. The fact that he would never get to be ruler despite being wise, liberal and highly educated irritated Mahathir to the utmost degree. Mahathir felt that the palaces were breeding grounds for “intellectually backward” aristocrats who, upon becoming members of UMNO, brought along with them a culture of kinship and arbitrary authority. But when the Tunku became party president, Mahathir clung to a glimer of hope, confident that the culture of aristocracy would gradually dissipate into thin air.
None of that happened though.
As time went by, Mahathir saw that the Tunku was beholden to party elders who, for the most part, comprised aristocrats and village heads who were set in their feudalistic ways. The Tunku’s reluctance to reform their mindsets disillusioned Mahathir considerably. He began to believe that an aristocrat, no matter how educated or wise, would always have that chip on his shoulder and would forever retain some degree of “aristocratic stupidity.” Somewhere along the way, towards independence, Mahathir became absolutely disgusted with the late Tun Abdul Razak for insisting in 1951 that the Tunku be nominated for the post of UMNO president.
I thought Razak and Mahathir were warm with each other?
They were. But you’d think Mahathir was sincere.
I’m quite sure even Najib feels that way. I don’t really think anyone will really believe what I say, but neither do I mince my words. Mahathir became disillusioned with Razak even before the country gained independence. And that prompted him to become the second Third Force the country has ever seen.
To be continued…