So here’s the thing.
I was a big, Big, BIG fan of Tun Mahathir.
I’m now 41 years of age, meaning that when I first (thought I) had some sort of understanding on what a country’s government does, it was sometime in the mid to late 90’s when I was coming to the tail-end of my teenage years.
But my admiration of his leadership actually came much earlier.
As a kid, I marveled as my family drove over the Penang Bridge, at that time the 3rd longest bridge in the world (or was it in Asia?).
Not to mention saluting him for realizing the PLUS highway, which reduced our balik kampung time to Kedah by 5 to 6 hours.
And, when I first saw a glimpse of the first Proton Saga. I wanted Bapak to buy one so badly, but he had already bought a Nissan Sunny 130Y a year before the Saga was launched. So no, didn’t have one at home.
Then, fast forward to the mid and late 90’s, I felt proud as Malaysia was home to the world’s tallest building(s), the Petronas Twin Towers.
Around that same time, I felt proud that we were the only country in SEA to peg our currency from being further susceptible to speculators during the economic crisis. And that we refused the IMF loan. And that we were technically the first country to come out of the crisis.
And how I thought he had to make a very difficult decision to jail his deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, for purported ‘sodomy’ and also for ‘quietly conspiring with the US in a plot to overthrow him.’ I also said ‘padan muka’ to all the Reformasi protesters when they were beaten and hosed down by the FRU for going against the government.
And on the final year before the turn of the century, my admiration hit its peak when my idol Michael Schumacher came to our shores to race his Ferrari on our spanking new F1 circuit.
Special mention too on how he handled Stephen Sackur on BBC HardTalk.
So, yes, I was a BIG fan of Tun Mahathir…
…until social media unearthed all the ugly, dirty truths behind all the glories and milestones I was once so proud of.
About how PLUS was a crony project.
About how Proton was just a tool to enrich his cronies through the providence of substandard quality spare parts, among other dubious deals and arrangements. And by association, the imposition of obscenely high import and excise duties on other cars to boost Proton’s sales. And how one lady in his administration held major control of all the APs (approved permit) for imported cars and their dealerships.
About how in the mid 90’s Bank Negara became technically bankrupt and had to be rescued by MOF after losing RM30billion due to FOREX speculative currency trading.
And coincidentally around the same time, how a crony was forced to buy over MAS shares at a much higher price, resulting in our national airline from having RM600million in reserves to accumulating over RM9.4billion in losses within a span of just 7 years.
And during the years when I was just a kid, loans totaling RM2.5billion from Bank Bumiputera were issued to vague companies with even more vague track records like the Carrian Group in Hong Kong, and an Assistant Manager that was out to investigate the transactions was murdered.
And how in the first year of Tun’s premiership, the same bank gave RM1.5billion (this is 80s currency yea) to a new company called Maminco, set-up to control tin prices at the London Stock Exchange. The eventual losses due to the tin price drop and the losses later being absorbed by EPF resulted in a RM1.6 billion loss of tax payers’ money.
And how every square-foot of tile and every piece of built-in furnishing in Twin Towers had to go through his son’s company. Even the land KLCC stands proudly on today was bought from a crony friend.
And Michael Schumacher? Well, he raced on a racetrack of which the building and management contract was also awarded to his son.
The list of cronyism and nepotism goes far beyond what I’ve written here. They never made it to the press back in the days. Those that tried had their publishing license revoked, and people were sent to jail or detention for trying to do so.
So I have to say both ‘Thank You’ and ‘F**k You’ to Social Media.
Thank you for exposing the ugly truth behind what I thought were all glorious achievements.
F**k you for ruining my childhood aspirations, and ruining my admiration for whom I thought was a visionary and revolutionary man.
You know, I don’t deny the fact that DS Najib may have some dubious deals behind his 10-year tenure as Prime Minister. But our current PM was far dirtier for an additional 12 years in power (22 years overall). And at 93, it doesn’t look like he’s turned a new leaf at all.
So my problem isn’t about him giving people the perception that PM6 was dirty. My problem is with him portraying PM4 and PM7 as being saintly clean.
To all the young ones out there, learn from this.
Know who’s really at the helm of our country, and let that be part of your thinking process the next time you cast a vote.