By: Kassim Ahmad
10 June, 2006
It has been brewing for some time and it has now come out fully in the open. This debate is healthy and good. Everybody knows what mettle Mahathir is made of. Says Tengku Razaleigh, “Mahathir cannot be influenced by anyone, no one can silence him. He is not afraid of anyone and I admire a man like that.”
Pak Lah’s so-called “quiet elegance” about Mahathr’s criticism of his administration cannot resolve the matter. Most government ministers’, ex-ministers’ and some veteran UMNO politicians’ statements and comments, unfortunately, do not help also. Like everybody else, Tun Dr. Mahathir has a right to make comments on the way the Government is running the country. Nobody should say that he should not “interfere” or criticize him for making his unhappiness public. As he rightly said, “I want answers to my questions.” Have these questions been answered? No, they have not.
Apparently, deeper questions that may affect the country’s independence and sovereignty are at stake. These have to be properly and wisely resolved. Tengku Razaleigh’s statement (The Sun, June 8, p. 2) plus Dr. Mahathir’s own answer (The Star, 10 Jun, pp. 1& 3) throw some light on the matter. It boils down to two things. The economy is not moving. Some sinister hands with a different agenda are at work behind Pak Lah.
It is, of course, correct that Pak Lah is the head of the party and the Government, and he should be allowed to lead the country as well as he can. He himself has said so, albeit sometime boasting about his huge mandate, which he should not have done, being the unassuming man that we know him to be. But man can change. Pak Lah should guard against this danger.
We can thank our lucky stars that Malaysia is a blessed country. This does not come all by accident. It is the result of wise leadership, a supportive and loyal citizenry and, of course, some luck. But we cannot push our luck too far. We must dare to confront important questions of policy and resolve them in the proper manner, and not let them fester for fear of “confrontation”, or worse still, distract the attention of the people to trivial issues and thereby let down our guard and allow the enemy to ruin our nation.
We must not forget that we are still living in a very dangerous world of Anglo-American unilateralism. In Washington and London, seats of power are filled by veritable fascists. The world economy and financial system are collapsing around us. While we should befriend everyone and work together with our neighbours, the United Nations, and the big powers, including China, Russia and India to build a better, just and more peaceful world, we should be extremely wary and vigilant against Anglo-American hegemony manifesting in various guises.
As leaders of the party and the Government, Pak Lah and the other UMNO and Barisan leaders must understand the awesome responsibility that they shoulder towards the nation. They must be highly vigilant and stand resolutely on principle in matters of the country’s sovereignty and independence. Tun Dr. Mahathir, many of our enlightened intelligentsia, and our good citizenry are invaluable assets to our country. Do not leave any of these important elements out. Use them wisely.
Kassim Ahmad is a Penang-based free-lance writer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is