Sunday, July 23, 2006

What Game Is Dr Mahathir Playing?

From third world dictator likened to Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe to 'neo-freedom fighter', Dr. Mahathir indeed has come a long way!

If five years ago someone had predicted that Mahathir would be the voice for free speech and he would be criticising the mainstream media for selective coverage, chances are the person would have been adviced to have his head examined by a psychiatrist at Kamunting.

How valid is his remonstration against the Pak Lah government? In fact his diatribe against, and implied 'interference' in, the current administration can form a good case study for a student of political science. How far should an incumbent go in publicly castigating his annointed successor? Is Pak Lah in any way duty bound to carry on with Mahathir's projects and by extension his 'legacy'?

One argument that often surfaces from Mahathir's detractors is that, he of all people should not condemn this government because of the 'atrocities' of his regime. They say that he had almost institutionalised corruption and cronyism, muzzled the press and frightened and cowed the people into deafening silence. They further imply that expressly because of his mismanagement of public funds and extravagant spending, among others on so-called 'mega' projects, that the present government is saddled with so many problems. If the prices and tariffs of some items had to be raised, then Mahathir has a lot of blame to shoulder for that. The sacking of Anwar and the creation of Keadilan was thus a consequent rallying point for mass dissatisfaction against this 'gross abuse' of power by him and his comrades in arms. Therefore he had long ago forfeited any right to find fault with this or any future government.

Is Mahathir's condemnation and fault-finding merely the rantings of a disappointed ex-leader or is it just the opening gambit in a long-drawn chess game? If not what other game is Mahathir playing?

Then comes the inevitable and nagging question. Where does Najib fit into all this? Is he the innocent bystander overwhelmed by the turn of events or is he an active participant for one side or the other or both? There is an interesting article in Malaysiakini which implies that Najib may be gathering his forces, by Kim Quek (Note: Wait for a few seconds after clicking, for the article to appear.)

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