Let’s get straight to the point. Malaysia is a paradise for cronies and crooks. The nation suffers from politicians and leaders who are infected with a culture of lying. Hypocrisy rules. The majority of people are apathetic. They only moan among close friends. They tolerate most injustices because they do not wish to offend, or refuse to be seen as controversial or different.
From the few reviews one has read, it seems that the documentary “M for Malaysia” may as well be named “M for Mahathir”. Old foes may have joined forces to kick out a bitter rival, but do not underestimate the Malaysian public. They may have hidden behind a veil of silence and their faces may reveal nothing, but they can see through the mendacity. They voted Pakatan Harapan to forge a new course for the country.
Did the rakyat kick out disgraced Najib Abdul Razak because of their love for Dr Mahathir Mohamad (or his former deputy, Anwar Ibrahim)? No. The Malaysian public is quite astute and only used the tools (and personalities) that were available to make the best of a bad job. They are using the key people just as they were once used.
So, do I need to watch a film which one reviewer said was a good reminder for politicians to accept and acknowledge the facts of why the rakyat voted for them in GE14 in May 2018? No, I don’t. Malaysians know why they kicked out “Umno Baru” in GE14.
A scroll through the credits for the film is sufficient to deter some Malaysians, especially those whose lives were severely affected by Mahathir’s earlier policies. The film is directed and produced by Mahathir’s eldest granddaughter, Ineza Roussille, and Dian Lee, the daughter of the property tycoon Lee Kim Yew, who enjoys close ties with Mahathir. Mahathir’s daughter, Marina, is the executive producer. This is a family affair. So, what is new?
One social pundit said, “Is this a biography of the old man disguised as a ‘must-see’ film about democracy in Malaysia?”
Mahathir’s first tenure as the fourth prime minister was riddled with cronyism and nepotism, the politics of fear, division and exclusivity and the use of religion to put Malaysia on the slippery slope to perdition.
Many Umno Baru diehards accuse Mahathir of being a dictator but throughout the 80s and 90s they condoned his policies, they supported him and they gave him the patronage he craved. Some were in his cabinet. They were furious with him at GE14 and turned against him only because he wanted to get rid of their beloved leader, Najib.
Najib was their patron and protector, just as Mahathir had once been Umno Baru and Najib’s main benefactor. In politics, everyone, including foreigners like Dr Zakir Naik, have their uses.
To explain the current state of Malaysia, we must get to the heart of the matter. The corruption catastrophes in Malaysia. The politics of fear and hate, our silence, our hypocrisy and the lack of the rule of law, are all not an overnight phenomenon. The methods of corruption were tuned during Mahathir’s first tenure as PM.
The Internet was not around in the 80s and 90s to enable people to be aware of the scandals. Younger Malaysians are probably not aware of previous corruption scandals. After all, Umno Baru has managed to alter our history and corrupt the morals of many historians.
Overseas Malaysians also bear the mental scars of his rule. Families were divided when their offspring were denied opportunities, simply because they were non-Malay and not Muslim. Ask the promising non-Malay students who were once in Universiti Malaya or the non-Malay lecturers who taught there and at the Mara colleges.
Today, many non-Malays, who are leaders in the fields of science and medicine and have patented many inventions, have given their adopted countries the publicity which Malaysia should have received. Instead, we take our place in the league of nations known for their corruption.
During Mahathir’s rule in the 1980s, money politics was allowed to proliferate. The people in power did nothing to stop or minimise corruption. The cabinet, some of whom have been re-elected as MPs, benefited from his protection.
The institutions which could have stopped money politics, such as the law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and the investigative bodies, were compromised. Their ineptitude exacerbated the problem. Their default excuse was, “I had to protect my periuk nasi” (rice pot).
Umno Baru created many of the problems with which we are now saddled with. Najib was a good pupil and learnt from his mentor, Mahathir, who handpicked him to lead Malaysia.
Perhaps it is true that there are no honest politicians. So if you doubt the value of integrity and in being honest in our everyday lives, then ponder the consequences of the lies of Najib and Umno Baru politicians.
Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Today, Umno Baru is being reincarnated under the Bersatu banner and the solution is simple. You can put a stop to it.
Keep speaking up and do not falter. There is safety in numbers. It is preferable to have Harapan and whip its politicians into shape than to suffer the nightmare and lies of Umno Baru/PAS.