OUTSPOKEN: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dismissed the foreign media for criticising Malaysia and MAS for their poor handling of the missing MH370; but underneath their concern, he must have realised that they are criticising his legacy of corruption. His ego must have been jolted when his accomplishments were exposed in such a terrible fashion.
Years of mismanagement, incompetency, misrule and false pride, all of which were allowed to fester during Mahathir’s regime, have now come home to roost. Do we feel sorry for Mahathir? No! Our hearts only go out to the families of the passengers and crew of MH370 and the MAS employees who have been let down by their senior management. We also feel for our country, which has been exposed to ridicule, because it has been mismanaged for several decades.
We reserve only feelings of pity and contempt for Mahathir, but we must face up to the sad fact that we are also to blame. We allowed things in our country to reach this terrible position. We allowed ourselves to be manipulated and we did not do enough to stop evil people from taking away our dignity. Our failure to take control and keep our leaders in check has manifested itself in the behaviour of the crisis management team for MH370.
Although Mahathir is correct to say that the situation is not helped by people postulating theories whilst the SAR operation is progressing, and that we should wait for the facts, he is wrong to say the SAR is being handled “very well”. It has been a shambles from the start.
Malaysians cannot avoid the heavy censorship of our papers, but Mahathir must have seen footage on foreign and cable television, or read foreign newspaper accounts of the bumbling and incoherent faces of Malaysian authority. Whilst in the spotlight, they try to wriggle their way out of answering legitimate questions from foreign journalists and relatives. It later transpired that journalists may not ask questions and families were forcibly prevented from speaking to the press.
Public relations is not our leaders’ forte. This lack of professionalism cannot explain the inconsistent statements, the retractions, the denials or the ‘tidak-apa’ attitude displayed by the chief of police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, when grilled about the stolen passport fiasco.
Mahathir said, “It is very easy to criticise but we are facing a situation that has never been experienced by any country in the world.
“If you say Malaysia failed (in handling the missing flight), that means the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and all those other countries (helping in the search and rescue) also fail, why don't you blame them also.” (sic).
Malaysia is known as one of the main hubs for human trafficking, the drug trade, counterfeit goods and match fixing. The police and related bodies are weak enforcers. The MACC manages to find the small fry but its net has holes which allow the big fish to escape. Mahathir compromised the judiciary and ever since then, justice has come at a price – literally. At least we have the best police force that money can buy.
Mahathir’s own personality flaws allowed him to be consumed with hate, and his race-based policies have all but destroyed our nation.
During Mahathir’s era, disgruntled armed forces staff often complained about promotions. They alleged that people were promoted not because they were courageous and distinguished, but because of their brilliance at sycophancy. This attitude neither motivates nor inspires loyalty.
From the MH370 crisis, we have seen that the chiefs of the armed forces at the MH370 press conferences are an embarrassment. Their pot-bellies make them appear unfit. When they open their mouths, their lack of fluency in English is shocking. If the chiefs of staff exude this air of decay and despondency, how can we have confidence in the lower ranks?
The British left us an enviable civil service, but Mahathir put paid to that. Today’s civil service is bloated with inefficient people who realise that they have a dream job for life and that no one can get rid of them. Mahathir encouraged tardiness.
The strongest condemnation of the SAR operation has come from overseas. Foreigners now realise the terrible conditions Malaysians have had to put up with for decades. Mahathir, like all of us, will learn in the coming months how the MH370 incident will affect our tourist trade, our foreign investment and our reputation abroad.
Criticism is one mechanism which allows us to work towards positive change. Mahathir dealt harshly with his detractors by silencing them with the ISA. Foreign critics working or living in Malaysia were simply deported.
Mahathir must hate the way globalism allows the easy dissemination of news. If he had his way, he would treat the foreign media as he used to treat the Malaysian press, with censorship and the withdrawal of their permits. Ironically, MH370 has delivered Malaysia’s shoddy administration into the living rooms of every foreigner. Mahathir has no control over international media and he cannot hide from them all the dirt that he does not want others to discover.
The hallmarks of Mahathir’s governance are lack of accountability, lack of responsibility and the haemorrhaging of taxpayers’ money. MAS has been bled dry. Has anyone in Mahathir’s administration been prosecuted for crimes against the people?
Malaysians embrace constructive criticism so that improvements can be made. We refuse to hide behind the veil of sensitivity. It is Mahathir who is blind and unable to see what others have seen. He refuses to take personal responsibility and would rather pretend that he has forgotten. The phrase he coined for the Malays, “Melayu mudah lupa”, is more appropriate for him, despite his origins of which he is deeply ashamed.
Mariam Mokhtar is "a Malaysian who dares to speak the truth."
~ The Ant Daily