By Jason Chin
THE Reformasi movement commenced in 1998 after Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad sacked his deputy, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. January 2018 marks the end of Reformasi.
The movement started off as a political campaign calling for the resignation of Mahathir but instead is calling for the reinstatement of Mahathir as the prime minister.
“Malaysia’s Mahathir, 92, eyes comeback in opposition he once crushed” is the headline in many major newspapers internationally.
“The authoritarian leader known for his acid tongue rules the country for 22 years until 2003, making him Malaysia’s longest-serving premier. He jailed opposition members without trial on security grounds in 1987 and was seen as an authoritarian figure who trampled over human rights” are words and descriptions used to describe Mahathir globally until today.
For years the Opposition rallying call is the abolishment of tolls once they come into power, but as usual there is a U-turn now. Dr. M now says toll charges needed to be maintained, as it is necessary to cover cost of reconstruction of new expressways and for maintenance of roads. Since he was ‘democratically’ chosen as the leader of Pakatan, I am sure all Pakatan members have agreed to this behind closed doors. Hence, there goes the ‘no toll’ down the drain. One less promise in Pakatan’s election manifesto.
DAP’s ageless leader Lim Kit Siang has been constantly probing the government’s protection for Proton and questioning the existence of Proton. In his blog, Kit Siang has said that it is not viable for a small country like Malaysia to sustain a car industry. He quoted from an external source saying that no country without a population and a GDP of at least US $500 billion has been able to sustain an independent, mass-market car manufacturer. He always felt that it is pointless pouring national resources into the car industry.
However, Mahathir today says that he intends to start a new Proton if Pakatan wins the upcoming general election. I extrapolate that the Opposition agrees with Mahathir since he is their prophecy of savior. Another U-turn on the cards for Kit Siang and another one more promise to be deleted from Pakatan’s election manifesto.
Mahathir insisted on setting up of Proton in the 80’s despite a no-go from his personal advisors. Last year, a former World Bank economist rejected the idea of setting up another national car manufacturing company in Malaysia, saying it will incur more losses to the country. However, Mahathir has always only done what he wants to do and this time it is going to be no different.
First no more BR1M, then later they said BR1M would be maintained. Then they said no more GST, but added that a Sales Tax would be brought to replace GST. How many more U-turns?
Looking at this trend, Pakatan’s election manifesto will have a lot of empty spaces this time around. Maybe they are saving these spaces to reveal their greatest offering of all, FREE English Football (EPL). What a forward thinking Government in waiting who has our socio economic well being in mind.
If Mahathir ever resumes office, Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail should start the sand clock. Her days would be numbered. In Mahathir’s books, she is the interim, not him. In the past he used ISA. Now, when he is in office he will use SOSMA. The opposition can go on opposing forever. Whether it is Barisan Nasional or Pribumi, they will always remain a loyal and fiery opposition.
Bobby Cohen and Alex Kurtzman (the producers of Now You See Me) should perhaps consult Mahathir on their next installment of the movie. There are not many better illusionists than Mahathir in this world.
*The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Times (TMT).