When asked to comment on Razaleigh’s call, Mahathir expressed his gratitude to those calling on him to continue leading Umno and the country and said that he is prepared “to do a KSM - kerja sampai mati - or work until I die'.
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would apparently have to wait for another three or four years until after the next general elections before he could ever hope to become the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia, and there is no guarantee that even if UMNO and Barisan Nasional manage to hang on to power in the next general elections, that Abdullah would be the successor to Mahathir.
Although Mahathir had publicly said that this would be his last term as Prime Minister, and before the last general election, had intimated that he would hand over the reins of the Prime Minister to Abdullah in mid-term, the politically astute can sense that Mahathir had begun to change his mind and that he would not so easily relinquish the highest office in the land.
Although this is not good news for the nation’s sake, it is the best news from the DAP and Barisan Alternative point of view.
This is because Mahathir has undoubtedly become the most unpopular Prime Minister in the nation’s history and even the most unpopular UMNO President in the party’s history if there is free and fair party elections in UMNO.
Although Razaleigh has his own reasons and calculations for making his unusual call to Mahathir to remain as Prime Minister and UMNO President until after the next general elections, he is right that Mahathir is the only “strong leader” left in the UMNO and government.
Unfortunately for Malaysia and the people, Mahathir is now “strong”
for the wrong reasons, as evident recently in:
There is the danger that having decided to abandon his earlier plan to hand over the office of the Prime Minister to Abdullah this year or next year and to continue into the next general election, Mahathir may also decide on an increasingly authoritarian rule and brook no obstacle to his grand design to continue with the government bailout of crony companies, buckle efforts to restore national and international confidence in the independence of the judiciary and stamp out dissent whether in the political opposition or civil society.