(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): The latest Asiaweek interview of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is a great disappointment to Malaysians who had hoped that he would have learnt the lessons as to why there have been a continued erosion of political support for UMNO and Barisan Nasional since the last general election in November 1999.
This may have become increasingly too tall an order for Mahathir if we judge him from his latest Cabinet reshuffle and the Asiaweek interview.
As a DAP and Barisan Alternative leader, I have many reasons to be happy about the Cabinet reshuffle, which shows that Mahathir is a victim of the double "denial" and "besieged" syndrome and is incapable of responding to the popular aspirations for far-reaching political, economic and social reforms to restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance and the net result must be increasing alienation of Malaysians from all races, religions and walks of life from UMNO and Barisan Nasional.
As a Malaysian, however, I find this distressing because it can only mean that there is still no light at the end of the tunnel to bring an early and quick solution to the multiple crisis of confidence afflicting the country, especially with Malaysia facing an economic downturn this year with growth forecast going as low as 4.8 per cent, so that Malaysia would be able to restore its international competitiveness in the global marketplace.
Mahathirís interview in the latest edition of Asiaweek, (issue of 26th January 2001) which is now available on the Internet, has only confirmed the double "denial" and "besieged" syndrome of the Prime Minister, especially, when he answered twice "I just donít care" and "I donít care", first to the question: "Many people who have admired you in the past say that you are ending your career on a low note: as an authoritarian figure who destroyed his deputy, tolerated cronyism and unreasonably fought globalization. Does this sadden you?" and the last question: "What do you think you will be remembered for?" This is most pathetic.
In the interview, Mahathir continued to blame Anwar Ibrahim for
all his political problems and UMNOís woes, accusing Anwar of trying
to topple him as Prime Minister, when he said:
Mahathir may be politically justified to remove Anwar as a political rival, but there could be no excuse or justification for the subversion of the integrity and professionalism of the public service and all the independent organs of government to serve his political wishes to destroy his political enemy.
In refusing to admit that corruption, cronyism and nepotism, where the New Economic Policy and the National Development Policy had been perverted into a welfare fund for a few politically well-connected as illutrated by the latest government RM1.79 billion buy-out "bail-out" of Tan Sri Tajudin Ramliís 29.09 per stake in MAS, and the subversion of all the independent organs of government, the rule of law, democratic liberties and human rights, Mahathir continues to be the root cause of his own political dilemma and why UMNO has continued to lose public support after the 1999 general election.
Mahathirís repetition in the interview of his baseless allegation that "Some Chinese are extremists" because of their support for "meritocracy", clearly referring to the Suqiu election appeals which was "approved in principle" by the Barisan Nasional parties and the Cabinet before the general election, is evidence that the Prime Minister and the Barisan Nasional leadership are not prepared to learn from the Barisan Nasional debacle in the Lunas by-election.
In the Asiaweek interview, Mahathir acknowledged that "his party has lost its way and that he is no longer master of his countryís fate". This is the tragedy of a political leadership that is suffering from the double "denial" and "besieged" syndrome, refusing to yield to the aspirations of the people for reforms and continuing to compound errors which can only alienate more Malaysians from UMNO and Barisan Nasional - such as the ham-fisted handling of the SJK © Damansara relocation issue, the precipitate revival of the Bakun dam project and the series of corporate shenanigans reeking with cronyism, bad corporate governance and the sacrifice of the interests of minority shareholders like the restructuring of Renong-UEM, the Tajudin Ramli "bailout" and the RM 6 billion bail-out of the two Light Rail Transport companies, STAR and Putra.