In retrospect, Mahathir’s statement in Gua Musang in early April that he was prepared “to do a KSM - kerja sampai mati - or work until I die' probably reflected an important psychological decision he had taken, that he was not preparing a political exit as he had intimated previously that this would be his last term as Prime Minister, but on the other hand, he was going to dig his toes in to fight his last battle to restore his political lost ground, even if this means staying on to lead UMNO and Barisan Nasional into the next general election and beyond and again altering the succession scenario for the premiership.
It might not be a coincidence that it was at this period that he openly talked about his government’s preparedness to “break the international norms” on democracy and human rights, launched the Internal Security Act (ISA) crackdown against reformasi activists, openly advocated that a democracy should be ruled by a “semi-clean dictator”, packed off Tun Daim Zainuddin on a two-month “bizarre leave” as a prelude to his resignation as Finance Minister and UMNO Treasurer (which Daim never relinquished when he resigned as Finance Minister for the first time), gave the “green-light” to draft legislation to impose Internet censorship and approval to MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik to acquire Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press in the face of strong opposition by the Chinese community.
Is Mahathir brewing a “final solution” to his political woes which would be unveiled after the UMNO General Assembly and which would plunge the country into a new dark age of unprecedented crackdown on human rights and demoracy, to usher in an era of Malaysian democracy controlled by a “semi-clean dictator” which he recommended as a recipe for the Muslim countries to meet the challenges of the 21st century in his keynote address to the Emirates International Forum in Dubai in early April?
The unusual proposal most expectedly coming from the Deputy UMNO President and Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, that the UMNO leadership elections be delayed until after the next national general elections, together with the rumours swirling around Daim, the double resignations of Datuk Mokhzai Mahathir first from the corporate scene in April and then from his UMNO Youth Treasurer’s post recently, and the surprise delay in appointing a new Finance Minister purportedly because of difficulty in finding a “clean” and “uncontroversial” nominee seem to indicate an ominous brew in the making.
UMNO sources have said that Mahathir, in his UMNO presidential address on Thursday, would cover a wide range of issues, including Daim’s resignation from all government and party posts.
Would Mahathir explain the causes of the rift between Daim and him; whether it is true that he “knew nothing” about the Time dotCom IPO scandal, where some RM2 billion from the Pensions Trust Fund (KWAP), the Employees Provident Fund(EPF) and other government-linked agencies were misused in the bailout of Renong and Tan Sri Halim Saad; that he was “inadequately briefed” about the scandalous RM1.79 billion bail-out and buy-out of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) using public funds; whether Mokhzani Mahathir featured prominently in Daim’s resignation over his political and corporate setbacks; and whether the privatisation of Pos Malaysia decided when Daim was on leave was proof that although the two parted ways over government bail-out and buy-out of crony companies, it was not over policy differences but only with regard to who should be the beneficiaries and that the whole policy of government bailouts and buy-outs would remain largely intact despite the departure of Daim from government?
Finally, if Mahathir is brewing a “final solution” to the country’s political woes, he should seriously consider whether he could be the architect for such a “final solution” when he is himself the architect of the problems themselves!