In his speech, Mahathir equated the aspirations of Malaysians for peaceful and democratic change and reforms with the Indonesian reformasi, riot, mayhem, murder and mob-rule and condemned Malaysians standing up for human rights, justice, rule of law and democracy as puppets of a White Man’s plot to re-colonise Malaysia.
Reducing all differences into a simple black and white, good and bad, terms may be an effective gambit to stir up UMNO delegates to dig in their toes for a last-ditch fight not only from the ramparts but also the trenches, it is definitely not a national recipe to unite both Malays and Malaysians to face up to the challenges of nation-building and globalisation in the new century.
Apart from the meaningless general admission that “the situation in Malaysia is not flawless”, there was no acknowledgement that in his two decades as Prime Minister, while there are achievements there have also been failings especially with the subversion of the independence and integrity of important institutions of government, plunging the country into a multiple crisis of confidence whether in nation building, the rule of law, economic or political governance.
Mahathir had courageously discussed the weaknesses of the Malays in education and business, but has he considered to what extent government policies in the past two decades had contributed to such weaknesses?
One thing Mahathir certainly has achieved - he has popularised the word “haprak” (idiots). Two weeks ago, former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Musa Hitam criticised “haprak nationalists” who claim to be nationalists but attack globalisation until isolating the society from universal goods.
Yesterday, Mahathir clearly used the term against his former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his followers, accusing them of being tools of the foreign neo-colonist plot to subjugate Malaysia and even by implication, Musa Hitam himself.
Who then is the “haprak nationalist” in Malaysia - Anwar Ibrahim, Musa Hitam or Mahathir Mohamad?