Sunday, September 1, 2019

Mahathir and the Temptation of Going Low

The TIME magazine definition of "Person of the Year" is someone or something that in the course of the preceding year has for better or for worse done the most to influence the events of the year.

Extending the definition, one may, with huge doses of cynicism say that Mahathir earned the moniker of Person of Malaysia's Past Half-Century. My count, for some reason starts from 1969.

Stripped of all the hagiography that cloaks him from time to time, Mahathir is basically no different from all wannabe leaders in history. Hitler was one such wannabe. Perhaps, he was even a mischling.

The psyche of such wannabes is the hankering, desperate desire for inclusion into a larger group that, for whatever reason, spurn and shun the wannabe. Perhaps, over-eagerness is a tiresome thing. 

It appears that the lowest and, most effective, tool of wannabe politicians is the Us versus Them rhethoric. 

What the likes of Trump is doing in the United States of America is no different from what Mahathir has done throughout his chequered career and, most certainly, the most effective of all exponents of this Us versus Them tool was Adolf Hitler. 

It is easy, visually and viscerally, for a Malay to see the Chinese and Indians as being Them. It is an easy, low hanging fruit to peddle to the Malays.

So, in the race to the bottom, Mahathir is getting Bersatu to revert to the narrative he created for UMNO.

Our only hope is that wiser and more vulpine heads within Pakatan Harapan will do the needful to arrest this slippery slope that Mahathir has set Bersatu on.

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