Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

My father is 76 this year. He is still as sharp as ever. He only learnt to use a smartphone about a year ago after the passing of my late brother. He relied much on his trusted Nokia mobile phone until that got spoilt. He now sends and forwards Whatsapp messages to his children and grandchildren. Previously they were all sent as SMS. Of course, some of the messages he forwarded to us make me cringe as they were either older than the age of his smartphone, or unauthenticated; something you would not see if this was 21 years ago when he was still the IGP that he was for 20 years.

Having been the IGP for 20 years means that his opinions, in law and order as well as public moral and safety, count. This he continues to speak out at public forums. When he does so, he would relate it to the history of this nation most would have forgotten, or never experienced. He does so without interfering with or meddling into how the current leadership of the Royal Malaysian Police manages the force, and law and order. He knows his place – he was the IGP. He no longer is one.

I, too, find that as I age, I grow more sensitive. There are times when I wish I am still wearing my uniform. There are times when I wish that the Air Force still runs on the same tradition and system as those times when I was a serving officer. I meet up with veterans from other services as well, and just yesterday I was with a former army commando talking about old times. He keeps talking about “how it was then, as compared to how it is now” something I am also inclined to do.  However, I smiled at him and said, “times have changed. This is the present generation’s time.” I do engage former colleagues and squad mates who are still serving. I give ideas when asked, but always remind myself that I am no longer part of that life I sorely miss.

Tun Dr Mahathir was a towering statesman. For 22 years he managed this country with an iron fist along the line of his favourite Sinatra song, “My Way.” My way or the highway was his style. It was his style that propelled this beloved nation to where it is now. For all the good that he had done, many remember that his ways were often brash and snubbed many people in and out of this country that former Prime Minister of Australia, Paul John Keating, branded Mahathir an incalcitrant.

When Dr Mahathir was at the helm, there were dozens of accusations made against him. From bailouts to cronyism to interference in the independence of the judiciary to name just a few.  Of course when the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance Ltd bailout happened and its auditor got murdered, many of those who cry out against bailouts today were still in diapers. When Perwaja steel was bailed out, the Internet in Malaysia was still in its infancy, hence never received the same level of amplification that the recent “bailouts” have seen.  It was a time when UMNO cohorts thumped their chest and said, “UMNO and the government are one.” I don’t have to dwell on this as Tunku Abdul Aziz and numerous blogs have covered these “abuse of power.”

I don’t care for those in the opposition because it is their job to criticize come what may, but it is those in UMNO who are now taking the same line as the opposition. When the judiciary came under attack for not coming up with a verdict that favoured Anwar Ibrahim, UMNO members were quick to defend the judiciary, or any other government agency for that matter, the Audito-General’s office included.  Now, they too say that the audit report by the Auditor-General may not be transparent or not impartial.

Why the about turn now? Why the change in behaviour from UMNO to becoming the opposition? Why the incessant attack regardless of whatever explanation is offered? Isn’t this the very same opposition method that these same UMNO people criticized and ridiculed? How can public attacks on UMNO’s President be beneficial to UMNO if it means adding friendly fuel to the opposition’s fire?

Of course, now is about now and how best we move forward from here. Calls for Najib Razak to step down have not been accompanied by who should succeed and who should succeed next after the successor. The business continuity plan just isn’t there.  Even Dr Mahathir has stated that he doesn’t know who should lead the nation should Najib step down. So should we continue with this onslaught on Najib?

Dr Mahathir is whom I would describe as a once-in-a-lifetime leader. There is no doubt that I will never live to see another great leader such as he. Sharp, witty, acid-tongued, sarcastic to the point that the west has this love-hate relationship when it comes to Mahathir. I love the legacy he has built for us all, but now I am beginning to have my doubts about the relevance of his spoken facts. It was still okay when in the beginning he asked about 1MDB. However, when he raised the issue of Altantuya not only was he underscoring the opposition’s stand that the judiciary is not impartial, but his act was in contempt of a court decision. Is that the case that he is putting forth? The straw that broke the camel of my respect’s back was the announcement he made on the resignation of the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat. In my eyes the pre-emptive announcement was a low blow. It would have been alright had such an announcement been made AFTER the fact that a resignation had indeed taken place.

How different is that than Anwar’s 16th September 2008 announcement of having the numbers to form a government?  The funny part is, the announcement was spun by pro-Mahathir people as “the trump card of all announcements.”!

Sometimes I wonder if it is the people around Dr Mahathir, especially those in want of something out of all this or just in want of a raison d’etre, who keep prodding the 90-year old to continue attacking Najib? Why are they taking advantage of an old man? Why use him as a shield? Is there no shame in that? That goes to the pro-Najib people too! Why make matters worse by attacking Dr Mahathir and family? Why are you bringing yourselves down to the pro-Mahathir level if you find their methods despicable?

I just wish they would stop the quarrel and leave Najib and the old man and his legacy alone.