Right now there are opinions and concerns from people that Tun Dr. Mahathir’s criticisms of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi are like ‘meludah ke langit’. Meaning, he shouldn’t criticise Pak Lah knowing that his reign as Prime Minister was nowhere near perfect and he is so unapologetic about it. Both men seemed adamant in their stand. How can he condemn Pak Lah when he himself is guilty of several misdeeds and wrongdoings? So say his detractors.
One of the basic virtue of a good person is his ability to seek forgiveness and self reflection. Without it, we can never learn from our mistakes and become a better person. At first I was also one of the many people who argued that Tun should firstly admit that his 22-year administration was not perfect and he need to redeem himself before criticising his successor. I had the impression that Tun was just another stubborn old man with quite a massive ego. Much like how my late granddad was. He’d never apologise for anything.
But after reading a few articles about him, I encountered bits and pieces of his many interviews which have indeed showed some parts where he is quite apologetic.
During his interview at the launching of his book – “Dr. Mahathir’s Selected Letters to World Leaders”, he told his audience on the question of rampant cronyism and nepotism during his reign;
“I was aware that I was not always right. But those people who were called my cronies, they were not. As a matter of fact, when I made public a list of people who had (government projects) it became clear that they were not people I know, except for the very well known people.
So I wasn’t practising cronyism but this was a label that was attached to me to undermine my credibility. I cannot get away from it. But today we see nepotism creeping in, we see companies getting projects to the extent that many Malaysian contractors and entrepreneurs are going abroad. They say there is no opportunities within the country.”
Even in the prologue of that newly launched book, there was a quote by him which is very telling;
“Whether I was good or a bad Prime Minister is, of course not for me to say. When I am dead and gone, the judgement would be more accurate. Since I will not be around then, it would be quite meaningless to me. My children and friends would be the ones to savour the truth of bear the pain of whatever I am condemned for.”
In not too many words, Tun Dr Mahathir, whom we know is famous for his wits, nuances and sarcasms is saying that his objectives in life are to live life without regrets and do things that are right. In my personal opinion, given that he is a man with massive achievements in his resume and with an ego the size of the moon, I’d reckon he is humble enough to recognize some of his failings.
On the other hand, Pak Lah has yet to admit his own failings especially after the disastrous 12th General Election. Clearly he is in denial and blaming other people but not himself for the lost.
His recent press statements are smacked with egoistical replies which led me to shake my head in awe several times. How can he not see that his governance is tainted with glaring cases of corruption and yet all he could reply was, “I don’t know” or “those are baseless accusations”?
Pak Lah, at least you should own up to your mistakes and stand up to face the music for once.
Just like what Mr. Adalat Khan, President of Mina Resource Sdn Bhd said recently in News Straits Times regarding the common mistakes of leadership;
“Many mediocre leaders are adapt in the blame game. They are at self-denial stage. Good leader shoulder the responsibility and accept their mistakes. In fact, even when the mistakes are their followers’, good leaders will take them on themselves.
Leaders who take the blame also earn the respect of their people. Former US President Harry Truman used to keep the sign “The Buck Stops Here” on his desk in the White House.”
When Tun accused you for practising corruption and nepotism etc, you should reply back with facts and viable reasons, not counter accuse Tun with what had happened in the past administration decades ago, which apparently, you also took part in it. You can’t tell people how Tun had used the ISA during the ‘Operasi Lalang’ while you at the same time are also detaining 5 Hindraf leaders under the ISA. Calling the kettle black are we?
I’d always like to maintain that I am not anti Pak lah or pro Mahathir. I’m just anti inefficiency and pro ‘common sense’ :p