Tun Dr Mahathir Mohd is a great politician. He is one of the very few I respect and admire. I revere him as a statesman, and hold him in a different light than other politicians I consider as clowns.
But like all great politicians, he has a way with words. His words can make absolute sense even when they are not always true.
For instance he is right about how the government tends to make popular decisions when they are weak, and are better when they are strong as they are not afraid to make unpopular decisions that will presumably benefit the nation.
But if you realise, he cleverly omitted the part where not all popular decisions are bad, and not all the unpopular ones are good. The onus is actually on the leader to implement good and sound decisions taking into account, but not relying entirely on public perception.
Dato Seri Najib Razak who leads a relatively weaker government than his predecessor, is now on a popular campaign trail announcing slew of reforms, handing out goodies, cash and incentives to almost everyone who is eligible to vote. BR1M (bantuan rakyat 1Malaysia), TR1M (Teksi rakyat 1Malaysia), minimum wages of RM900/month in peninsular Malaysia comes to mind.
On the contrary, his predecessor (who is also the current advisor to MAS) won the 2004 GE with a huge majority, led a strong government, but couldn’t care less about being popular.
The AP fiasco, scandals involving ECM Libra, purchasing
two submarines that couldn’t submerge, awarding the NFC contract to one who has no experience in the said business, loss of billions of ringgit from flip-flopping decisions vis a vis the Johor-Singapore bridge and the double tracking railroad projects, dabbling family members with politics not mentioning the lack of responsibility, insight and wisdom when deciding on national policies that is almost always smeared by the lack of transparency and accountability, were among some of the scandals that made his government very unpopular then.
His government brought about a new low to what the civilised world would call conflict of interest and treated it as nonchalantly as a doctor would a mole, without checks and balance from the ailing, anaemic judiciary and legislative arm of the country. But the invincibility they enjoyed from such huge majority was only a mirage, which disappeared in 2008.
That was a strong government in every sense of the word, who were not worried about making unpopular decisions and statements at every turn.
But were they good?
Who would you rather have? A weaker government that is always on its toes trying their best to please the electorates, or a strong government that couldn’t give a rat’s as* about our welfare?
In an ideal world, a strong government is perhaps the best because less politicking means more work gets done. But how often do we get a strong government that has the best interest of Malaysians at heart? How often do we get a government that works for the people instead of themselves and their cronies?
I disagree with opinions suggesting that the current government cannot make unpopular decisions because they are weak. They can and they have. Keeping PTPTN, abolishing PPSMI, advocating for LYNAS were some of the tough, unpopular decisions they had made.
So a good government is not one that makes popular or unpopular decisions. It doesn’t have to be one with a big or small majority either. A good government is one that has the best interest of the citizens at heart, with their undivided, unconditional love and loyalty to the country.
Now comes the toughest part. Which political party is ready for such a role?