When a time frame to quit will only stall the country

Setting up a timeline for Dr Mahathir to exit will only throw Malaysia into reverse


LAST week, a few banners asking for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) to resign appeared in Port Dickson, the same location that PKR was having their leadership retreat. It was the first retreat for the party, which was part of an unexpected coalition that displaced Barisan Nasional 14 months ago.

The banner urged the 94-year-old leader to surrender his position to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar is in a leadership battle himself in a party that is showing signs of cracks like a beach house smashed by a tornado.

His deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali is said to be a challenger to Anwar’s position as the prime minister (PM)-designate despite a gentleman’s agreement reached between Pakistan Harapan leaders for Anwar to be the next PM. The agreement is almost like an unbroken vow with a magical seal.

Any ordinary person would be rattled with such banners. The very least, cursing the idiots who paid for such banners.

Instead, Dr Mahathir must be in stitches. How many times in his more than six decades involvement in politics have he heard similar calls.

There was Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in 1987 who took on Dr Mahathir but lost and had Umno deregistered. A new Umno was registered and another Malay political party, Semangat 46, was created. Despite being an MP for around four decades, Tengku Razaleigh is still staring from the outside looking at the country’s equivalent of the Oval  Office.

About 11 years later, Anwar himself  tried to displaced Dr Mahathir. It divided the country, especially the Malays, in what was the biggest political upheaval since the May 13 riot.

Whether it is by accident or design, Dr Mahathir comes out on top. In his squabbles with Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak, only one person came out unscathed.

No one would have put their last dime on the outcome. Even Paul the Octopus would not have been able to foreshadow the outcomes.

Coincidentally, calls for Dr Mahathir to exit comes at a time when infighting overshadows the generally peaceful PKR and Anwar battles to cement his position as the supreme leader.

Over the last couple of months, there were already calls for Dr Mahathir to clearly state a time frame for his exit. DAP’s Ronnie Liu is the latest to join the bandwagon, telling Dr Mahathir to set a timeline to hand over power to Anwar to quell any uncertainties, especially in PKR.

Politicians, more often than not, cannot see the forest for the trees. Or, they are just plain ignorant.

Setting up a timeline for Dr Mahathir to exit will only throw the country into reverse.

As it is now, some sections of the government’s administration are already predicting a short-lived Pakatan Harapan tenure and these civil servants are already looking forward to the return of the old twisted ways.

The Pakatan Harapan government has to move mountains to deliver the simplest policies as internal resistance continues to block changes.

Putting a declared timeline to any leadership is like leaving a Mount Everest climber without a sherpa. Foreign countries will resist or delay any deals with Malaysia.

Businesses will stall as owners wait for new policies. Investors will hold back their investment until the leadership change. Directives will fall on deaf ears. Nothing will move.

The hedging for the next leadership is already happening. Businessmen are already changing their pivot. Like a damaged compass exposed to a magnet. Politicians are also busy forging alliance, leading to the leadership tussle and divide in PKR.

Dr Mahathir in a social media posting on his 94th birthday said: “My birthday wish is very simple; that I can finish my work setting Malaysia on the road of recovery.”

Let’s not allow idiocy and idiots reign. The country needs to stop rolling down the hill.

Mohamad Azlan Jaafar is the editor-in-chief of The Malaysian Reserve.