pic by TMR FILE
NOW that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) has announced his intentions of setting up a new party, almost on cue his detractors, in particular Malay Muslims, embarked on the unimaginative slew of pejoratives — asking him to retire and bide his days waiting to meet his Creator.
It is not something new. Dr Mahathir had been subjected to that since 2015 when he decided to take up the mantle against the then Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak for his involvement in the 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd) infamy.
He was then 90 — an advanced age by any count.
At that time, Dr Mahathir seemed unperturbed by such heckling. His reply was that political players and the common folks from a cross section of the society had asked him to help out and put an end to the rule of a kleptocrat and his band of men merrily fleecing the nation.
Even then, Dr Mahathir’s involvement was strictly ad-hoc as he was only keen to see the end of Najib’s administration. First, it was pursuing the Citizens’ Declaration move.
If the Rulers and the ruled had taken it seriously, we would have seen a change in the government’s leadership without the nation having to be dragged into a long-winded political process which until today, despite a court ruling, the convicted is still unabashedly roaming the streets like a law unto himself.
And if the efforts from Dr Mahathir had then been supported by all and sundry, especially by Umno stalwarts, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would have taken over as the PM and the party would have been somewhat absolved of the corruption and greediness it is associated with today.
Instead, Dr Mahathir was mocked as being a senile old man who should be spending his time on the prayer mat in the mosque. He went on to set up a political party, participated in the 14th General Election and the rest is, of course, history.
Today, just over two years since the unprecedented polls, Dr Mahathir is again setting up a new party.
Naysayers are taking him on two fronts: Firstly, he is splitting the Malays further and again, that at 95 he should retire and spend his time praying and seeking divine absolution.
On the first count, obviously the advocates of such thoughts, especially those from his estranged Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, forgot that Dr Mahathir and allies were sacked from the party he founded.
By any counts, if anyone is to be faulted for splitting the Malays, it would be those who chose to sack him and his supporters in their desperation to take control of the party.
On the second count, if these advocates have any grasp of Islam as a religion, they would realise that there is no concept of retirement and that a struggle for the betterment of the religion, its adherents and the nation is as much a requirement in Islam as performing the daily rituals.
In fact, enlightened Muslims, or maybe even those who are not very much so, would be familiar with the concept of individual obligations or fardhu a’in that is juxtaposed with collective obligations or fardhu kifayah, an obligation imposed on the whole community of the ummah or believers.
While these concepts are the basic understanding of the religion, it is the very Malay Muslims, who froth at the mouth in demanding for a Malay Muslim government that pursues a more stringent Malay Muslim indoctrination for the nation, are the ones who appeared ignorant of these concepts.
How could the new party Dr Mahathir want to mainstream go against the concept of fardhu kifayah if the struggle is to put a stop to corruption, money politics and kleptocracy, which have become endemic to the community?
And how could he, or those who share his ideals, be expected to re-join or join Bersatu, Umno and PAS — the existing mainstream Malay Muslim parties — when they, individually, collectively or by association, are blatantly corrupting the nation and the race by offering positions in return for support and money to hop over or change allegiance.
His detractors may choose to ignore the fact that if it was power and position that he was after, Dr Mahathir would still be sitting pretty as the PM if he had agreed with the Sheraton Move and went along with the apologists of the Brutus’ doctrine.
As it is, his fear that the manner the new government was formed went against the nation’s democratic conventions and its practices of blatant reward and patronage in seeking the precious support to remain in power is fast becoming a new normal.
A German proverb — “when a dove begins to associate with crows, its feathers remain white but its heart grows black” — is an affliction spreading in the questionable union.
And a young deputy minister appears to have already contracted the malady.
Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.