Mahathir Mohamad, the former prime minister of Malaysia, has decided to stand for the elections once again. He will be heading a coalition of parties including those that originally were his opposition during his stint at the top office. He has joined hands with his former rivals in order to take on the current Prime Minister. However, the fact is that Mahathir’s decision to stand for the election in itself should be a worry for the country.
The fact is that during his tenure as prime minister, Mahathir instituted what was an authoritarian rule which set democracy back by several years. At the same time, his time in the office was rocked by several scandals which are sure to happen again should he was to return to power.
In 1980, while he was the deputy prime minister, his cabinet had actually approved a secretive plan for manipulating the tin market. This allowed the government to conduct several dealings via Mamino, finally resulting in a loss of US$253 million for the country due to a shock collapse in the prices of tin.
As the prime minister, Mahathir brought in a heavy industries program that set up Perwaja Steel. However, Perwaja Steel suffered a massive loss of RM10 billion.
It is also believed that Mahathir was involved in the RM2.5 billion criminal breach of trust case of Bumiputra Malaysia Finance Ltd. Although the case took place in 1983, Mahathir’s possible involvement only recently came to light after a CIA document was declassified earlier in 2018.
That wasn’t all. He was also in power during the Ops Lalang which resulted in the closure of newspapers and arrests of politicians. Malaysian journalism was affected greatly, resulting in an erosion of its powers in supervising the operations of the government. The fourth estate is still to recover.
The policies put into place then by Mahathir ended up expanding administrative powers. His policies were certainly racist but they ended up distracting the attention of the public from government irregularities at expense of the rule of law and accountability.
The so-called political legacy of Mahathir has ended up doing immense damage to Malaysia.