Thursday, April 20, 2006

Mahathir the megalomaniac

Mahathir criesMalaysia's former PM, Mahathir Mohammad (Dr M) is at it again. This time, he is not only attacking Singapore, but his own government too. He is now calling for a referendum in Johor to determine the real level of support for the proposed bridge to replace the Causeway, casting doubt on the very reasons given to abandon the project in the first place. Now, I am not saying that the reasons given - the Johoreans opposition to selling sand to Singapore and allowing Singapore's Air Force to make use of Malaysia airspace - are real. That is for the Malaysia government to determine. But Dr M now thinks that he is the government, going by his tirade. Did Singapore force the M'sian government to give up the project? I don't think so. Rather, I see Singapore as playing a constructive role in having this unfeasible project shelved, saving a lot of time and money for both parties, money that belongs to the people of Singapore and Malaysia, including Johoreans. This money that can now be better spent to really benefit the peoples of both countries.

Why should the people have to spend money to satisfy the ego of ONE man? This one man also said that Malaysia has lost in this battle, that it is no longer able to do things on its own terrritory. Well, it seems that Dr M either didn't have Geography classes in school or if he did, he didn't do too well in it. As far as Singapore is concerned, we can't care less if Malaysia wants to erect a statue of Dr M smack in the centre of Johor Bahru, similar to the one of Saddam Hussein's in Bagdad - before it was torn down by angry Iraqis, that is. But we are talking about the Causeway, which is shared between Malaysia and Singapore and therefore not Malaysia's territory to be decided on solely by Malaysia. The current Malaysian government led by Datuk Abdullah Badawi understands and has accepted this. This is also consistent with the spirit of the judgement passed down by the International Court of Justice in settling the dispute over Singapore's land reclamation project on Singapore's terrority this side of the Straits of Johor. It seems that Dr M still admires this institution a lot as he is calling for the ICJ's intervention yet again in this Causeway bridge dispute. There is such a thing as being vexatious, which is precisely how ICJ might view such appeals from Mahathir, err...Malaysia.

Either Dr M has very short memory, selective memory, or it is a sign of senility typical of people who have left high office and yearns for the days of old when everybody else kowtows to him. Unlike MacArthur, he cannot be content to just fade away. It is said that a person's legacy is often shown by the longevity of the monuments he leaves behind, whether those monuments are physical, intellectual, social or political. Ever since Dr M left office, his successor has cancelled many of the mega projects (the replacement of the Causeway being one of these) that arose from his megalomaniac mind. It looks like his legacy will not last - a reflection of the quality and wisdom (of lack) of some of these decisions he made while in office.

Dr M can laugh or cry any way he wants. There will be little sympathy for him this side of the Causeway, and the other side too, if he keeps on behaving like this. Some former politician grow old gracefully, others behave as if they are still important and influential when they are not. To this second type of people, I can only say, 'balek kampong' so that you can 'go fly kite'.

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