Sunday, 13 May 2018

Grandpa Superman: Mahathir.

There is a Grandpa Superman in the Malaysia GE14. 
He is 92, undaunted in strength and vigor and stood for hours before crowds to pitch his message. 
That's Mahathir. For me, he is the star of GE14. 
One Lawgkawi and housewife Siti Mansor, 40, said:-
"He looks thinner now, but I am amazed he is still standing strong after 11 days of campaigning. He is Superman, Grandpa Superman!" 
Siti said she will vote for him.
While he's no Superman nor a leader with a clean past record, Mahathir is nevertheless still a fighter. His past may be checkered but his spirit is definitely not. 
And I say this not without some backup observation. 
This was once a man who led the party (BN and UMNO) he now seeks with all determination to oust. He was President, Premier and Prime Minister all rolled into one.
He was also the one who had groomed the one he now seeks to unseat. He was his adviser, mentor and senior all rolled into one. 
When he retired in 2003 as the 4th PM of Malaysia, he left with a mixed record to say the least. 
Economically, the country was still struggling with stagnant education, high employment, expensive healthcare and a national debt. Socially, racial politics still plagued the country. And politically, embedded corruption, cryonism and even nepotism held the country back. 
Folly of youth?
To add gravy to a white, well ironed shirt, Mahathir had a pathetic succession plan in the likes of a failed kingmaker.
He sacked Anwar on the flimsiest of charges, whom he has made peace with and had admitted his mistakes to, he disparaged Badawi's leadership as weak and uninspiring, and then replaced him with a foe much greater than all his planned successors combined. 
In the comics world equivalent, Najib would be like a sarong-clad Thanos and Mahathir Stark, Captain Anwar and Wanda Azizah are trying their darnest to save the world before sarong Thanos gets his hand on the last infinity stone, that is, the stone of the voters' heart and soul. 
But fantasy aside, Grandpa Superman is running the last lap of his political race and he is trying to make amends. His last political tank remaining is for a road he is now absolutely clear and determined about. No turning back. 
Recently, he confronted the demons of his past and spoke from a heart that still beats for his country in his year-old party's first AGM:-
"Before I conclude my speech, I would like to apologise if I was rude or had offended anyone. I, just like other humans, am not alone in making mistakes, not just today but during the time I had dabbled in politics."
He then added: "I apologise for whatever wrongdoing throughout that time."
Whether he meant that or not, Mahathir is a man who is running out of time. He in fact pleaded for two years, if elected, to turn the country around. 
This may be a political sales pitch to some, but one has to question his heart for coming out of comfortable retirement to criticise the party and leaders he had led and groomed, and then shocking them by joining a new coalition-like opposition he had a hand in setting up, and thus being despised by the leaders he once commanded great respect from. 
Not to mentioned the backlash when he was sacked from UMNO, sacked from Petronas, and then stepped down from the national car company he founded, and for what? All that at the expense of a cushy retirement?
Wouldn't he just want to go quietly into the starry night with his reputation intact with the ruling party, and be remembered by them as the father of modern Malaysia, instead of the Judas Iscariot of the party?
Alas, in a last-ditch pitch yesterday, Najib said this:-
"All youth, 26 years of age or less, if BN is given the mandate tomorrow...doesn't matter how much they earn, will not need to pay income tax at all."
To which Mahathir said: "Instead of fighting for the people, country and government, Najib has brought the belief that everything can be bought with money."
Well, money politics is very real and it happens everywhere, however clean a state declares itself to be. 
The electorate are no fools. It's just that they are too busy to make ends meet to bother about the hypocrisy, corruption and self-preservation at all costs at the top.
In the end, the real question is, is your heart in the right place with willing hands and feet?
Let me end with the words of Chan Chun Sing in the papers today with this caption: "Next PM must bring together the team, says Chun Sing".
He distinguished a political leader from a politician. 
"A political leader, he explains, is prepared to set aside his own agenda to put his country's interests first, take the necessary difficult decisions, and mobilise Singaporeans to overcome challenges together.
Whereas a politicans, by conventional definition, is "probably just someone who is looking for the expedient option, perhaps for himself.""
After all that he has been through, I hope this time Mahathir is leading the country as a political leader and not just a politician. 
And his many sacrifices at his age is telling of where his heart truly is, notwithstanding the suspicions some may have of his intention or agenda or ego.
Going back to the tribute by housewife Siti, maybe she has got a point about this Grandpa Superman. 
But not so much being superhuman who is naturally able to deflect bullets and run faster than a speeding train, Mahathir's heart for the people may just be made of titanium. 
The wisdom of old age? 
And I leave you with this song, which I feel is apt to describe his hardscrabble journey thus far in his fight for the heart and soul of the Malaysian people. Cheerz.
"I'm bulletproof nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away
Ricochet, you take your aim
Fire away, fire away
You shoot me down but I won't fall, I am titanium.
You shoot me down but I won't fall
I am titanium, I am titanium, I am titanium."

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