Former Prime Minister Mahathir is known for his abrasive and combative ways.He is not one who is hamstrung with shooting from the hip. A man who never minces his word and called a spade a spade no matter how much it hurts the other person at the receiving end.
The past few weeks have seen him admonishing and belittling the other two contenders for the deputy president of UMNO, Ali Rustam and Muhammad Taib. He said he would have kicked them out in the early stage if it was him at the helm of the party and also commented on their poor command of English.
His strongest criticism is reserved for those whom he disliked intensely and that would be Pak Lah whom he blamed for all that had gone wrong in UMNO, that would see Pak Lah exiting as prime minister by end of this month.
Mahathir, although no more a member of the party is still highly respected by some quarters in UMNO. This is the man you either love or hate.Opposition politicians hate him intensely and wouldn't give him any credit for his achievements. They only remember his bad sides and people like Karpal Singh, Lim Kit Siang and Anwar Ibrahim who had gone to prison during his time see him as the devil incarnate, cruel and unforgiving.
On 27 October 1987 he ordered the police to arrest 106 opposition leaders and social activists for causing racial tension.It was the second biggest ISA swoop since the May 13 riots. The racial tension was brought about by massive protest by Chinese leaders including those from MCA and Gerakan who uttered racially provocative speeches when they found out that the government had posted about 100 school assistants and principals to Chinese vernacular schools who were not Mandarin educated.
Some in UMNO is dreaming of the good old days when the party was all powerful, dissent unheard of and the oppositions in disarray, wish how they would like to bring him back if they could. After the openess allowed under Pah Lah's administration his autocratic style wouldn't work anymore. People are more aware of their democratic rights and wouldn't be easily intimidated by repressive methods.The ballot box is now the most powerful weapon.
The time machine could not take them back to that era and if change doesn't come soon the party losing its grip on power in the next general election is as sure as the sun rises.There is serious crisis of confidence and erosion of credibility in the present leadership.
He is no niggard with words and bluntness when it comes to slamming his opponents on issues he dislikes or doesn't agree with.He has slammed not only local politicians but also world leaders.Former US President George Bust and former Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair had been the bitter pills for him to swallow on the Iraq War and Palestinian conflicts and called both of them war criminals and demanded that they be tried for crimes against humanity.
I couldn't agree more with him on this issue.If the World Court can issue warrant of arrest for Bashir of Sudan why can't they do the same for these two men who had killed just as many if not more innocent civilians.Does the method of how you kill makes a difference? Murder is the taking of human life intentionally, whether you drop a bomb from the air, use a gun or a machete it is still murder.
As much as he is misunderstood he has also been most profound in some of his unorthodox ways of doing things which the West vehemently criticised before. Now, they have shamelessly copied him. He should have copyrighted his methods.
The mean old man still knows best.