Today, Malaysia live again. It has gotten back its former PM, and the designated successor, surely a shoo-in for a royal pardon to pave the way for his eventual comeback, has already regained his moniker as PM-in-waiting. It was first bestowed on him by Lim Kit Siang, as a jibe of some sort, back in the 1990’s when Mahathir was PM and Anwar was his deputy and a PM-in-waiting. So more than 20 years hence, the circle is complete. The more things changed they more it remained the same.
On another level nevertheless, Mahathir now has a window of opportunity. He has been given a chance to make Malaysia truly great. He must do it by making every single Malaysian optimistic about the future. He must think about a roadmap where some time in the not too distant future, every single Malaysian will feel he or she has equal opportunity to succeed if he or she works hard.
He must not waste the immense political capital bestowed upon him, by playing sectarian, racial and feudal interests one against another. As a start, he should seriously consider making someone like Guan Eng, a Deputy Prime Minister. Certainly, Guan Eng should be in his cabinet in a senior role. If Malaysians baulk at the idea of Guan Eng as a Deputy Prime Minister it is likely it came out of the notion that the captain of this boat must be an ethnic Malay. There has to be a roadmap to take Malaysia to a place where such notions are permanently discarded. It should have no place in Malaysia’s history and Mahathir has a wonderful opportunity to design a roadmap to get to such a place.
It must not allow Malaysia’s wealth to again be squandered. Many blame Najib for woes such as GST but had Mahathir not blown billions (including Petronas coffers meant to fund future generations’ development) and had he not perpetuated policies that favoured racial and sectarian interests over economic development, Malaysia might have been more competitive today and revenue and growth might be in a better place to alleviate cost of living pressures for ordinary Malaysians.
Today Malaysia is given a second chance. Mahathir has been given a second chance. I hope they make the most of it.