Many have written off Tun M from the pages of the future history of Malaysia.
For me, many are wrong and too simplistic in their conclusion as well as using too much sentiment to be objective.
Politics in Malaysia requires a thick skin and a firm jaw.
Against all critics it was undeniably Mahathir who took PH over the precious few miles to come out on top over the powerful BN and the Civil Institutions stacking cards over the opposition.
Because Mahathir broke his promise to hand over to Anwar, and also had designs to pull Bersatu out and form a new coalition without Anwar and the DAP, he is mistrusted by most Malaysians, especially the non-Malays.
Although I had written about Tun M’s foul deeds on losing Malaysia to the BN and PN, I have a vastly different view of Tun M’s future and worth in the next general election.
Tun M, true to his form, is striding confidently showing Pejuang as a political force even though the party lost its shirt in the Johor election.
To Mahathir, that is just part of the growing process and politics is a weird game where the smallest political party can command the bigger ones and sit comfortably in a power equation.
You just have to know the right buttons to push.
Thus, in this article, I will present why Tun M is very much relevant and needs to be treated with ‘political respect’ because he is still a chess piece that can sting unexpectedly.
I view that Tun M has seven strengths that I admire greatly, and is an asset to Malaysians regardless of what most think of him.
Malaysians must get out of the ‘citizen’ mindset and get on the ‘politician mind games’ if we are to outthink the ‘enemy’ against the construct and values of the Constitution that we hold dear.
Firstly, Tun M is the only Malay politician and the only politician that can stand his ground against the royals.
He has done this many times and I, for one, saw him dress down the Johor Sultanah concerning giving Singapore to the British in his honorary doctoral conferment speech at UTM while Her Majesty was a mere two meters from him.
Most politicians are not ‘man’ enough to do what Tun M dares to.
I think we Malaysians need a character that would ensure the royals know their place in the Constitution, and Mahathir is the man to remind them.
Secondly, Tun M is the only politician I know who can criticize conservative Islam against the institutions or any clergy.
He was instrumental in setting up JAKIM to counter the influence that religion might have if in the wrong hands of politicians like PAS as well as those who would abuse it.
Who dares to speak about Islam in the Malay community by reminding everyone the true essence of the religion as opposed to its dogmatic perception of institutions and personalities?
He was the only one who dared to say, if you cut off the hands for stealing, then how can the person work to earn a living?
To date no one has dared to utter this sentence at the risk of being detained for blasphemy.
It was also Tun M who admonished the Muslims for having too much religious subject at the expense of maths and science.
We need a man of his stature and courage to speak up against the extremist and bigots.
Tun M is still very much relevant and needs to be treated with ‘political respect’ because he is still a chess piece that can sting unexpectedly.
Thirdly, it was Tun M who suggested and ordered the reversal of the Bahasa Melayu policy for maths and science, saying that the original policy had caused the students to be extremely poor in English.
Which politician, I ask you, would dare to touch Bahasa Melayu in the land of the Malays?
Most politician are pengecut and pay lip service to BM while sending their children to France, UK and Australia even in kindergarten.
Hypocrites… all of them! Even Anwar, the Bahasa Melayu warrior, sent some of his children studying overseas.
Fourthly, it was Tun M who nearly and almost single-handedly destroyed Umno after the PH took power.
Tun M saw that Umno was no longer useful to the Malays as it benefited the elite few.
He is the only Malay politician who dared to do the unthinkable…destroy Umno and watch it turn to dust!
Fifth, it was Tun M who walked up to Anwar in the court house and asked him to work together to bring down the BN.
Tun M had to endure the anger of both Nurul Izzah and Wan Azizah at the perceived gall of the man who put their loved one in the prison on trumped up charges.
In the first place, I am the first to condemn 100 times what Tun M had done to Anwar, but the man was strategic enough to reach out a partnership with his enemy.
Now, to me, that is leadership in wartime, to use whatever resources to win.
Who could have predicted the Anwar-Mahathir combo after 20 years of the Reformasi war? Certainly not Najib Tun Razak! This is how wars are won, by doing the unexpected.
Many of us can only shout ‘justice’ and ‘principle’ but we do not know how to fight a war and win. Tun M does.
Raja Petra was right when he said that Tun M is not only a Politician General but he is also a street fighter who knows all the foul punches.
Sixth, Tun M is the only Malay politician who can tell the Malays to their faces that they are lazy and have misused the crutches that were given to them by Umno and BN.
He said so at the Kongres Maruah Melayu and I could see all the disapproving faces of racist professors, politicians and clergymen.
Now tell me, who dares to say such a thing to the Malays in an all-Malay gathering?
Seventh, the one thing I especially admire about Tun M is his ability to write his thoughts and ideas.
Which politician can do the same? I have read three books by him and two others on his speeches and papers and have learned a lot.
I may disagree with some of his methods and policies but I am careful to separate them from the vision, ideas and other values that he has that we can learn from.
With all these reasons, I am of the opinion that Tun M is still relevant for GE15.
Malaysians might be suspicious of him. I understand. Malaysians do not trust him. Me too. Malaysians know that he can turn around and do a flip like what he had done to the PH government.
But the fact remains that Tun M knows how to win a fight. He never lets up and he has the ‘muka tembok’ to make partnership with anyone who can bring victory.
Love him or hate him, Malaysia is not done until Tun M is six feet underground.
A formula of winning GE15 against the PN and BN without Tun M is a formula that would be a defeat without any head start.
(Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor at a local university.)