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IHT: Mahathir Bermain Sudu Lagi
By Philip Bowring
25/5/2001 7:44 pm Fri
[Mahathir sengaja mengaibkan semua lawan dan saingan dari
dalam dan luar Umno agar tiada pilihan lain melainkan dirinya
sahaja buat Umno dan Malaysia. Ini dilakukan berterusan untuk
memastikan beliau tidak kepupusan sokongan. Beliau sengaja
memasukkan kembali beberapa pemimpin terbuang agar semua
Ada banyak sebab rakyat menolak Umno - isu politik wang dan
isu Anwar. Dengan menghukum beberapa orang dalam Umno itu
diharap akan membersihkan Umno dari persepsi kotor politik
wang. Begitu juga dengan hubungan dan kabaran masadepan Daim
yang sengaja disamarkan agar dapat ditumpulkan serangan
Dengan menggugurkan pertuduhan tambahan buat Anwar beliau
berharap serangan pejuang reformasi tidak semakin menjulang.
Penangkapan ISA bertujuan untuk melemahkan lagi serangan
parti keADILan dan aktivis reformasi yang sudah semakin
mengancam dan tidak padam-padam.
Untuk memastikan Umno dan dirinya dapat bertahan beliau
mengambil strategi mendekatkan diri dengan masyarakat Cina
melalui pelantikkan penasihat khas setelah diriuhkan mengenai
isu kuota. Tanpa sokongan kaum Cina, beliau dan Umno akan maut
nanti. Nampaknya memang banyak Mahathir melakar strategi
akhir-akhir ini untuk mengurangkan liabiliti menjelang
perhimpunan agung nanti - mungkin untuk berkerja sampai mati.
Atau mungkin kerana orang Umno sendiri sudah mula curiga
dengannya sekarang ini. Mahathirlah punca musibah yang
melanda negara sekarang ini termasuk sokongan yang
sudah berbelah dan berbahagi. Dia memerlukan modal untuk
mengambil hati pewakilan Umno - dan inilah masanya untuk
menonjol diri. Nanti semua wawasan yang lingkup itu dan
beberapa kekalahan teruk itu akan dilupai dengan mudah sekali.
International Herald Tribune
Friday, May 25, 2001
KUALA LUMPUR The tempo of Malaysian politics has picked up. Some
see developments as the beginning of the end of Mahathir bin
Mohamad's 20-year dominance. There have been suggestions that he
is preparing his exit.
More likely is that he has taken the initiative to confuse allies and
enemies alike, aiming to rekindle his popularity and obstruct the
emergence of a successor. He may hope that by 2003, year of the
party elections, or 2004, when a general election is due, the fortunes
of the economy and of the United Malays National Organization
(UMNO) will have revived.
This is bad news for those who believe that Malaysia must have new
leadership if institutions undermined by years of personal rule and
political patronage are to be revived. But no one has prospered by
underestimating Mr. Mahathir's will to dominate.
The most striking development has been an apparent split between the
prime minister and his friend and finance minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin,
whose mastery of corporate maneuvers has been the key to the
prosperity, or otherwise, of most major UMNO-linked Malay
Denunciations of "money politics" have been emanating from Mr.
Mahathir and other ministers. Stories abound of investigations into the
sources of wealth of certain entrepreneurs once associated with Tun
Daim. Whether this gets beyond rhetoric remains to be seen, but it
makes political sense. If there is one person more unpopular in many
quarters of UMNO than Mr. Mahathir it is Tun Daim. The prime minister
knows that the wider public wants to see action against money politics.
He must present himself as leading the revitalization of the party,
however difficult that may be given the extensive web of patronage
over which he and Tun Daim have presided.
The dropping of additional corruption and s###my charges against
Anwar Ibrahim is significant. Here is the more accommodating Mr.
Mahathir, anxious not to deepen Malay divisions. The decision will
help keep Mr. Anwar, whose supporters have proved more resilient
and persistent than might have been expected, out of the limelight.
Mr. Mahathir continues to use the big stick of Internal Security Act
detention without trial against hard-core supporters of Mr. Anwar.
Persuading Malays to swing back behind UMNO is his big challenge.
He failed to entice Parti Islam or Keadilan, the party headed by Mr.
Anwar's wife, into talks on "Malay unity." But the highly emotive issue
of preferential university entrance quotas for Malays is now back on
the front pages. This is a none too veiled reminder that there can be no
preferences without Malay political dominance, and no dominance if
the Malay vote is split three ways. Malay resentments against Mr.
Mahathir range from money politics to the treatment of Mr. Anwar. Some
Muslims denounce his essentially secular agenda, which appeals to
Chinese and to foreigners. But Mr. Mahathir may be right in thinking
that at the end of the day Malays will see UMNO as their protector.
And most non-Malays see UMNO as their protector against more
militant Islam. So, while bringing the ethnic quota issues back into
prominence, he has moved to shore up his Chinese support by
announcing the appointment of special advisers on Chinese issues.
For those in UMNO who think that his departure is what the party
needs above all else, new doubts have been sown about the suitability
or readiness to succeed of his deputy, the mild-mannered Abdullah
Badawi, a man untainted either by sleaze or by overambition.
Even the name of Tunku Razaleigh Hamzah, the ambitious former
finance minister who was once Mr. Mahathir's greatest foe, is being
bandied around. If he returned to the cabinet, where would that leave
Mr. Badawi? The Razaleigh rumor may well be a ruse, but nothing is
impossible when Mr. Mahathir sets his sights on his own survival.
Nor one can anyone be sure that even a change of leadership would
restore UMNO's fortunes while Mr. Anwar remains in jail, Keadilan still
exists and the opposition front maintains sufficient unity to threaten
There may well come a time when UMNO activists feel so desperate that a dump Mahathir movement gains momentum and the issue of who succeeds him becomes secondary. But for now he appears to have taken back the initiative.