KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 — Which would make for a more cruel and unusual punishment: death, or living long enough to see one’s legacy unravel?
DAP’s Lim Kit Siang today said he prays his adversary Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad lives to age 100, only a dozen years more, which the opposition leader appeared to believe is sufficient for the former prime minister to witness the end of his 22-year legacy that has divided the multi-racial, multi-cultural nation.
The DAP adviser also told Malaysians that they should fear the bane brought about by “Mahathirism”, as he listed down the setbacks Malaysia has allegedly suffered as a result of Dr Mahathir’s grip on the nation’s rule.
“Mahathirism will continue to be a bane and not a boon to Malaysia’s aspiration to become an united, successful and competitive nation in the global community,” Lim said in a statement.
“Mahathir wants me dead but I pray that Mahathir will live to 100 years to see the decline and end of Mahathirism,” Lim added.
Calling Dr Mahathir the “Godfather of the Malaysian Ku Klux Klan”, Lim had said that the former prime minister’s apparent endorsement of racial supremacy has brought about the worst racial polarisation in the nation’s history as part of his legacy.
Dr Mahathir has been a vocal supporter of Malay rights since his early days in politics, and affirmative action became a recurring theme in the administration of Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister.
He continues to be a vocal Malay rights advocate after leaving office, and currently serves as the patron and adviser for Malay rights group Perkasa.
Lim had said in the Sungai Limau by-election campaign last week that Dr Mahathir’s waning influence on Malaysian politics would be confirmed if Barisan Nasional failed to wrest the seat from PAS.
In return, the 88-year-old Kedah-born said both he and Lim had cut their teeth on politics in 1964 but while he had passed on the government’s reins to another person 10 years ago, his former parliamentary opponent chose to remain the political battlefield.
Lim today dedicated a saying by Sung Dynasty scholar-general Wen Tianxiang to Dr Mahathir as a response: “All men are mortal, but my loyalty will illuminate the annals of history forever.”
“For Mahathir’s ears, the ‘loyalty’ here refers to loyalty to Malaysia,” he added.
In his blog, Dr Mahathir also asked the DAP adviser if he was still fearful of the shadow of a man who had retired from government a decade ago, as he claimed Lim had tried to run him down during the campaign.
“Mahathir’s realisation of his waning influence may explain his bitterness which caused him to blog that I am afraid of his ‘shadow’. There is no reason for anyone to be afraid of Mahathir’s ‘shadow’ when it has become quite a penumbra,” Lim replied, referring to the partial shadow commonly witnessed during eclipses.
“What Malaysians should be concerned is the bane of Mahathirism — the legacy which Mahathir has left behind after his 22-year premiership.”
The senior opposition politician claimed that “Mahathirism” had subverted a truly independent judiciary and a just rule of law, in addition to contributing to rampant corruption, cronyism and abuse of power.
He said “Mahathirism” also resulted in the lack of confidence in the efficiency, quality, professionalism and integrity of key national institutions, including eroding the standards of a formerly world-class education system.