An aging leader for a new start
Who would have thought it would take an elderly ex-autocrat to bring democracy back to Malaysia? asked Dorairaj Nadason. When he was prime minister in the late 1980s, Mahathir Mohamad oversaw a shocking crackdown known as the “weeding operation.” Opposition leaders, artists, and activists were locked up and newspapers shuttered, including this one. Decades of autocratic rule followed. But Mahathir, now 92, recently emerged from 15 years of retirement to lead the opposition to victory in the May general election, and has replaced his former protégé Najib Razak as prime minister. The rule of Najib’s United Malays National Organization, which has governed since independence in 1957, and which Mahathir once led, is over, and Malaysia feels reborn. “Unjust laws are being repealed,” including those that straitjacketed the press. The corruption of Najib and his wife is being exposed as police haul riches from their many lavish homes. “Suspected thieves are being questioned, millions are being seized, and good people are coming back.” The irony is that the doctor who is now healing our sick nation is the same one whose quack medicine poisoned us in the first place. Malaysia has forgiven Mahathir, and looks to him as a wise grandfather to guide us in a new era.