Najib hits the high note as Mahathir presides over his political requiem

 |May 3, 2017
File pic credit Global Peace Foundation.

The stench of death that hangs heavily over the battleground is all that is left to remind us of an unnecessary war that Mahathir Mohamad started in the totally mistaken belief that Najib Razak, his erstwhile protégé, would be forced into submission in a short, sharp campaign that was code-named “Sledgehammer.”

In spite of bringing the full force of his weapons of mass destruction and deception, backed
by unlimited resources, and the rogue Sarawak Report that would have been the envy of
Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s Reichminister of Propaganda, the war started badly for

In the choice of 1MDB as his primary target, Mahathir was tempting fate, but for the great
political master manipulator, what could be simpler; and you tell me, what could possibly go
wrong? The concept was simplicity itself, fool proof, and its execution would the proverbial
piece of cake. Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler were in a similarly jubilant and reckless mood when they decided to take on the Russian Bear and we know the depth of humiliation the two trouble makers had to endure.

Another historical character who had not done his maths properly when he took on mighty
America in Word War 2 was Japanese Emperor Hirohito. He soon realised, two atom bombs
later, he had been dealt a bad hand and the gamble had turned into a total nightmare. He had bitten off more than he could chew. However the descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu was modest enough to admit that he and his nation must endure the unendurable. Hirohito in that situation had much to be modest about. This little preamble leads me to ask what the three depraved megalomaniacs had in common other than their delusional state of mind. The short answer is that they went to war without knowing their adversaries.

Now our very own delusional man for all seasons has learnt nothing from the lessons of the
past and humming his favourite “Doing It My Way” began to dig a trench to start sniping at
his former best student and protégé, the quiet aristocrat, Najib. Like the trench warfare of the First World War, the War to Save Malaysia by taking pot shots at the constitutionally elected Prime Minister soon developed into a war of attrition and Mahathir’s every move has been checked and rendered ineffectual. Clearly Prime Minister Najib after months of seemingly taking all of this nonsense lying down, started to deploy the full range of weapons in his considerable armoury.

Mahathir is obviously no Napoleon, Hitler or Hirohito although I know he would like nothing better than to be spoken of in the same breath as these luminaries. What could be more flattering to this man who harbours a delusional sense of indispensability to the Malaysian
body politic? The sad thing is that he was convinced that with his capacity for creating a
crisis, imagined or real, where none existed and injecting a non-issue like the 1MDB to spread confusion, hatred and despair across the nation and beyond, Najib would be forced to accept unconditional surrender terms. That, for Mahathir, remains to this day a forlorn hope.

Najib has emerged morally and spiritually stronger than he has ever been. He has not only survived the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” with flying colours, but more to the point, he has now put Mahathir in the correct national context for history to judge. Mahathir
should thank his Goddess of Mercy that in Najib he has an adversary who cares deeply about
values of compassion, honour, justice and fair play.

As an example of this, I once had occasion to mention to Najib after he had publicly expressed his despair with the Chinese voters who gave their overwhelming support to the
opposition, the DAP in particular, in the last election that he described as a tsunami, that he
should leave the Chinese alone for the time being and let them stew in their own juice. He
reproached me and said, “I can’t do that, Tunku. I am Prime Minister for all Malaysians.” There was no earthly need for him to be politically correct because there was no one else
within hearing, just the two of us during that brief moment. He is not a hypocrite, and is
totally inclusive in the way he runs the affairs of our country, in the larger interests of all.

Tunku Abdul Aziz is the former Special Adviser to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Establishment of the UN Ethics Office and former Adviser to Bank Negara Malaysia.