Mahathir is more than an individual
I agree with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim that the former prime minister Mahathir Mohammed is quite irrelevant in Malaysian politics.
Mahathir having served the country not once for 22 years and the second time for 22 months is more than enough to suggest that he hardly contributed by way of making the Malaysian society cohesive and integrated.
Conversely, by pitting the Malays against the non-Malays in the name of Malay hegemony he created a permanent rift between the Malays and non-Malays.
The use of race and to some extent religion he ensured that politicians, bureaucrats and their cronies were left unchecked in the gross accumulation of wealth and privilege.
In fact, the narrative of Malay hegemony was a convenient weapon against counter narratives based class and other forms of solidarity.
Mahathir might have been the prime minister for a long period, but when comes to political and social stability, there is nothing to speak about his contribution.
Mahathir might be irrelevant, in that he is regurgitating the same old extreme ethnic narrative. But as a person he is irrelevant, but his ideas of the country belonging to Malays, the non-Malays being disloyal immigrants, the open minded Malays are danger to Malay hegemony and others.
In other words, while Mahathir might be irresponsible, but his extreme views are shared especially those in the opposition coalition of PN. Mahathir might have offended leaders such as Muhyiddin Yassin, Hadi Awang and others in the past, but they have come together to dismantle the unity government.
They are vehemently opposed to Anwar.
The Malay Proclamation, the idea that Malaysia is a Malay country, never mind Sabah and Sarawak, the Federal Constitution is Malay based have resonated well with PN and its supporters.
It doesn’t matter whether the pact between Mahathir and the PN leaders is long lasting, but it serves as a platform to bring down the government of Anwar.
Sadly there Malays who think that Mahathir has contributed a lot to the nation, never mind the fact that how he enriched his family and cronies. Anwar’s move against corruption is the precipitating factor that has brought these dubious politicians together.
Such a move is not only threatening to lay bare the misdeeds of these leaders while they held power but the extent of the financial misdeeds that enriched those close to them.
In other words, the Malay hegemony narrative is not so much about Malay rights and privileges, but ensuring the Malay political elite are not excluded from the material benefits.
In this sense, Mahathir is not just a person but he represents a segment of society that has powerful material and ideational stake in the society.
I am sure Anwar is fully cognisant of the class segment that is opposed to his reforms particularly those touching on eradication of corruption.