Tuesday 13 November 2012

MARINA MAHATHIR; It is not easy being a daughter of a strongman, especially one who has nearly destroyed all the public institutions in the country in the name of race, religion, nationalism and development.

steadyaku47 comment: Josh Hong puts into words what many of us only think about!

Daughter of a strongman
  • Josh Hong
  • 5:55PM Nov 9, 2012
Park Geun-hye at first thought running for president would be a cakewalk for her. Should her dreams come true, she would become the first female head of state in the modern history of the Korean Peninsula.
NONESouth Korea’s opposition parties were not able to present a challenger of high calibre, while the economic boom over the last few years under President Lee Myung-bak – who comes from the same ruling party as Park’s – appeared to create a feel-good factor that refused to go away.

Her presidential aspiration was also accoladed by her being the daughter of Park Chung-hee, the military strongman who oversaw the most spectacular transformation of an economic backwater into an industrial powerhouse in the 1960s through the 1970s.

Not until a series of corruption allegations against her close aides emerged, which triggered a massive internal strife as is so often the case in South Korean politics. Adding to the disarray in Park’s political campaign is the talk of two other candidates joining forces to ensure the liberal camp would prevail.

Park has since been running neck-and-neck against her rivals in opinion polls. Forced into a corner, she had no option but to publicly apologise for all the wrongdoings committed by the state during her father’s economically miraculous but politically oppressive rule.

For many older South Koreans who lived through the White Terror between 1961 and 1979, Chung-hee was a ruthless leader who tolerated no dissent and showed no qualms in flexing his own iron fist if necessary.
NONEAmong his most prominent targets of assassination was Kim Dae-jung, who was to become the first democratically elected president from the opposition camp in 1997.
Controversially, Chung-hee (right) is also widely credited with paving a firm foundation for South Korea’s future ascension as a developed nation. When one buys a Samsung, Hyundai or LG product today, one ought to know it was Chung-hee who was instrumental in making these domestic business entities global giants of the 21st century.

His legacy as such was so sorely missed that Time magazine named him among the top ten Asians of the Century in 1999.
Taking the moral high ground

By and large, the jury is still out on Chung-hee’s nearly two decades of iron rule, but his human rights violations have finally caught up with his daughter, who is now compelled to make a clean break with her father’s past, something truly extraordinary in a deeply filial and Confucian society.

Up until then, she had remained silent on the issue but has done so to make up for her lack of democratic credentials. In other words, her apology is meant to regain the moral high ground over her opponents.

While not quite our answer to Park, at least not in terms of electoral politics, there is no dispute that Marina Mahathir is one of the outstanding public figures Malaysians have seen. Her steadfast fight against stigmatisation of HIV victims is well acknowledged, and she does not mince her words whenever the political scene becomes ugly and idiotic, her solidarity with Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan when the latter came under the contemptuous attack from Perkasa and other Umno members, for instance.
NONEMy highly - and many would say self-indulgently – critical view of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad (left) is well known. Still, I would never question the fact that Mahathir loves his own children dearly, and that his wife Siti Hasmah has been a model prime minister’s wife and is also an elegant Malay lady who always knows her place and never oversteps her boundaries, unlike you know who.

But that is in the private sphere of family life. Publicly however, Mahathir remains the man who has shaped Malaysia beyond recognition over his 22-year rein, and the negative impact of his policies only started to surface after he stepped down.

Down, but not out. Mahathir is so fearful of even a minuscule reversion of his policies that he has been making one irresponsible, divisive and many a time racist statement after another, seeking to tear the country apart with a vengeance and appearing to be the one pulling the strings behind Umno’s thick veil of complexities.

Mahathir at the heart of Malaysian malaise

In her recent interview in Singapore, Marina Mahathir talked candidly about what she considers has gone wrong in Malaysia: the education system, censorship, money politics and the resort to sex in the political scene.
I am certain her views as such echo Malaysian public sentiments, but in choosing to downplay her father’s influence in her position today, I cannot help regretting that she is still not facing up to the realities.

Extensive scholarly research has confirmed it was Mahathir’s long and authoritarian rule that bred cronyism, 
corruption, the suffocation of dissent and the malfunctioning of the judicial and political institutions.NONEFrom Khoo Boo Teik’s 'The Paradoxes of Mahathirism', Jomo Kwame Sundaram’s and Terence Gomez’s 'Malaysia’s Political Economy: Politics, Patronage and Profits', Diana K Mauzy’s and RS Milne’s 'Malaysian Politics Under Mahathir', Ahmad Mustapa Hassan’s 'The Unmaking of Malaysia' and, Barry Wain’s 'The Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times', it has been proven time and again that Mahathir is at the very heart of the Malaysian malaise today.

Among them, Wain (above, left in picture) has written perhaps by far the most important book on Mahathir and claimed also that the strongman had wasted or burned up to RM100 billion on grandiose projects, corruption and currency speculations, an allegation that Mahathir himself fails conspicuously to refute.

Hence, how can Marina Mahathir simply dismiss her father’s political impact on the nation by saying “often people made me feel I had to be responsible for everything he did”, and “sometimes I became the surrogate for criticism”?

Of course she should not be held responsible for Mahathir’s reign of terror, but she must also remember she is who she is today largely due to her father’s powerful presence in the country.
manek urai by election tuan aziz and mukhriz mahathir bn campaign 070709 06Put differently: why were Perkasa and Umno ultra quick to pick on the Bersih committee members and other opposition leaders but were timid to go against her? Would her fate have been vastly different if her father was not Mahathir Mohamad but Muthu, Ah Beng, Ali or David?

Or one may also ask if her siblings Mukhriz (left), Mokhzani and Mirzan would have been super rich if they did not carry the name Mahathir.

Who, as education minister, effectively killed off an initially vibrant campus and student politics? 
Who saw it convenient to play up the nationalistic card and latter lamented (and continues to 
lament) the appalling standard of English among Malaysians?
How many leaders in the world have ever demonstrated a rare show of audacity by sacking three Supreme Court judges and suspending five others in one go?

And, most crucially, who set off the biggest political crisis in Malaysia by mercilessly persecuting Anwar Ibrahim by way of unfounded sex scandals, creating a climate of fear on the part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities and turning the country into an international laughing stock?

‘Hope she habours no political ambitions’

I am not here to judge Marina Mahathir personally, for I do support many of the good causes that she champions and appreciate her timely support for Bersih and other just-minded social movements.
abdullah ahmad badawi and najibMy opinion is simply that she cannot go on criticizing all that has gone awry under both Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (left, in photo) and Najib Abdul Razak (right in photo), without also taking a deep look at what preceded them.

Knowing that she will keep quiet, I can only hope that she harbours no political ambitions, or her father’s long and dark shadow might haunt her as is the case of Park in South Korea.

After all, it is not easy being a daughter of a strongman, especially one who has nearly destroyed all the public institutions in the country in the name of race, religion, nationalism and development.

JOSH HONG studied politics at London Metropolitan University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. A keen watcher of domestic and international politics, he longs for a day when Malaysians will learn and master the art of self-mockery, and enjoy life to the full in spite of politicians.


  1. Unlike her dad, Marina is a well liked lady, very humble but brave and got involved in many charity works. Comparing her with another idiot minister's son is like comparing a rose and cow dung. One is so humble even though her dad is the strongest person in the country. The other is as arrogant as the father, behaves like a gangster and moving around with body guards and cigar in mouth. He thinks that he can do what he likes as his dad will be there for him if he gets into trouble.

  2. Unlike people, ideas need not be respected. Unless we outgrow hypocrisy (greed etc.), communalism (hate) and and feudalism (insecurity), we are doomed to
    mediocrity, deterioration of society, environmental destruction, exploitation, brutality, etc.

  3. We can see up till this day, Mamakthir's influence on Malaysian politics (UMNO) and the Kerajaan of the day! Just read Najis's message to the Indians at Batu Caves and the horse trading shit that is spilled on to the Indian folks and if they were to buy it, then it is really sad to bid Sayonara Malaysia. Sad indeed!

  4. 12knonyziwell it is all documented that the SUPER MAN sacked some top judges n was involved in the CORRECT CORRECT tape-- an RCI was formed n waht lah ??. a legacy of corruption he left behind-- good n bravo??

  5. Sir,

    We have many options in life but choosing our parents is not one of them.

  6. What Siti Hasmah once said still irk my wife: telling Wan Azizah to stay at home and look after her children (instead of travelling all over the country) when Anwar got into trouble with Dr. Mahathir! At that time Nurul Izzah was only 17!

    Marina once said that her brother is a graduate of Wharton Business School, so don't expect him to 'goreng pisang' for a living.