If, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, then surely the historic picture of the line-up of yesterday’s men, the great and good of Malaysian politics led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that was captured for posterity on Oct 12, must rate a great deal more than the magical thousand.

This disparate group, each with an agenda of his own, that to my amazement included Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, had come together to lend moral support to Dr Mahathir as he set about giving a press conference. It was ostensibly to protest against what he claimed to be the government’s high-handed and unjustified use of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) against Khairuddin Abu Hassan and Matthias Chang, his agents.

The event turned out to be a case of what an irreverent friend referred to as “barking up the wrong tree”. I would not have put it quite like that. I would simply say that the good doctor’s diagnosis was totally wrong because, as the attorney-general explained very clearly, the gentlemen whom the police detained were charged under Section 124L of the Penal Code and not, as Dr Mahathir asserted so vehemently, under Sosma.

The dear fellow somehow got the wrong end of the stick and not, I may add, for the first time since he embarked on his relentless, no quarter given campaign to drive the prime minister out of Putrajaya, the seat of the Federal Government, and citadel of power which has long been the focus of the opposition’s political ambitions.

I sometimes wonder if Dr Mahathir even realises that if he succeeds in his Machiavellian machinations, it is not just Datuk Seri Najib Razak he is ousting; it is the Barisan Nasional government that will go down the chute with the prime minister. There is apparently no accounting for one’s actions when driven by a reckless, untrammelled personal political agenda.

The New Straits Times’ colour picture of Oct 14 said it all, and more. Except for the man of the moment himself, who managed to work up his trademark smirk of self-satisfaction, his five fellow travellers looked decidedly out of place, embarrassed as if they wished they were elsewhere.

It is not too difficult to see why. After all, there was no love lost, for example, between Tengku Razaleigh, the prime minister Malaysia never had and the man to whom he now deigns, for whatever reason, to lend his support. Was it not Dr Mahathir who had denied him the most glittering political prize that was within his grasp, only to be snatched away in what many believed to be suspicious circumstances? So, however well Dr Mahathir might have disguised it, the truth was that it was nothing more than a gathering of jaded cynical political adventurers, hoping to cash in their last few remaining chips and cut their losses, the last hurrah before getting on their bicycles and pedalling away into their political sunset.

Dr Mahathir started all this with his unfortunate accusation of RM42 billion of 1Malaysia Development Bhd money disappearing without a trace. This turned out to be false. He then turned to other matters without being unable, yet again, to produce evidence of impropriety that can stand up in a court of law.

He should, as a matter of honour, stop now before more damage is done to the country he claims to love. Hate Najib by all means. Hang him if he is guilty, if the law allows, but let us not deny him his rights as a Malaysian in his own country. He is not Malaysia and don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. There is only one Malaysia, and for me, my country, right or wrong, comes first. To send emissaries round the world on a mission of financial subversion against your own country and people says a lot about your true motivation when you set on your path of destruction.

Where is Dr Mahathir, the architect and builder of modern Malaysia? Please stand up and be counted, and let our criminal justice system deal with what the prime minister is alleged to have committed.

The writer is a director of the
International Institute for Public Ethics