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Mahathir Mohamad

Why Malaysian election drama will not be playing in Singapore

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 July, 2018, 1:31pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 July, 2018, 9:45pm

It should come as no surprise that Dr Mahathir Mohamad is “no fan of Singapore” (“Why Singapore won’t be repeating Malaysia’s political dramas any time soon”, July 25).

The Malaysian ringgit has gone from weakness to weakness against the Singapore dollar, the gap in GDP per capita by purchasing power parity has widened to more than three times in Singapore’s favour. In other words, the average Singaporean can buy three more of the same items than his Malaysian counterpart at local prices.

Although it shares a common heritage with Malaysia, the Lion City is organised very differently. All its political parties are expected to reflect the island nation’s multicultural diversity – with meritocracy as a core guiding principle of advancement – and identity-driven chauvinism based on race or religion is frowned upon and can lead to arrest and prosecution.

In Malaysia, however, political parties continue to be predominantly organised along communal lines, with Malay supremacy enshrined in the federal constitution.

Malaysia’s king calls for unity amid racial tensions

Dr Mahathir’s decision to come out of retirement at the age of 92 to partner former political foes and save their country from further self-destruction is commendable.

Early signs that race is being de-emphasised for key posts in the new administration are promising.

But the jury’s still out on whether this refreshing pitch for a colour-neutral Malaysia at the institutional level can be sustained beyond another opportunistic manoeuvre by wily plutocrats to amass power.

Watch: Malaysia’s top commercial crime investigator on Najib-linked raids

Without a three-way split in the Malay majority vote during the country’s recent general elections, the status quo may well have entrenched itself further.

Karim Raslan is right to conclude that what has happened in Malaysia, is likely to stay in Malaysia, with little to no spillover effect into Singapore for a variety of reasons.

Democracy for democracy’s sake, and change for the sake of change, cannot be the basis of good governance. Ultimately, it is the enhancement of people’s lives and a country’s stature that ought to matter more than any individual egos. And that’s why these leaders and their respective teams stay in power, election after election.

John Chan, Singapore