‘Malaysians stood as one for Dr Mahathir’
By a Kiwi Malaysian
When the British left Malaya in 1957, I was in school and only 3 million people lived in Malaya. Today about 30 million and 4 million foreigners live and work in the country. The British left Malaya with an efficient civil service, good roads, excellent education and health facilities. The country’s first Prime Minister, Tengku Abdul Rahman was a prince and a British trained lawyer. He was a much-loved leader, he is often referred to as the father of the nation. He was succeeded by Tun Razak, a very able leader, followed by Tun Hussein who was highly respected but died early in his term of office.
Tengku Abdul Rahman mooted the idea of Malaysia which was a confederation of Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak. In the 1960s due to political differences, Singapore left the federation and became an independent city-state under Lee Kuan Yew, another very dynamic leader. The economy of Malaysia was powered by rubber and tin exports. The growth of the auto industry fuelled the demand for natural rubber in the 20th century and Malaya became a rich country. In the 1970s the discovery of oil boosted the economic development of Malaysia. A new strong leader, Dr Mahathir, was elected as the new Prime Minister. Dr Mahathir was a visionary leader; he wanted Malaysia to become a developed country. He formulated the Look East policy i.e. emulate Japan. He governed for 22 years and Malaysia, to a large extent, was going somewhere.
His government was investor-friendly, new highways, malls, and economic zones were established. It is his policies that have made Malaysia a progressive country. This modernization improved the living standards of the population. The negative side of this was terrible pollution and widespread corruption.
After being in power for 22 years, Dr Mahathir retired. Unlike in many other countries, power was transferred peacefully to a new leader, Tun Abdullah, who retired and Datuk Sri Najib took over as Prime Minister. Najib has been named by many foreign agencies as one of most corrupt leaders of the 21st century. He has also become a client of China, he has borrowed billions from them. The citizens realised the cost of living was rising and the ruling clique was oblivious to their sufferings. The masses began to protest and clamoured for a change of leadership. Dr Mahathir once again led the movement and he was returned to power by popular vote.
It was for the first time all Malaysians stood as one to vote Dr Mahathir and his Harapan party to power. In a landmark event, citizens of all religions and races stood united to get rid of the corrupt government. Again the transfer of power was peaceful. There was no violence, as the entire country celebrated and rejoiced. The people of Malaysia realised that every individual has a stake in the future of the nation.
As a Malaysian, I feel proud. The new government is now recovering and exposing the stolen money. Most of the former politicians are under house arrest. I feel Malaysia is going to become a very successful and respected nation once again.