LAST evening I was invited for a berbuka puasa with the Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, at the Perdana Leadership Foundation (PLF) in Putrajaya.
I saw many familiar faces – men and women – who during good and bad times had stuck with THE man.
But I also saw many who had been absent from his berbuka puasa and other functions for quite a few years. I felt no sense of remorse when I greeted them with disdain.
They deserved it. They abandoned and disregarded the very person who made them rich and powerful in the first place.
What was his sin? Nothing! But these hypocrites and backstabbers shied away from him because they were afraid of losing their plump contracts, projects and concessions.
It’s hard for me to believe that they did to him. I have been is this business of scribing for 49 years. I met these people when they were young businessman struggling to make a name for themselves or were learning the ropes from their elders.
And it was during the 22-year that Dr Mahathir was Prime Minster (1981 – 2003), thanks to the good management of the economy, that they rose to become millionaires and billionaires.
Some of them were not even businessman. They were academicians, civil servants and technocrats but the Mahathir era turned them into corporate figures – genuine and pseudo.
When Dr Mahathir was in power they celebrated him as if he was a “Tua Pek Kong” and man of miracle. He was lavishly praised and even more lavishly feasted.
But when he left office but yet continuing to care for the country, many of these people abandoned him for fear that supporting or just being seen with him would jeopardize their billion dollar contracts, projects concessions or subject them to the scrutiny of the Inland Revenue Board.
The situation became worst when he joined and finally led the opposition in an effort to save the nation by democratically overthrowing the kleptocratic government of (Datuk Seri I Mappadulung Daeng Mattimung Karaeng Sandrobone Sultan Abdul Jalil) Mohd Najib Abdul Razak.
The mere mention of Dr Mahathir caused them to cringe. Their fear of the government was childlike. It appears as if the puja of the “pawang buaya” and the priest from Sri Lanka had been put on them.
Of course there were those who were totally and completely devoted to the ousted Prime Minister and his wife (Datin Paduka Seri Puan Puti Reno) Rosmah Mansor.
They keep away from Dr Mahathir and whoever he was associated with.
The majority of them had not thought that Dr Mahathir and his new Pakatan Harapan (PH) team could pull it off against the money and might of Najib’s Barisan Nasional (BN).
Very few businessmen dared to support him overtly. Those who did were punished. But there were a handful who, I am told, supported his struggle overtly.
I had bumped into some of these corporate characters while campaigning for PH. They camped in Langkawi to make sure that Dr Mahathir did win the island constituency.
They brought with them entertainers and performers to draw away crowd from his rallies. I know some of these people. They were nothing when I first met them during my younger days but are today Tan Sri and billionaires.
Their hypocrisy and lack shame put me off. But still I accepted their handshake for the sake civility and common courtesy.
These people must know or, be made to know, that this is not BN government. This is the PH government which has promised to be different, open and transparent.
They cannot and should not expect their multi-billion ringgit public contracts, projects and concessions and, above all, their shenanigans, to be left unnoticed.
The new government has made it clear that mega projects and negotiated contracts will be re-examined and re-evaluated.
While the government may have to continue working with these people, it must take cognizant of the fact that there are many struggling businessmen and women who fearlessly supported the coalition.
Their sacrifices and bravery must not be forgotten. This government must endevour to give the best to the rakyat while helping genuine businessman to flourish.
They should never be sidelined in favour of the fat cats and top dogs of the central business district.
I have not the slightest doubt that Dr Mahathir still has the golden touch to make this country great again, Insya Allah.
I thank Tan Sri G. Gnanalingam for reminding me that I have not lost a single election that I got involved in – on behalf of the BN then and PH now.
Cari makan is important but dignity is a virtue not to be forgotten. I cannot imagine millionaire Datuks and billionaire Tan Sris kowtowing to dedak eating konco of Mohd Najib.
Source : A Kadir Jasin