11 September, 2008

The Mentor and the Protégé

Very few World leaders have won my complete respect and admiration as Mr. Mahathir Mohammad has done. Not only did he, in a relatively very short time, engineer and oversee the rapid modernization and phenomenal growth of Malaysia which has lead to the living standards of Malaysians rising by leaps and bounds, and making his country's literacy and infant mortality rates becoming almost on par with those of developed countries - but he has also, always stood up to Malaysian values and culture; and has always been open and outspoken. Whatever his detractors and his enemies might say, they all know that during Asia's financial crisis of the last years of the last decade - had Dr. Mahathir not, uncannily, stood up to IMF's prescription and 'economic package'; and completely defied international pressure and of most of those around him - his country won't have been as unaffected and couldn't have recovered as fast as it did.

It's with these thoughts in mind, that I find it hard to understand the enormous rift and antagonism between him and his one time close ally, deputy and protégé: Anwar Ibrahim. What could have caused such animosity between the two? Two people who are undoubtedly very smart and who were once very close friends and allies; two people who both love and care for their country very deeply. What could have caused Mahathir Mohammad to come so hard against Anwar Ibrahim: in any Muslim country - to be accused of sodomy is possibly the worse charge one can level against a man. Could it be that, simply because the two had conflicting views on how to govern Malaysia, how to tackle corruption and how to react to the then Asian financial crisis, the two could have been so torn apart?

Politics is dirty business; very dirty indeed. Political relationships and friendships can be very short lived. Many a time, very close allies have swiftly and ruthlessly turned against each other; some times to the extent of one murdering the other. Still, in Dr. Mahathir's and Mr. Ibrahim's case, it's sad and rather disturbing to see and have such two very smart people - who are super role models to many - tearing each other in such a way. In such a public way. To many around the World, especially Muslims, Mr. Mahathir Mohammad will undoubtedly remain one of the greatest and most admired leaders of the last century; and to many too, it would have been very comforting and fulfilling, if Mr. Mahathir's protégé: Anwar Ibrahim, had continued carrying the torch and the mantle in Malaysia.

Photo: The Daily Life