Prime Minister Marina Mahathir said……..

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

By Sahathevan

Prime Minister Marina Mahathir said……..

No one paid me to say this, and no one asked me to say it. However, it now all seems so simple. Malaysia is facing a battle of the women, or at least led by the women. UMNO , and the BN , if they are to survive as a force in Malaysian politics, may have to come up with their own champion, a cross between Corrie Acquino and Megawati Sukarnoputri, if they are to remain relevant to Malaysian politics.

In the Pakatan corner we have Nurul Izzah, who is able to draw the crowds and is spoken of by some (or is that many?) as the logical replacement for her scandal tainted father, Anwar Ibrahim.Her age counts against her, but she is Malay and satisfies the convention that the prime minister be bumiputera. Anwar himself must realise that he longer draws the crowds, and in any case carries too much baggage , not the least from his UMNO antecedents.

Bersih 2, and now 3, has proven that it is no longer Anwar that draws the crowds ; larger each time , and always summoned by Ambiga Sreenivasan. The crowds are not necessarily drawn to her but she has certainly provided the leadership.Ordinarily she would be spoken of as a potential prime minister, somewhat like say Corrie Acquino was after she lead the masses against Marcos, but the reality is that the Malay majority would never accept a non-Malay prime minister. Otherwise, she is of the right old age, and is from the legal fraternity that has been traditional source of politicians.

Nevertheless, Ambiga seems to be in UMNO’s cross-hairs. Might then UMNO strategists be wondering whether they too should start thinking of a woman leader, and do in Malaysia what the Thakshin family has done in Thailand to salvage its power and influence, substituting sister Yingluck for exiled brother Thaksin Shinawatra? If so, there is only one choice even if she is not yet an MP, and that would be Marina Mahathir.

In Marina one can see a lot of what Ambiga has stood for and has demonstrated popular support While much older than Nurul Izzah she has demonstrated at least an empathy with the issues , norms and values of younger Bumiputeras. As well she seems to identify well with younger Chinese and Indians. She is from all accounts her father’s daughter even if her public musings seem at odds with his.Both appear to share boundless energy , some secret fountain of youth, and a belief in themselves which allows them to depart from convention when required.

Despite criticism of him and his tenure as prime minister Tun Mahathir remains popular and influential, and those hankering back to the roaring 90s when he was PM could see in Marina a clone that could make it all happen again. One suspects that younger brother Mukhriz would agree, even it means that his ambition (if any) of becoming prime minister would be curtailed.

Readers might think the above simplistic given the existing hierarchies within UMNO. However, when the prospect of a hung parliament is being openly discussed, and with Idris Jala insisting regardless that “and already” he has made a difference, one suspects that within UMNO there is the realization that drastic action is required.

Is it then so unlikely that The Star’s managing editor, Wong Chun Wai, might in the near future , report with the fervour hitherto applied to spiking her stories, be reporting ” Prime Minister Marina Mahathir said…….”.

Sahathevan is a journalist who investigated financial mismanagement in Malaysia prior to the financial crisis in the 1997. Now researching and reporting from Sydney, I continue to have an interest in South East Asian business, economics and politics.