Saturday, June 5, 2010

Malaysian Maverick

This is the Book of the Year – as far as we Malaysians are concerned! I finally purchased a copy and I am finding it an engrossing and engaging read. The book’s author is former Asian Wall Street Journal editor Barry Wain and it’s a Palgrave Macmillan publication (ISBN-13: 978-0-230-23873-2).

“Malaysian Maverick” came into the spotlight after it asserted that up to RM100 billion was squandered under Mahathir’s watch via grandiose projects and corruption. It also touches on the many financial scandals such as those involving the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance affair, the tin trading fiasco, the forex disasters and Perwaja steel. And it describes his Machiavellian intent as he ruthlessly purged rivals, jailed opponents and undermined institutions. Authoritarian and impatient, he pursued his obsession to hold on to absolute power – yet as much as he was calculating, he was also unpredictable. When he did release his hold on the prime ministership on October 31, 2003, it was made in “an atmosphere of near disbelief that his era was finally ending” (p 81). But even to this day, he continued to be vocal as he strove to protect his legacy.

When devouring this book, it reminds me of a saying that I once came across: “Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.” Personally, I am shocked and stunned that Malaysians had permitted Mahathir to do what he did – but like everybody else, I too must share in the blame. At that point in time, I had kept silent. I was indifferent, unconcerned and I couldn’t care less.

I highly recommend this book because it charts Malaysia’s breakneck progress and contemporaneous descent into moral decay.

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