You might say Fearless Leader was back. 

Or maybe he never left. For a former leader with a 12-year prison sentence hanging like the kris of Hang Lekiu over his greying head, Fearless seemed remarkably cheerful as he tramped the hills and dales of Sabah campaigning for the Barisan Nasional (BN). 

Indefatigable was the word to describe Fearless and, watching from his safe haven not in China, Felonious aka Jho the Low, an erstwhile aide-de-camp and not-so-trusty sidekick, whistled admiringly. 

While not safely ensconced in China, Felonious was also rich beyond the dreams of avarice. The fact that Fearless wasn’t safe at all was what elicited the whistle of admiration in the first place but Felonious was nothing if not philosophical. One out of two was still good, shrugged the ample artist. 

“You can’t have everything,” concluded the round robber before turning his attention to more weightier matters of state like how much he had to pay the authorities for another year of not staying in China. It brought a proud smile to Papa Low’s face: that’s my boy, he thought affectionately, always a stickler for detail. 

And it was true too. Detail had been one of the comely girls Felonious had dated in Hollywood but that, grumbled Fearless, was neither “here nor there”. 

“What about me?” grumbled Fearless Leader and it was a good, if loaded, question. 

It was good because its right answer was invariably bad where Fearless was concerned and it was loaded because it looked like he might soon be shot into that place where, without collecting $200, one goes directly to.

How had it come to this? 

The kindly kleptocrat had followed all the right measures, listened to the right people, even read Lloyd George: “To be a successful politician, you have to learn to bury your conscience.” 

Felonious didn’t know about the former but he knew quite a bit about consciences. A pleasantly piquant 1976 Dom Ruinart Blanc would bury it pretty deep, agreed the beefy bandit cheerfully. 

And yet, Fearless remained cool under pressure. This was unlike Mrs Fearless who no longer had anything to say and was saying it so loudly that her silence was deafening. 

It was seriously out of character and it put to the lie the so-called wisdom that she had been the real power behind the throne. 

Nope, it had been Fearless all along. He remained calm, however, by dint of blame: he blamed everyone from Felonious and the bankers to Goldman Sachs and the lawyers. 

In between, he blamed the takers as well, arguing that “if they did not take, he would not have had to give.” It was a compelling argument   which, unfortunately, had no takers. 

Fearless even contemplated blaming it on the bossa-nova and had to be talked out of it by his lawyer, the eminent Scruffy A who took time off his tax-dodging troubles to remonstrate with his client. 

Blame was all right but what Fearless really needed was a good, old-fashioned miracle. He was optimistic and was nothing, if not religious, which was unlike his not-so-trusty sidekick, Felonious, whose faith was such that the church he did not attend was Christian on its off-days. 

You could not say the same about Fearless. Historians will attest that he whispered a mumbled prayer immediately after being sworn in in 2009. 

It was soft but it was clear. “Let us prey,” was the humble entreaty. And the rest, as they say, is history.  


Looking on as Pakatan Harapan attempts to get its leadership sorted out is like watching grass grow. 

It seems interminable even when they are nowhere near the reins of government.  And now we have former Transport Minister Anthony Loke assuring us that it’s okay to have Dr Mahathir as PM-designate – in the event PH takes over, that is – because we “have safeguards” to make sure he will step down in favour of Anwar Ibrahim after “six” months. 

Says who? That might be classified under “famous last words” or as songwriter Neil Young might have summed up: “Helplessly hoping.”  

To the forgiving Tony, it’s about trust. Put yourself in the other man’s shoes for a minute: To Anwar Ibrahim, it’s been twice bitten already.  

And there seems something hopelessly lopsided about the whole dynamic. The story of Anwar has been spun so very deftly by various Dr Mahathir allies that we have generally taken it as gospel. 

It is this: that he is so ambitious that he will do anything to be premier. This was reinforced by Dr Mahathir himself saying: “He is crazy to become the PM.” And this, ironically after the ex-physician resigned as premier and set into motion the whole ball of unfortunate wax that we are now confronted with. 

Ambition is not a crime. If it were, Dr Mahathir should have been locked up years ago. “Even the smallest dog can raise his leg against the tallest building,” was how the word was once explained. It could be the perfect description. 

Peering through the same critical lens, what are we to make of Dr Mahathir now?

The man is neither young nor a visionary. Bluntly put, he is the Methuselah of world politics who blew his chance at redemption when given it on a platter two years ago.  

When Robert Mugabe continued ruling into his 90s, he was accused of “clinging on” to power. And Nelson Mandela retired at 80, when the applause was loudest. So, you’d think the doctor would know better. 

But no, not Dr Mahathir. He keeps returning like the proverbial bad penny.  

After 22 years as premier and another 22-month stint as the premier after May 2018, it seems the nonagenarian politician wants yet another bite at the cherry. 

Does it not strike anyone as being “selfishly ambitious?” A “lusting for power?” Even a little, “crazy to be the PM?” 

And if he does get his wish, are we then to believe, as the trusting Anthony Loke does, that he will step down in six months in favour of a man he has twice denied? 

No one believes that for a minute. Which brings us to the real question: Why does he want to come back?

If it is to lecture nations like the US, Singapore or India on how to manage their affairs, please spare us. 

If it is to start another car project or some pie-in-the-sky gold dinar trading scheme, perish the thought!

If it is to sell perfectly well-run government assets to private hands for no reason other than 1) they are your friends and 2) they might help spur other Bumiputera entrepreneurs, give us a break. 

It didn’t work before and ended in tears amid enormous debt. 

So, again, why?