So much time has been spent discussion the legacy of the three premiers we have had since 1981. But in many ways, it is a pointless exercise, especially when it comes to discussing Najib and Abdullah.
Not when Mahathir is still lurking behind the scenes to the extent many believe he is the real mover and shaker in Malaysia, anxious to preserve his “legacy” (read what you like into that).
Malaysia changed with Mahathir’s coming to power in 1981. The emphasis on heavy industrialisation (Perwaja, Proton), mega projects (Bakun Dam) and mega spending, the crisis in the judiciary, the deterioration in the education system, the introduction of neoliberal economic policies including privatisation, the growing income inequality, the financial scandals beginning with BMF, the crackdown on dissent (e.g. Operasi Lalang), more repressive laws, the exploitation of cheap migrant labour and the weakened overall position of workers – all these took place during Mahathir’s tenure. And of course, the events of 1997-98 – the economic crisis and Anwar’s ouster.