The Islamists have progressed in elections held in three countries recently: Tunisia, Libya, and Malaysia. The latter is the biggest surprise. This was a political earthquake that overthrew the leader of a corrupt government, the now ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak. The elections reinstated Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister. He was behind the Malaysian renaissance and is a founder of the modern state, and is back in power 15 years after he resigned from the position in which he served his country for almost 25 years.
During his time as Prime Minister, he was able to turn Malaysia from an agricultural country relying on the production and export of raw materials into an advanced industrial state with the industrial sector contributing about 90 per cent of its domestic production. Manufactured goods make up about 85 per cent of Malaysia’s total exports. In addition, the country experienced prosperity and economic growth while he was in office, which led to an extraordinary rise in the income of Malaysian citizens. Dr Mohamad did not burden his country with World Bank loans and the future generations were not crippled by his debts. He viewed the World Bank as a new form of economic colonisation of developing or third world countries, and was firmly opposed to globalisation. He deserved to be the most influential Asian leader in the world.
However, this did not stop him from ruling Malaysia with an iron fist. He believed that a fair tyrant was necessary at that stage of building the country in order to achieve all of his ambitions and the desired renaissance. He sacked his deputy and renaissance companion, Anwar Ibrahim, whose top priority was preserving Malaysia’s Islamic identity, something that he had worked on from an early age. Ibrahim has formed the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia, which marked the beginning of his career in politics. This paved the way for him to become one of the most prominent political personalities in the country, while the star of Mahathir Mohamad was shining in Malaysia’s political constellation.
A disagreement between the two men followed the economic crisis that hit East Asia in the 1990s. They exchanged accusations and Mahathir Mohamad dismissed Ibrahim from his political posts and put him in prison on unfair charges that were offensive to him as a politician. Nevertheless, the game of politics prompted the former Prime Minister to ally with him again in the latest elections, which delivered an unexpected blow to the government. Despite the fierce hostility between the two men which lasted 18 years, they managed to turn a new page and start over, allowing them to win the elections and edge out Najib Razak, who was backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Mahathir Mohamad went against the internationally prevalent trend, which is anti-Islamist, when he allied with Anwar Ibrahim, who is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Moreover, he made good on his promise immediately after his election victory and issued an amnesty for Ibrahim. He met him straight after his release from prison.
Dr Mohamad’s victory was also a blow to both Mohammad Bin Zayed and Mohammad Bin Salman, the Crown Princes of the UAE and Saudi Arabia respectively, who have conspired against the nation. They are the funders of all the counter-revolutions and the anti-Islamist regimes and movements, and are believed to have spent vast sums of money in order to ensure Najib Razak won the Malaysian election. They stood firmly against the opposition coalition in order to prevent it from winning, but all of their plans and conspiracies failed and their money was wasted.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been accused of money laundering through a fund headed by Razak. His defeat thus means a double loss for the two Gulf States, creating tension between them and the new government in Malaysia. Furthermore, Malaysia under Najib Razak was loyal to Saudi Arabia and a member of the Arab coalition in Yemen. This is a challenge for the new government. Will it remain within the coalition, despite Mahathir Mohamad’s anger with Riyadh for the estimate $681 million gift it gave Razak? My prediction is that Malaysia will not remain in the Saudi-led coalition and that it will emerge from under the Saudi cover. I believe that Mahathir Mohamad will restore Malaysia’s independence and complete the renaissance that he began.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.