Of all the congratulatory messages on Dr Mahathir Mohamad becoming Prime Minister of Malaysia once again, the one by ESM Goh Chok Tong seems to have struck a chord.
The 76-year-old basically alluded to the shared affinity of Mahathir and Lee Kuan Yew: that of love of country.
After his swearing-in as PM on Thursday night, Mahathir addressed the media and there were a few times when he said “we really love this country.” It came across as truly heartfelt and genuine.
It hit home that Mahathir was not on a personal vendetta when he marshalled the Opposition to topple the government – he did it because he cared deeply about his country.
If we were to reflect on it, it becomes crystal clear.
Why would a 92-year-old (he turns 93 in July), deep in the winter of life, go through the pain and trouble of forming a political party and fighting the mother of all elections, if not for love of country?
We understand why Malaysians have been so prepared to put aside Mahathir’s wrongdoing during his previous tenure as PM of Malaysia for 22 years (which he has more than once apologised for). They embraced Mahathir as their leader and saviour so they could start afresh and build a better future for the country.
Malaysia is lucky to have someone like Mahathir.
And let’s not forget that Singaporeans are lucky to have had Lee Kuan Yew. Whatever our politics, we cannot deny that Singapore’s founding Prime Minister loved his country deeply and immeasurably.
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