Malaysia problem Everyone has the right right

A "competent authoritarian" becomes Malaysia's premier at the age of 92

The Malaysian voters on Wednesday certainly succeeded in one thing: the youth cult that has spread in global politics has come to an end. To calculate the age of the new premier, you have to add around 2/3 Kim Jong-un (34) to a Sebastian Kurz (31) plus an Emmanuel Macron (40) - then you are where Mahathir Mohamad is: at 92 Years of life. He spent 22 of them at the helm of Malaysia before retiring in 2003. The restless man was so dissatisfied with his successors that he now wanted to know again.

For this he even left the party to which he had dedicated half his life - the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which had ruled as a sub-organization of the Barisan Nasional since the country's independence in 1957.

"Law on Internal Security"

But with all the talk that can now be heard about a democratic upheaval, one thing is definitely not Mahathir: a liberal democrat. In his first reign, the trained pediatrician, who also practiced this profession in the 1940s, did not treat the opposition gently: he had many critics locked up on the basis of the "Law on Internal Security" without trial, and he did so before his own party not stop.

He had Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim thrown out of the party at the end of the 1990s and later thrown into prison, amid politically exaggerated accusations of corruption and "homosexual acts", which were forbidden in Malaysia. He held onto power through laws that favored Muslim Malays, who make up over half of the population.

Anti-Semitic statements

In other respects, too, Mahathir ruled with recourse to what he himself called the "Asian model": authoritarian, but pragmatic, growth-oriented - and, unlike his now-elected successor Najib Razak, not excessively corrupt.

Whereby Mahathir repeatedly made bad headlines in terms of foreign policy: Partly with conspiracy theories against the USA and its foreign policy, again and again with wild tirades against Israel, which later also resulted in open anti-Semitism - and went as far as the obvious approval of the Holocaust. Viewed in this way, many will not see it as a mistake that he wants to hand over power to his deputy in the opposition in two years' time. To that Anwar Ibrahim, whom he once had thrown into prison. (Manuel Escher, May 11, 2018)