Here in Kuching at least, where the crux of DAP political influence is taking root, the former prime minister is seen as someone who is autocratic and responsible for all that are said to be wrong in the country. In its manifesto which was unveiled for the state polls, DAP mocked Dr Mahathir’s tag line, which was made when he was in office, especially pertaining to corruption.
Emblazoned on one of its campaign posters was a comparison of Dr Mahathir’s stand. He was quoted as saying of promoting his motto: “Amanah (trustworthy), Bersih (clean), Cekap (efficient)”. The line was placed next to a more recent picture of him, with another quote which says: “Corruption scandals in Malaysia went beyond billions.”
What DAP is trying to imply is the hypocrisy and rhetoric practised by Dr Mahathir whenever things did not go his way. While the peninsula-based DAP leaders tried their best to champion Dr Mahathir as a fighter against the corrupt, the party’s state chapter here is throwing another perspective to the voters.
Appearing reluctant to accept its top leaders’ political posturing towards a “former” enemy, the Sarawak DAP here appears as if it could not care less about kowtowing to even stalwarts like Lim Kit Siang. Recently, those who frequented DAP ceramah and campaigns said Dr Mahathir was, at best, being used as a fodder against the Barisan Nasional government.
“They are not taking Dr Mahathir seriously. In fact, many (from DAP) here are averse to the idea of having him as part of their testimonial campaigns against BN,” said an observer.
There were rumours that he might make an appearance in Sarawak, towards the end of the polls. However, it is known that a majority of Sarawakians have reservations about Dr Mahathir. He is basically shunned across the political divide, as proven by DAP’s insinuation of hypocrisy and Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s open declaration at numerous events that Datuk Seri Najib Razak had done more for Sarawak than Dr Mahathir.
Suffice to say, the strong dislike for Dr Mahathir is not confined to politics but rather a general sentiment of Sarawakians, which is an open secret for quite some time even during the administration of Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud as chief minister. DAP’s divided view of the once, respected man has displayed his waning popularity with the rakyat, despite the rallies and protests against the Federal Government.