In the world of self-serving inspirational Tumblr posts, an apology is either a sign of weakness or an indication of true strength. However in the world of Dr. Mahathir, an apology is like a “free parking” sign in KL –
No no, we’re kidding of course. You can still get free parking in KL.
Yea, that’s a pretty longwinded way of saying that Mahathir isn’t a man who apologizes too often. But to our surprise, his most recent blog post was an apology for taking away the Agong’s power to approve or reject Parliamentary Bills. This led us to wonder if he had made any other public apologies…. and the answer is yes, he has!
But at the same time, be prepared for a really short article because the fact that we’re saving his Agong apology as the first point shows how desperate we are for content 😳
1. Mahathir apologizes for… Taking away the Agong’s power to approve laws! (2016)
“I would like to apologise for the amendment to the constitution which made the approval and signature of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong no longer necessary for the legalising of an act of Parliament.” – Dr. Mahathir, as quoted in Chedet.cc.
So here’s the background… Back in 1983, there was a bit of a disagreement between Mahathir and the Malaysian Royalty called the 1983 Constitutional Crisis. Up till that point, any Bill (kinda like a proposal for a law) MUST get the approval of the Agong before it can be a legit law. Mahathir wanted to remove that condition from the Federal Constitution, meaning that a Bill only needs the approval of the Dewan Rakyat and the Dewan Negara.
Basically, Mahathir needed the Agong to approve a Bill that removes the Agong’s ability to approve a Bill.
But after a whole lot of drama, they came up with a compromise – The Agong could postpone and suggest changes to a Bill, but it will still automatically become law after 60 days (Click here to read our article about this).
The other thing Mahathir wanted to do was to place the power to declare Emergency (Darurat) into the hands of the Prime Minister. If you remember, the Agong is the only person who can do this; and (thankfully?) it remained that way. Until 26 days ago at time of writing.
Well, thanks to the whole Agong-cannot-reject-Bill thing, the National Security Council (NSC) Act came into effect on August 1st without the Agong’s approval or changes recommended by the Sultans. Remember how we just said that the power to declare Emergency was only in the hands of the Agong? It’s sorta-kinda not true anymore because the NSC now allows the Prime Minister to put any area of any size within the country in Emergency-like conditions.
And that’s what Mahathir was apologizing for.
Of course, he didn’t stop there. He goes on to mention how his amendment to the Constitution was not total, so the passing of the NSC was a misinterpretation of the changes he had made:
“The consent and signature is still needed if the act impinges on the authority and position of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. And the National Security Act certainly impinges and makes the power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to declare a state of Emergency superfluous and unnecessary. For this Act the assent and signature of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong remains necessary.” – Dr. Mahathir, as quoted from Chedet.cc
This kinda leads into his other apology, which was that…
2. Mahathir apologizes for… His bad taste in successors! (2015, 2016)
“How did I know when I chose? I am sorry and apologise to all.” – Dr. Mahathir, quoted from Malaysiakini.
You might be familiar with the phrase “Killing two birds with one stone”, but Mahathir did one better by (verbally!) tembakking two Prime Ministers in one lecture!
Although he didn’t drop any names, he got much laughter and applause from the 4,000 attendees at a public lecture with this lil’ zinger of a reply when someone asked him if he had considered the leadership potential of his successors before selecting them:
“We can only guess, when someone is known as ‘Mr Clean’, we choose lah, but once he entered the arena, he became dirty.
So I tried to find a cleaner replacement. Who knew this new guy’s idea [would be] ‘cash is king’ and if you give people money, they will like you … But in giving money to people, we must have money. If don’t have, can do business, but not if we are holding a position [in government], but stealing, can.” – Dr. Mahathir, quoted from Malaysiakini
No prizes for guessing the two people he was referring to 😉
This wasn’t the first time he’s made an apology about his successor choices though. In a blog post addressed to his ex-Deputy Musa Hitam – who left under unhappy circumstances – Mahathir put the blame for the failure of his Wawasan 2020 vision solely on himself:
“I did not train anyone so they can make a success of Vision 2020. I believed in leadership by example. I must have set a bad example because those who succeeded me all failed to make a success of Vision 2020. I am to blame of course.” – Dr. Mahathir, quoted from Chedet.cc
3. Mahathir apologizes for… Failing the Malays! (2002)
“I achieved too little result from my principal task, the task of making my race a successful race, a race that is respected, a race that is honourable, a race that is highly regarded. I beg your pardon because I have failed.” – Dr. Mahathir, as quoted from Utusan.my.
During the 2002 UMNO General Assembly, Mahathir delivered a particularly long speech that covered the economy, the direction Malaysia was going, the dangers of Islamization and, very oddly, how he failed to raise the status and perceptions of the Malay race. Even more oddly, he followed up his apology with this statement:
“I pray that from among the Malays there will emerge a leader capable of changing certain characters of the Malays and the bumiputeras so that they will have the culture more compatible with success.” – Dr. Mahathir, as quoted from Utusan.my.
And then it all made sense when he tearfully announced his immediate resignation as both Prime Minister and President of UMNO. Needless to say, many tears were shed on that day.
But seriously, there were way too many feels to handle. Even watching the video of him trying to contain his emotions choked us up. The good news is that he did stay on for a while after the announcement, which prompts the next point…
4. Mahathir apologizes for… Choosing work over family! (2002)
“I’m sorry, I have to put the party ahead of the family” – Dr. Mahathir, as quoted by Mokhzini Mahathir, as quoted by Philippine Inquirer. ← Quoteception.
While most of us have the perception that Dr. Mahathir would be this strict authoritarian father at home; his daughter, the equally popular Marina Mahathir, has said that it’s actually quite the opposite – he’s actually the “joker” while his usually mild-mannered wife Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah is the disciplinarian. Marina Mahathir has also described him as a doting father to her six siblings and overly indulgent grandfather to his 18 grandchildren.
As mentioned, Mahathir’s resignation as Prime Minister and UMNO President was supposed to have happened immediately after his surprise 2002 announcement, but party members convinced him to stay for another 16 months because “they still needed him“. His son, Mokhzani Mahathir said that while the family had long awaited Mahathirs resignation because his job didn’t allow him to spend time with them, the apology came as a surprise:
“This was the first time in my 41 years as a son that he said such a thing to me … All this time my father had sacrificed himself for the party, the people, and the nation, putting them above his own family.” – Mokhzani Mahathir
So yea, Dr. Mahathir really doesn’t apologize very much…
We’re pretty sure this isn’t an exhaustive list of the number of times Mahathir apologized (in public or on record anyway), but before you say we’re getting sloppy with our research, please try to understand that kita pun ada kesusahan jugak.
And this kesusahan comes from the fact that when we pair up the word “Mahathir” with words like “apology” or “sorry” on Google, what we get are people asking Mahathir to apologize!
But still, the fact that he’s beginning to open up to some of his mistakes – whether about his previous policies or to specific people like Musa Hitam – is a good sign, but whether you see it as a man who’s trying to make peace or because there’s a new political party on the way depends on whether or not your hearts are as cold and jaded as ours (Kidding).
But regardless, we feel it’s best to end this with a quote from a wise philosopher who knows a thing or two about saying sorry:
“Is it too late now to say sorry? Yeah, I know-oh-oh, that I let you down. Is it too late to say I’m sorry now?” – Justin Bieber, quoted from AZLyrics.