A familiar face has made Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list this year, and it’s none other than our 93-old-is-gold Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
In the words of his profile’s writer, journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown, made famous herself for blowing the lid off of the 1MDB financial scandal: “You don’t have to be young to fight the power.”
No, Clare, you don’t. But it certainly helps that the nonagenarian wasn’t exactly an unknown when he ran against former leader Najib Razak. Dr. M, as he is popularly known, had previously led Malaysia through happier times as PM for 22 years.
Using his platform, he managed to use both “moral outrage,” and a litany of astute responses both in person, and on social media, to rally the masses into ousting the Barisan Nasional government, his own former coalition party, and the only rulers that an independent Malaysia had ever known.
Those early post-election days were unlike anything many of us had experienced, in Rewcastle Brown’s words it “re-established democracy in a country that almost teetered into totalitarianism.”
Days after the victory, Anwar Ibrahim, the former opposition leader, was released from jail, and Dr. M. has pledged that he will relinquish power to him within two years, though if and how this will happen remain to be seen.
Since coming to power, a Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan coalition has been met with many unexpected obstacles, including an inability to actualize their own pre-victory manifesto; a resurgence of popularity for the former PM, Najib Razak, who is currently on trial for several charges linking back to 1MDB; a trio of lost by-elections; a backlash when they tried to ratify an international agreement pertaining to human rights; and concerned progressive voters who expected a lot more change and a lot less of the same.
But credit where credit is due – that out-of-retirement, comeback kid victory was incredible, and Dr. M’s legendary political acumen is still in top form.
This article, Your name is on the list: Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad makes Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!