What does it say when Singaporeans look to Mahathir to bring change to Singapore?

(Left to Right) Singapore exile, Tan Wah Piow, PM Mahathir and Malaysian activist Hishammuddin Rais

For starters, it says that the 93-year-old Dr Mahathir Mohamad commands utmost respect and admiration.

Singapore exile Tan Wah Piow and activists like Thum Ping Tjin and Jolovan Wham seemed elated that they scored an 80-minute meeting with Dr Mahathir on Thursday, almost gushing in their follow-up postings and comments.

It also says that Dr Mahathir is a willing party to help advance the agenda of the people who court his support and approval. He apparently accepted in principle an invitation by Tan Wah Piow to speak at a conference in Kuala Lumpur next year.

That certainly comes as no surprise because immediately after winning the Malaysian elections, Dr Mahathir said that “the people of Singapore, like the people in Malaysia, must be tired of having the same government, the same party since independence.”

The Singapore government has so far not risen to the bait and responded directly to Dr Mahathir’s remarks then or subsequently. How would the government view the latest overture by Dr Mahathir?

Oxford-based historian Thum feels that the Singapore government “will be very concerned . . . not because I met with Dr Mahathir, but the fact that the prime minister is prepared to share his views about democracy and to enhance the development of democracy in the region.”

If Dr Mahathir continues to stoke the flames, directly or indirectly, the Singapore government could well say that he is interfering in Singapore politics. But will the government do so, knowing that it would open a Pandora’s box and the feisty Dr Mahathir will not roll over and would certainly be up for the fight?

So chances are the Singapore government will most likely wait and see, and watch with some trepidation. Biting the bullet appears to be its best option for now.

As for Singaporeans, what are to make of all this?

We have to remember that Dr Mahathir has never been a fan of Singapore. Some would say he has had an axe to grind with the Singapore government, not the people of Singapore.

That may well be the case. But it not easy to separate one from the other.

In a nutshell, the well-being of Singaporeans cannot be uppermost in the mind of Dr Mahathir.

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