Monday, April 25, 2011

Conversations with Mahathir

Borrowed this book mainly to read Dr M's thoughts about S'pore & his view on Lee Kuan Yew. Is not an easy read by the interviewer Tom Plate as is the same format as his earlier interview with LKY. Writing in an easy to read style like Robert Kiyosaki is a talent which i find missing among academics. A few takeaways from the book:
  • Deeply convinced deep in his gut that western precriptions for Msia during Asian Financial Crisis won't work & is proven right.

  • Regards LKY as an over-the-top, overly ambitious chinese would-be post-modern neo-emperor who couldn't be trusted.

  • Admits he's poor at picking successors - Anwar & Badawi

  • Does not believe in big military spending - at most 1% of gdp

  • Remain in power for 22 years. 1 of undeniable achievement is getting chinese minority to buy into a system that in effect handicapped them.

Dr M & LKY are loggerheads.
Normally, when somebody, a PM visits another PM you go down & receive him. However they sent a protocol officer to receive me & put me in a holding room waiting for the big man. I call this the S'pore Protocol.
So... afterward when their minister or PM comes here i reciprocate back similarly.

Similarities between Dr M & LKY:

- Work out daily for their health
- Relish making painful decisions
- Profess similar social-Darwinian views
- welcome outside investment while watching over them like a hawk
- stoutly defend Asian values
- Often lecture their countrymen
- In awe of Israeli national achievements
- Utterly detest golf-slowest & most masochistic waste of time

Dr M's views:
"5 out of 13 states are under opposition rule & in parliament we have never been without a vocal opposition. Of course, if they step beyond the limits like trying to raise racial tension & all that the government will have to act but otherwise they are free. I myself believe that we need the opposition. We need opposition because otherwise we would not know when we go wrong. But not too powerful an opposition that can frustrate everything that you want to do. "

"If i think people just don't want a person, i have to respond so i retire people."

"Too much Gini (income gap among population) can lead to political instability unless you impose severe political repression."

His view on Gini is a big issue facing S'pore now as we now have the widest income gap among developed economies. Isn't it any wonder the ruling party is coming up with fancy ways such as Nominated Member of Parliament (no voting rights), gerrymendering & Group Representation Constituency system to repress alternative viewpoints?

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