Wednesday, 27 June 2018

The other shoe drops - a $4 Bata sandal

Bata Sandals, RM11.99, Mahathir's choice.
I had mixed feelings when Pakatan Harapan won, and Mahathir became PM of Malaysia again.

I don't trust Mahathir.

But then again, I didn't think Najib could continue. Or should continue. He was bad for Malaysia.

I'm not sure that Mahathir is that much better. But people seem hopeful.

And Anwar is waiting in the wings.

Certainly Mahathir tried to assure sceptics that he was totally focused on getting the job done.

The two years later, Anwar takes over. So, hope.

Mahathir was supposed to be the "cleaner" - take out the Najib trash, start to clean up corruption, terminate bad contracts with China.

And Singapore.

The first hint of his old persona emerged when he summarily and unilaterally decided to terminate the HSR with SG. He had a plausible reason - costs. Except that until today, he has NOT formally informed SG of the decision to terminate the HSR. So we are in limbo on this. And that seems like bad faith, in retrospect. Like holding the HSR hostage.

Not that it matters to us. At least not at this stage. He seems to be under the mistaken impression that we WANT the HSR. At least, more than Malaysia.

But there were good things he did.

Like pulling out of the appeal on the Pedra Branca ruling. That was good for SG, and a logical thing to do. But sceptical and cynical me wondered if he was flipping off Johor. The Johor royalty had spoken out against Mahathir during the campaigning. Dropping the Pedra Branca case would be a disappointment to Johor and the Sultanate.

But it could plausibly be just the pragmatic and practical thing to do since Malaysia's challenge was without merit.

Then there was the suspension of negotiation for the link-up between KL and SG stock exchange. Again, there was a plausible reason. It would not be an even partnership because of our different strengths. (At least that's what I surmised.)

So all the above were suspicious decisions, but nothing conclusive. No obvious smoking gun.

Then he said Malaysia needed a National Car.

That was the old vainglorious Mahathir coming to the fore. Why does MY need a national car?

His Proton had been sold off.

But there was the Perodua. But that's NOT his baby. Not HIS legacy. Not his achievement.

But it was immaterial to SG whether he pursued another National Car wet dream or not. Not our circus. Not our monkey.

Then water.

Like a bad habit, Mahathir decided that the Water Agreement is an old itch he had to scratch. An injustice he had to set right.

Or just an old score he had to settle.

[Historical note: In 2002 when Mahathir proposed RM6.40 for 1000 gallons, SG said no. Mahathir had based this on the price China sells water to Hong Kong but in that case, China paid for the infrastructure. Malaysia only provided access to raw water, and so could not demand such a high price. At about the same time SG commissioned a water recycling plant. 

In 2003, the water agreement negotiation ended with no agreement, and Singapore opened the first two NEWater plants. At about the same time, Mahathir resigns as PM of Malaysia, handing over the PMship to Abdullah Badawi.

Coincidence? Of course NOT! Mahathir won't resign just because he can't sell us over-priced water, or scuttle the Separation Agreement and force Singapore back into the Federation! (That's what it means right? If the Separation Agreement is invalidated by a breach of the Water Agreement, that means Singapore never Separated from Malaysia, and we have to go back to being Malaysians right?) 

That would be so... shallow!]

Mahathir is god. Or at least he believes he is god-like. Infallible.

In management talk, he doesn't take "no" for an answer.

You know who else doesn't take "no" for an answer?


And some faithless Singaporeans overestimate him. They believe that this old fox still has some cunning, some tricks, some mojo.

But watch the old fox.

Mahathir has been on TV talking about what he would do. Talking about what he is thinking about doing. Talking about what he finds ridiculous.

Talk. Talk. Talk.

No Action.

Talk Only.

Even the HSR that he very quickly announced to the press that he is CANCELLING IT -- until today, he HAS NOT FORMALLY TOLD SINGAPORE that Malaysia intends to scrap the HSR. 

Talk. Talk. Talk.

On 25 June 2018, he nonchalantly said, it was “Not urgent” to notify S’pore on HSR status. And, he said, it was not scrapped, just postponed.
“Sometimes, we make public statements without actually finalising the process. When we want to make a decision, we don’t wait until we inform Singapore, we just say something,” he was quoted as saying.
So that newspaper and reporters will get excited and have something to report! He likes being reported. He likes having the media hang on his every word. They matter to him. To his self-image. To his public image. To the image in public that he is carefully crafting.

But he doesn't DARE to talk to the people that he should be talking to - i.e. Singapore.

He is putting off the TALK. He doesn't want to face SG. He doesn't want to have to explain his impulsive decisions. He is just a petulant little schoolboy who don't dare to face the headmaster.

Then on 26 June 2018, another report: “Not urgent” to review water deal with Singapore now: Mahathir

So, he's in no hurry to speak to SG. In Malaysia he can talk big. When talking to SG, we will tell him to stop talking rubbish and talk sense. Then he will look like the dotard that he is.

He talks the way Trump regularly repeats how rich he is. How many times have you heard Warren Buffet, or Bill Gates talk about how rich they are? Truly rich people do not do that. Trump is desperate to convince people that he is rich.

Similarly Mahathir is desperate to convince people that he knows what he is doing. That he has a plan. That he can rescue Malaysia.

That is why he want the Finance Minister to publicise the wrongdoings and scandals of the Najib Administration. The worse they look, the better in comparison Mahathir looks.

But Mahathir is all bluff and bluster. He will talk a good fight, but when it's time to put on gloves, he will suddenly be a man of peace. A "civilised" man.

Dr Mahathir said water is among issues with Singapore “that we need to settle”, adding: “We will sit down and talk with them, like civilised people.”
This Water issue has been discussed to death. At some point he will put on the Coat of False Magnanimity, and either say, a) Cannot deprive SG of water -- it's a humanitarian issue, or b) must consider Johor's needs and how SG is helping Johor. We will just have to suck up the ridiculous costs for the sake of Johor.

Singaporeans have already seen through his sad strategem. Many Singaporeans think he is just raising this to gain some leverage to bargain down the compensation for breaching the HSR agreement. They may be right about his intent, but Mahathir is pathetically wrong.

SG will explain calmly that there is no legal provision to review the water agreement because Mahathir cannot anyhow suka-suka want to review means review. We will firmly close down his attempt to review the agreement.

And then SG will seek compensation for the breach of the HSR agreement. And when Mahathir asks us to be kawan-kawan and lower our demands for compensation, we will say, "like you very kawan-kawan to threaten to review the water agreement, hor?"

He knows this. So that's why he hasn't given formal notice that he is scrapping the HSR, and has changed his tune to "postpone". Not that we (or at least I, and if I can have doubts, I am sure our govt also considered the possibility) believed that the HSR would really be ready by 2026, even without being postponed.
Mahathir is a doctor. I dunno if he was a good doctor. I don't think he is still practicing. 

We have lawyers. Very good lawyers.

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