Dr Mahathir a great leader but his idea of democracy is not so great

18 March 2014 Editorial Desk

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was on a short visit to Dhaka on March 16 laid emphasis on 'political and social stability' in Bangladesh without giving due importance to democratic governance.In comments to reporters on the sideline of a convocation ceremony at the University of Information Technology and Science (UITS) in the city where he was the guest speaker, Dr Mahathir projected himself as not finding anything wrong in the election victory swept in a voterless election. He later, though, said that election alone is not democracy. By endorsing the election of 5th January he made himself  vulnerable to a highly controversial and sensitive issue for Bangladesh people. Dr Mahathir Mohamad is held in high esteem in Bangladesh as a great personality for his able leadership to give peace and prosperity to Malaysia. He remained in power for 22 years. Dr Mahathir is considered a true friend of Bangladesh and his visit to Bangladesh is welcome every time. We understand it was difficult for him to discuss the internal politics of Bangladesh and it would have been the best if he could avoid the subject altogether. Dr. Mahathir spoke against the unwelcome consequences of the agitational street politics. Those who come to power this way also goes that way. This is very much true and that is why those who are engaged in agitational politics know little about democracy or running a government. This is the crisis many of our political leaders are facing and failing. But what is also true is that the government should not be intolerant to the opposition leaving no choice for it but to go for agitational politics. Only in a working democracy street politics becomes redundant. Bangladesh is not Malaysia and it needs to be reminded that our people fought the liberation war for democracy. Our people have too much bitter experience from undemocratic or half democratic authoritarianism. For democratic legitimacy of the government, fresh election in Bangladesh is unavoidable. A government that lacks democratic legitimacy is a threat to itself. Dr Mahathir would have done a friendly act to the government if he cautioned our government about this aspect.   

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