For the whole of last week, I read the book by Tom Plate – “Conversation with Mahathir Mohamad – Dr M: Operation Malaysia”.
I like this book for a special reason – because after a major theme has been discussed, the author would insert a summary-like comment titled “A Mahathir Political Point”. This point would in as few words as possible, summarized the main topic of discussions in a chapter.
Some chapters have more than one of these. Some have none.
As they are summary-like comments, I thought it would be worthwhile to blog it and let them serve as a record of the main gist of this book. Here we go:
– If only Americans would listen more to the people who live in a region they are about to invade, they might think twice about it, and win more friends than if they had blundered on ahead.
– Speech was given to me not so much as to disguise my thoughts but to permit me to say exactly what I think.
– Serious bad will start to pile up in your government when after a Cabinet meeting, nothing happens. Nothing happening is not progress. Sometimes you just have to do it yourself.
– Muslim fundamentalism must let me be moderate. Having accepted that, my dealings with the non-Muslims become very easy.
– Starve people long enough and instead of dying they become dangerous. Governing them rationally can serve to remove the conditions under which irrational governance becomes truly dangerous.
– The governance of a polity that has a predominant religious core cannot safely proceed on purely secular grounds.
– The way to permit extremists to appear reasonable is for the non-extremists to give up too much ground by reverting to secular standards of reason.
– Do unto others rhetorically, as in fact they do unto you, if they do it in public… or in a way that can become known to the public, or you will lose face.
– Think first of the rights and security of the group before the rights of the individual.
– Never embarrass the police publicly. Make your points in private and hope professional pride serves as the corrective.
– The people you sometimes most have to trust are the ones you most fear will turn on you.
– In a multiracial country the citizen’s right for total free expression does not exist – if you want a peaceful community.
– There’s nothing like an ounce of harsh prevention, because it’s a lot better than a lot of so-called liberal cure.
– Figuring out how something works is the easy part; understanding why anything works the way it does may be beyond human understanding. Faith can help get you over it. And it’s ultimately humbling.
– Cultural restraints against serious deviation become less effective when the culture itself is changing.
– Serious policy change takes a lot of preparation, good timing and widespread public support. Sometimes only a measure of authoritarianism can foster the centrality of leadership needed to get things done.
– A developing nation must always take its meds, whether the patients (its people) want to or not.
– Democracy is not easily exportable, and rather than being the answer to a country’s problem, may only add to the problem itself.