What Malaysia Can Teach America’s Aging Leadership – The Atlantic


TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s rise to lead the country for the second time at 93 is a lesson for American politicians vying to be president, wrote journalist Jonah Blank in an opinion piece in US publication The Atlantic.

The author of Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God and Mullahs on the Mainframe said the three top Democrats aged over 70 who are competing for a chance to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, should learn from Dr Mahathir.

The three Democrats are Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, who are aged 76, 70, and 78 respectively. Trump is 73 years old.

Blank advised the Democratic challengers to “follow an incumbent whose failures would make anyone look good”.

The sovereign wealth fund’s scandal that brought Dr Mahathir out from retirement to lead the country to a historic election in 2018 had made him a “hero to voters” and to those who were not even born when he was first in office, wrote Blank.

And he also noted that Dr Mahathir has not shown any signs of stepping down despite having former arch-nemesis PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim waiting in line.

Blank pointed out that even a reputed replacement to Anwar was accused of sodomy.

“When asked why they support Dr Mahathir so strongly, many Malaysians I asked responded with a question of their own: Who else is there?”

Blank added that Democrats had to focus on core issues.

Despite Dr Mahathir’s age, Blank said issues confronting Malaysia “deserve a steady hand at the wheel”, including dealing with 1MDB, China, and the country’s long-term challenges.

“Perhaps the greatest challenge for Mahathir 2.0 is how to fulfil the promises made by Mahathir 1.0.

“Malaysians are divided about the economy, the rise of China, Vision 2020, and everything else. These questions seem more important than how many years their prime minister has been on the planet,” he wrote in his OpEd.

Blank also said Democrats could take a pointer from Dr Mahathir’s self-discipline when it comes to his health, adding that the premier has kept his mind as “sharp as ever”, is “constantly trying to learn new things”, watches his food and also exercises regularly.

However, he noted that the Democrats perhaps do not need help in this area.

“Joe Biden has challenged Donald Trump to a push-up contest, and it’s hard to imagine him losing. In a viral video from March, Elizabeth Warren out-sprinted a reporter much her junior while dashing for a train at New York Penn Station – then gave an interview about economic policy without so much as a pause to catch her breath, and Bernie Sanders has essentially invented an Olympic sport: aerobic arm-waving,” he said.

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