1433, general election year? During an interview with a TV station this week, Dr Mahathir was asked how he thought Najib Razak has fared as Prime Minister of Malaysia.
"Better than the previous one," the Tun reportedly replied.
That's the part of the interview you'd not get to watch when they air the interview. When the editor told me about the censored bit last night, I laughed my head off. No disrespect to Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, really, I don't think much of him these days but I still think he was one of our best Foreign Ministers, even though many said King Ghaz was the one. I covered Abdullah a lot when he was FM: in Singapore, Manila Jakarta, Bangkok, Vienna, Washington, New York, and a few other places. He was sure and firm on so many issues, from Myanmar to the former Yugoslavia. That he had Mahathir as boss was one of the reasons Abdullah was always on his toes.
Then he became Prime Minister, and the rest, you know. Looking back, I'm sure it was not Abdullah who wanted to fight Dr Mahathir. It was some people around him took advantage of him. It got to their heads, the little power they had.
Now Najib is PM. Two and a half years on, he's due to steer the nation into the 13th General Election. The last GE, called amid great discontent for Abdullah's leadership, was the worst for the coalition that Najib now heads. Will Najib do better than Abdullah? Will any of the states that fell into Pakatan Rakyat's hands return to BN's fold?
The people will decide. My only hope is that Najib be judged for his strengths instead of his foes' weaknesses, and for the transformation or "hijrah" that he's been trying to get all of us to embrace. There's great likelihood that he will call for the 13th GE during the Hijrah year 1433, which starts tomorrow. If that's so, this new year will be a very meaningful one.
Selamat ber-Hijrah. Let us do everything better this year.
The PM's Maal Hijrah message, h e r e.