Mukhriz Mahathir has to step out of his father’s shadow



COMMENT It has been said that “A son may outgrow a father’s lap, but never his heart.” Indeed, a father’s love is eternal.

For most of us growing up, dad would ensure that we have enough to keep us going, that we do well in our studies and have a decent circle of friends.

Later, in adulthood, he would let us roam free to choose our own career path and lead our lives as we think fit.

Surely, your dad did not choose a wife or husband for you, did he? Well, mine didn’t.

That’s that way it is for most ordinary families.

However, for the family of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, when dad has been the prime minister, things will surely take on a different dimension. There is the family name, legacy and honour to uphold.

Politically, that burden of the Mahathir family falls on the shoulders of Mukhriz, the third child of Mahathir and Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali.

Mukhriz is probably considered the scion of the family as he is the only Mahathir child to be active in politics and a well-known public figure.

I believe it is not wrong to assume that Mahathir paved the way for Mukhriz’s entry into the political arena because the father probably knows which of his children has what it takes to be in the rough and tumble of politics.

Neither is it way off to suggest that the Mahathir name has helped Mukhriz’s ascension up the political ladder.

Following his maiden electoral outing in the 2008 general election, Mukhriz was appointed by then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as a deputy minister.

In 2013, he became the menteri besar of Kedah, after BN reclaimed the state from PAS. This time, his appointment was made by then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.

It is true when Mahathir had said he had never encouraged any of his children to be in politics when he was prime minister (from 1981-2003). Only after he left office, did Mukhriz contest for a parliamentary seat.

It is unfortunate, however, that Mukhriz has never been able to step out of his father’s shadow ever since. At least, that is the general public consensus.

It isn’t Mukhriz’s fault. When your father is such a dominant political figure, that’s a mountain to climb.

Still, a son should not be dependent on his family name, nor his father’s protective nature to ascend the political ladder or to move on generally in life.

Speculation about Mahathir’s ambition for Mukhriz

At 55 today and having been in active politics for more than a decade, Mukhriz has to step out of his father’s shadow and fight his own political battles. Dad will not be around forever.

When we hear speculation about Mahathir’s ambition for Mukhriz to be prime minister one day, some of us would shake our heads, either in disagreement or disbelief.

Why must a father set such a lofty goal for his son? Is his son up to the job and capable enough to be prime minister? Heck, what’s the big deal about being prime minister anyway?

Pak Lah did not have a father to push him up to be prime minister. Neither did Muhyiddin Yassin or Najib. All came up through their own steam and their own merit.

(Aaha, even becoming PM via the backdoor is also getting the coveted job via your own steam.)

No previous prime minister, too, has ever attempted to fight for his son to be PM as Mahathir is perceived to be doing. Maybe, it’s because they did not live long enough.

But Pak Lah (above) is still around. I’m not sure whether any of his children are active in politics.

Abdul Razak Hussein passed on when Najib was only 22. Yet, Najib rose to become PM.

Neither did we ever hear of Hussein Onn attempting to push his son, Hishammuddin Hussein, up the political ladder. And Hishammuddin, too, isn’t doing too badly in his political career today.

As for our revered “Bapa Malaysia”, none of Tunku Abdul Rahman’s children are ever known to have a political career.

It’s time for Mukhriz to be his own man, fight his political battles his own way and prove himself as a national leader.

Mukhriz has to dismantle the “Daddy’s boy” image, the sooner the better. It isn’t helping his political career nor stature as a scion of the Mahathir family.

Daddy must also realise that it is not in his son’s interest to be involved in the child’s political affairs all the way. Time for dad to step back. It’s good enough to keep a father’s love in your heart.

I say forget Kedah, Mukhriz. Move up and take on Putrajaya. May the force be with you.


FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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