Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dr Mahathir pours scorn on Lee Kuan Yew’s oratory skills

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed has poured scorn on the oratory skills of Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in a documentary – “Mahathir” shown on the Starhub History Channel last Sunday at 8pm.

The two-part documentary relates the tumultuous political career of Dr Mahathir who lost his parliamentary seat in the 1969 election and was sacked from his party UMNO before making a stunning comeback as Education Minister in 1974.

Dr Mahathir was to become Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister in 1981. He is credited with modernizing Malaysia which was largely an agricultural country back then.

The elder statesman was no fan of Lee and had several heated arguments with him in the Dewan Rakyat when Singapore was part of Malaysia in the period 1963 – 65.

In the documentary, Dr Mahathir criticized Lee for his propensity to give long speeches. He claimed that Lee became flustered after he interjected his speech repeatedly with sharp questions which he could not answer.

Both parties almost come to blows with each other in a heated exchange on 25 September 1964 when Dr Mahathir (then MP for Alor Star) made the following stinging remark towards Lee in the Dewan Rakyat:

“They (Singaporean Chinese) have never known Malay rule and cannot bear the idea that the people they have so long kept under their heels should now be in a position to rule them.”

Lee Kuan Yew shot back:

“Of course there are Chinese millionaires in big cars and big houses. Is it the answer to make a few Malay millionaires with big cars and big houses? … If we delude people into believing that they are poor because there are no Malay rights or because opposition members oppose Malay rights, where are we going to end up?”

Relationships between Singapore and Malaysia were prickly during Mahathir’s reign as Prime Minister and were frequently strained over unresolved bilateral issues like the sale of water to Singapore from the southern state of Johor.

Lee did not visit Dr Mahathir during his recent visit to Malaysia in June which drew a sarcastic remark from the latter than he was not a important figure.

True to his combative nature, Dr Mahathir wrote an acerbic article on his blog chedet lampooning Lee as a “little emperor”:

“During Lee Kuan Yew’s triumphant visit to Malaysia he made it known to the Malaysian supplicants that Singapore regards the lands within 6000 miles radius of Singapore as its hinterland. This includes Beijing and Tokyo and of course Malaysia……..All those who met the great man from the little country were lectured on how Malaysia should be run. We should not have anymore problems now. We have been told the direction to take……I have a lot more to say about this little Emperor but I will reserve it for later.”

Surprisingly, the litigious Lee has never sued Dr Mahathir for defamation in court despite the latter’s obvious contempt for him.

In fact, Lee was forced to issue a rather humiliating public apology to the Malaysian government led by Dr Mahathir in 1997 when he made disparaging remarks about Johor being an unsafe place “notorious for shootings, robberies and car-jacking” in an affidavit filed against WP candidate Tang Liang Hong for defamation.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sabah saved BN: Mahathir said

Kota Kinabalu: Barisan Nasional (BN) is lucky Sabah delivered in the worst-ever electoral performance by the ruling coalition last year.

BN may no longer be ruling the country if not for its performance in Sabah during the 2008 General Elections, said former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohammad.

"Presently BN is still in power at the central level. But if in Sabah BN did not get votes during the 2008 General Elections will it still be in power todayÉ we were lucky, just lucky," he said.

"If previously it was the peninsula which supported Sabah, now Sabah supports the peninsula É kalau lah ada kesedaran (only if there is conscience)," he added.

Towards this end he said Umno, the backbone of BN, needs to change if it does not want to meet the same fate of those political parties in other countries during the pre-independence era which contributed to their respective country's independence but now no longer exist.

Many of these political parties which fought for their independence no longer exist like the Masyumi Party in Indonesia, the Muslim League in Pakistan as well as the earlier political parties in Africa and so on. He said these parties, which had support from their people during the pre-independence era, could not continue because they lost the people's support.

"We need to ask ourselves why freedom fighters were rejected by the citizens of a country which they successfully freed from colonialists. If we do not know then we may end up following their footsteps and we will become a party that is no longer relevant and will be rejected by the rakyat," he said during a programme called "Wacana Ilmu: Generation of Post Independence" held at Pacific Sutera Hotel, Saturday.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman opened the programme organised jointly by the Puteri, Pemuda and Wanita Umno Sabah movements. Other Umno Sabah senior leaders were also present. Mahathir, who was also former President of Umno, said based on his own observation those political parties which fought for and gained independence for their country easily forgot the reasons for their success.

"They were successful because of their promises to free their country from the colonialists, so that they can govern their country themselves and when this happened the people believed they can take care of their own people's interests, those who gave their full trust and support to their party," he said.

But after gaining independence for their country, they forgot that they are fighting for their people and not for their own interest.

"They changed É they wanted to gain power for themselves, fulfil their self-interest and to get the highest posts for themselves, forgetting their promises to the people that the Government they form would be more fair and considerate to the people than the colonialists," he said.

"When the people realised the party no longer fought for them, for the people, then they felt frustrated and their support for the party slowly faded. In the end the party became weaker and weaker and then vanished," he said.

"That's why today we are no longer talking about the Masyumi Party, the Muslim League and others which existed during the pre-independence eraÉto the extent that now no one knows about their existence or people have forgotten about them."

Mahathir said similarly Umno also fought for the country's independence and this led to the formation of Malaysia. Mahathir said, however, the post-independence leaders of Umno, those who were born after Merdeka, seem to no longer remember about the party's struggles to achieve independence.

"They seem to believe that they were born in a country which already achieved independence, and thus the struggles for independence no longer have any meaning for them É to them Malaysia has already achieved independence and thus what is the need to appreciate the struggles for independence and those struggles of the founding fathers of Umno," he said.

"They also see many opportunities to improve their living conditions.

There are many young leaders of this party who also think their participation will guarantee their positions and income. Their struggles are no longer for the race, religion and nation but for getting a post, power which can bring them richness É then we have what is now called 'money politics'," he said.

He said they aim to get the highest position in the government, to become a Cabinet Minister or even Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister, because the higher they get the more money they will have.

"That is all their struggle is. And to achieve their struggles, they think if they can give money to certain people concerned they will get support and become the head of various levels available É and then they want to remain there, their whole life, and unfortunately our party system is like that where they can use money to retain their post.

"This is happening very glaringly in the peninsula, even the party branch-level chief," he said.

Mahathir also said that educated Malays who wanted to join Umno also feel it is hard to do so now because of the presence of party branch chiefs who wanted to retain their post and who feel the presence of these educated Malays as members of their branch will be a threat to them.

"Because the party constitution states that those wanting to become Umno members must join through the branch, the branch chiefs do not permit those who have qualification higher than him to join their branch.

"Besides, they do not want too many members in their respective branches because more money would be needed to retain their post," he said.

This is unlike PAS which welcomes all, educated or not, and any of those joining the party will get a chance to contest, hold a position and so on, he said, adding many educated Malays had approached him and told him they wanted to join the party but could not due to this problem.

"The people are watching this. They are not happy with the turmoil happening in Umno and they cannot voice it out because there are efforts to shut up those want to criticise, including myself," he said.

He said it is easy and there are various means for anyone to control Umno, but "we must not forget there is an election É people as the voters see what is happening in Umno and will exercise their voting power when the time comes," he said, adding these signs were also seen in the previous two general elections.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Religious lectures with a political motive cannot be trusted: Dr M

KOTA KINABALU, Nov 14 (Bernama) -- Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad suggested that politicians get commissioned as religious preachers if they want to conduct "ceramah" (talks) on Islam so as to avert disunity and confusion among Muslims in the country.

"I notice that many politicians conduct religious lectures without having been commissioned to do so. Religious lectures with a political motive cannot be trusted.

"The commissioning is to ensure that the lectures adhere to the true Islamic teachings propagated by Prophet Muhammad," he told reporters after opening the annual general meeting of the United Sabah Islamic Association (USIA), here on Saturday.

Dr Mahathir, who is president of the Malaysian Muslim Welfare Organisation (Perkim), said it was feared that the differences of opinion among certain Muslim personalities would be misinterpreted by Muslims and lead to disunity and factions.

He also said that the commissioning of the religious preachers would also ensure that true Islamic teachings were disseminated in all the states.

"We find that some people can preach, while some cannot. Some states can accept a certain preacher, while others cannot," he said.

He said differences of opinion among Muslims could occur but this should not necessarily lead to enmity.

He also said that Muslims should not neglect other knowledge in their quest for religious excellence.

"We should not confine ourselves to preaching only. If we want to tell others about the distinction of Islam, but are seen as poor, weak and dependent, then how can we convince them about Islam?" he asked.