Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mahathir has refuted the charges of corruption and squandering

Former PM Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has refuted the charges of corruption leveled against him during his 22 year long tenure as a Prime Minister adding that he would welcome any enquiry for investigating his role in burning 40.9 billion Singapore dollars on grandiose projects.

Expressing a clear distrust over government machinery and its officials, Dr. Mahathir said that people of impeccable reputation should be incorporated in the enquiry commission.

Asking for widening the scope of commission, Dr. Mahathir said that role of other PMs including former PM Tun Abdullah Badawi should also be investigated. He said that the commission should be allowed to access the official record between the period of 1981 and 2009 for making the enquiry successful.

Dr. Mahathir wrote in his blog, "It should also include how much money was lost due to the cancellation of the crooked bridge and the Johor Baru- Padang Besar railway project."

Challenging Barry Wain, the author of the book Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times' Dr. Mahathir asked him to provided proofs to substantiate the charges he leveled against him.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dr Mahathir challenges former WSJ editor to criticize Singapore leaders

Malaysian former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had challenged the former Managing Editor of the Asian Wall Street Journal, Barry Wain to criticize Singapore leaders.

Wain, recently released his book “Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times,” in which he accuses Dr Mahathir of wasting RM100 billion in public funds during his tenure as Malaysian Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003.

In a posting on his blog chedet yesterday, Dr Mahathir made a point for point defence against the accusations leveled against him and said he welcomed opposition leader Lim Kit Siang’s call for the Malaysian government to set up a royal commission to probe whether he “burned” RM100 billion.

True to his combative style, Dr Mahathir poured scorn on Wain for criticizing him only and challenged him to take on the leaders of Singapore, where he now resides.

“Barry Wain was formerly with the Asian Wall Street Journal and Asia Week. Presently he is with the Singapore think tank, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. He knows that if he writes anything against Singapore leaders he would be dragged to the courts, sued and forced to pay huge indemnity. His colleagues have all been found guilty of defamation when they wrote something that was not approved by Singapore leaders.” Dr Mahathir wrote.

He suggested that journalists dare to do so as the Malaysian courts are “lenient” with them:

“It is safe for journalists to impute all kinds of misbehaviour by Malaysian leaders. There have been many cases where the courts have found in favour of the journalists,” he added.

Dr Mahathir was referring to a recent court case involving WSJ’s sister publication – Far Eastern Economic Review which was sued for defamation by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The Singapore High Court had ordered the Review Publishing Company, publisher of the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), and editor Hugo Restall to pay 200,000 dollars in damages and 30,000 dollars in legal costs to Premier Lee Hsien Loong.

His father, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, will get 150,000 dollars in damages and 25,000 dollars in legal costs.

The penalties were set after the Court of Appeal last month upheld a 2008 decision finding the defendants guilty of defaming the Lees in a 2006 article based on an interview with Chee Soon Juan, an opposition party leader.

The article at the heart of the case — entitled “Singapore’s ‘Martyr’, Chee Soon Juan” — described the opposition Singapore Democratic Party secretary general’s battle against the ruling People’s Action Party and its leaders.

Leaders from the Singapore’s ruling party have won numerous defamation suits against their political opponents back home and foreign publications such as The Economist, Time, Bloomberg, AsiaWeek and the International Herald Tribune.

Despite similar leadership style between him and Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, Dr Mahathir seldom sued those who opposed him for defamation.

The litigious nature of Singapore’s leaders have attracted international criticisms and opprobrium, especially from human rights organizations.

Singapore’s Law Minister Shanmugam defended its harsh defamatory laws lately to an American audience on the grounds that it is important to safeguard the reputation of its leaders from “scurrilous and baseless” accusations.

As one Malaysiakini reader puts it succinctly:

“And about Singapore, I bet my life, Barry Wain will never, never write anything about their ” Incorruptible Leaders ” Least he wants to be bankrupt. Just so you know, a very famous opposition leader in Singapore, spent donkey years getting out of bankruptcy, and died few months later.”

It will be interesting to see if Wain, Restall, or any other WSJ editor will write a fair, accurate and objective assessment of MM Lee when he passes on finally.

China’s Mao was a living god when he was still alive. Today, he is persona non grata in China and denounced as a mass-murderer outside China.

Lee will probably suffer a similar fate as Mao with few Singaporeans being remotely aware of his contributions or even existence long after his PAP is booted out of office.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Forget Your Root Country - We Are Malaysians - Mahathir

PENANG, Dec 23 (Bernama) -- Everyone in Malaysia have to set a side their origin country and start calling themselves Malaysians for the success of the 1Malaysia concept, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

The former prime minister said they had to put aside their origin country such as India or China and start calling themselves Malaysians.

"They must put aside their origin country and call themselves Malaysians for 1Malaysia to be successful," he said during an appreciation dinner with the Association of Muslim Kadayanallur here Wednesday.

Tun Mahathir called on the people to help realise the government's aspiration of strengthening racial unity and harmony in line with the 1Malaysia concept.

He said people in Thailand and Indonesia called themselves Thais and Indonesians respectively but this did not happen here.

To a claim that the Indian Muslims in the country had been neglected, he said they should choose to either become a Muslim or an Indian.

"The country is very liberal and I think they (Indian Muslims) will be accepted by all if they can pick either to become a Muslim or Indian.".

Tun Mahathir said there was no difference between the various races as everyone were Malaysians.

"The federal constitution also defined a Muslim very clearly. If they want to become a Muslim then just follow the constitution."

He said if Indian Muslims in the country still called themselves as such, others might think that they still had links to the origin country.

"The problem of Indian Muslims will be resolved if they can decide and choose to become either a Muslim or an Indian," he added.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy With Better Life Of Langkawi Folk

LANGKAWI, Dec 20 (Bernama) -- Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has expressed happiness over the change for the better in the livelihood of the people of Langkawi following the development which has come to the legendary island.

He said he noticed that many wooden dwellings lacking basic facilities had transformed into concrete houses over the years, and attributed the development partly to a cement factory established in Teluk Ewa, Ayer Hangat.

This was part of the intensive development which Langkawi had undergone and was being felt by the islanders, he said at a dinner here Saturday night to raise funds for the Langkawi branch of the National Association for the Prevention of Drug Abuse (Pemadam Langkawi). Also present was Dr Mahathir's wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali.

Dr Mahathir received cheques amounting to RM65,000 from various bodies for Pemadam Langkawi.

The former prime minister said there was still room to further develop Langkawi, in terms of providing employment opportunities and setting up business such as barter trade at the Teluk Ewa port.

He also advised parents and teachers to create awareness in children on the dangers of taking drugs.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mahathir Book Too Hot for Malaysian Custom

Malaysian customs authorities have been holding up delivery of 800 copies of an authoritative new biography of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for the past three weeks at the Port Klang customs office.

The book, "Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times," written by former Asian Wall Street Journal Managing Editor Barry Wain, is a warts-and-all, critical but fair account of Mahathir's 22 years in power. It is certain to become an essential study for scholars seeking to understand the onetime premier's reign and its consequences. But maybe not in Malaysia itself unless the locals buy through Barns & Noble (available Jan. 10) or Amazon (Jan. 5) for US$60.75.

Reports of the book have created considerable stir in Malaysia after the popular Malaysiakini news website ran reports of it along with a review first published in Asia Sentinel.

The book will probably turn up on bookshelves eventually, said one Malaysian source. "There are lots of books on the shelves that are critical of Dr Mahathir. It might be some of his allies that stopped it. But everybody knows about it, it's just they're waiting for a hard copy."

Foreign published books air-freighted into Malaysia often go through customs without being checked, or with only a cursory check at the airport. Books sent by ship or by land from Singapore are often stopped for inspection, however, which can mean customs officers spending weeks reading the material. Sometimes they just sit on the book, leaving the publisher with little option but to withdraw it or be faced with being hit with storage charges, leaving the book effectively banned without the government having to face criticism for formally banning it.

The reform organization Aliran said the holdup of the books " is nothing short of crude and reckless censorship, although indirect, the effect is the same. It very undemocratically denies Malaysians reading material that should be made freely available to all and sundry. This book is of particular interest to citizens who are appalled by the disclosure that under Mahathir RM100 billion could
have been squandered. They have been waiting anxiously to find out how this atrocity involving a mammoth, mind-boggling amount could have happened without anybody commenting on this extravagance."
The book tells the story of an essentially pragmatic man who managed the always-fraught balance between the country's races, particularly the Malays and Chinese, relatively well although the New Economic Policy which he inherited from his predecessor, an affirmative action program for the majority race was deeply flawed, creating an entitlement mentality among Malays that largely failed to uplift them economically despite all efforts. Nonetheless, Mahathir, Wain wrote, "wasted no time in transforming Malaysia in line with his vision of a modern, industrialized nation, setting the goal of becoming fully developed by 2020."

Rubber, palm oil and tin, the mainstays of the economy, Wain wrote, gave way to the production of manufactured goods and embraced a high-tech future, making Malaysia one of the developing world's most successful countries. Mahathir, he said, "relentlessly badgered, berated and browbeat Malaysians, especially Malays, to shape up and convert his dreams into reality. If necessary, he would crucify opponents, sacrifice allies and tolerate monumental institutional and social abuses to advance his project."

Unfortunately that also produced some excesses that the country could take decades to correct. By Wain's reckoning, the country wasted as much as RM100 billion (US$40 billion at exchange rates at the time) on grandiose projects such as the Perwaja steel plant, which lost an estimated US$800 million and whose executive director, Eric Chia, was charged with embezzling large amounts of money. Chia, however, was freed by a Malaysian judiciary system that Mahathir had basically gutted and rebuilt to serve the interests of the state.

Wain writes about Mahathir's relationship with Daim Zainuddin, the onetime finance minister who dismissed concerns about the commingling of his public and private interests, among a wide range of cronies who ultimately became a rentier class that did huge damage to the country's coffers.

He could be stridently anti-western, breaking with the UK dramatically by establishing a "Buy British Last" program that only ended when Margaret Thatcher, then the iron prime minister of Britain, made a trip to meet with Mahathir himself. Nonetheless, Wain writes, Mahathir's anti-west rhetoric of the 1980s and 1990s, though reminiscent of the first generation of developing world leaders feeling their way out from under the yoke of colonialism, "was accompanied by a diametrically opposite view of economics. Although a strident nationalist, he was pragmatic and favored the market system that brought prosperity to the industrialized nations."

Like Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore and Indonesia's Suharto, "Dr Mahathir integrated his country deeply with the Western economies and achieved an enviable development record."

Wain wrote that during a visit to Washington DC in which Mahathir met President Ronald Reagan, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and others, he secretly launched an innocuous sounding Bilateral Training and Consultation Treaty, which Wain described as a series of working groups for exercises, intelligence sharing, logistical support and general security issues. In the meantime, Mahathir continued display a public antipathy on general principles at the Americans while his jungle was crawling with US troops quietly training for jungle warfare.

(On Dec. 16, Mahathir slammed what he described as Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's change in Malaysia's foreign policy to back the United States in a recent flap over an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution criticising Iran for its nuclear program.)

That's all good. But Wain's exhaustive reprise of the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance scandal of the early 1980s, for instance, in which as much as US$1 billion disappeared from the Hong Kong arm of the government-owned Bank Bumiputra Malaysia, ill-starred forays into currency manipulation by Bank Negara, the country's central bank, which cost billions, the attempt directed by Mahathir to attempt to corner the tin market in the early 1980s, and other huge missteps apparently didn't set will with the government's current leaders.

Wain's book remains on the loading docks, awaiting a decision to deliver it. But for readers who buy Kindle or another electronic reader, it's easy to get.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dr M criticises Najib’s ‘pro-US’ policy

By G. Manimaran and Leslie Lau

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has expressed his disappointment at what he described as a change in Malaysia’s foreign policy to back the United States, following a recent flap over how the country voted against an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution criticising Iran for its nuclear programme.

The Foreign Ministry was forced to recall the country's envoy to the United Nations in Vienna after he voted against an IAEA resolution criticising Iran for ignoring UN Security Council and nuclear watchdog demands by continuing to build its enrichment programme.

It is understood that Wisma Putra and the administration are concerned over international public perception after Malaysia, along with Venezuela and Cuba, voted against the IAEA resolution.

But Dr Mahathir, known for his strident views about Western powers, criticised Datuk Seri Najib Razak's administration today for changing the country's foreign policy.

"We have changed. Previously we defended countries against oppression by the United States. Now we are backing the US in oppressing Iran," he said in a posting on his blog today.

Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman said this week that a decision will soon be made on whether action will be taken against the veteran envoy, Datuk Mohd Arshad M. Hussain.

Dr Mahathir is, however, unhappy that the envoy was recalled.

"Now our envoy is recalled and is being questioned for not backing America. Is this our new policy?" asked the former PM.

By not consulting with Wisma Putra before going ahead with the vote, the envoy had put Malaysia's top diplomat Anifah in a difficult position.

Since his appointment Anifah has gained a reputation as the hardest-working Cabinet member, making regular trips round the world to put forward the country's position on various issues and establishing Najib's credentials as a reformist committed to international trade in Washington.

But the IAEA vote threatens to put Malaysia in the same category as Venezuela and Cuba, two countries well known to be at odds with Washington.

The IAEA resolution criticises Iran for defying a UN Security Council ban on uranium enrichment — the source of both nuclear fuel and the fissile core of warheads.

It also censured Iran for secretly building a uranium enrichment facility; and noted that it could not be confirmed that Teheran's nuclear programme was exclusively geared towards peaceful uses, and expressed "serious concern" that Iranian stonewalling of an IAEA probe means "the possibility of military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme" cannot be excluded.

In criticising Najib's foreign policy, Dr Mahathir is sending a strong signal to the prime minister that he wants the country to maintain his policies in dealing with the US.

The former PM suggested in his remarks, however, that Barack Obama had been disappointing because the US president had not changed his country's foreign policy, and that Malaysia should not back Washington.

"Far from making changes, he is adding more troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Guantanamo detention camp also remains open," said Dr Mahathir.

He added that it was the US and Israel which continue to use nuclear weapons.

"They are using depleted uranium from nuclear products. We allow it. Officially we are not protesting.

"India has nuclear weapons. So does Pakistan, Why not Iran?" he said.

Dr Mahathir's comments could put Najib in a spot, especially among the more conservative front in Umno.

The Malaysian Insider understands that missteps such as the IAEA vote and the vocal stand of some Malaysian leaders like Dr Mahathir against the US have not helped in the Najib administration's courtship of Obama.

When Obama expressed interest earlier this year to make an official visit to Indonesia, government officials here had started lobbying Washington for the US president to make a brief stopover here to meet with the PM.

Obama has since postponed his visit to Indonesia.

US officials are understood to be perplexed by Malaysia's position on issues such as the recent IAEA vote.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Don’t question bumiputra quotas in public universities - says Dr M

Don’t dispute bumiputra quotas in public universities, says Dr M

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today the opportunity given to more bumiputeras to enter public universities should not be disputed as a racist act which prioritises one race at the expense of the others.

The former prime minister said the move was to ensure a balanced racial development so that the bumiputeras were not left behind in the mainstream education, which could have negative repercussions.

He said that at the private institutions of higher learning, which now numbered nearly the same as the public institutions of higher learning, the bumiputera enrolment was very small, only in the region of 10 per cent, while the rest was made up of the other races because many bumiputeras could not afford the fees.

“If we conduct a census of the number of students in the government and private universities, there are more non-bumiputera students. That’s why we give attention and more places to bumiputeras,” he said in his keynote address, entitled “UUM 25 Years Expectation vs Reality”, at the Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) Alumni Convention 2009 here.

“So we should not feel guilty (just) because we have places for the bumiputeras. We have a right to attain a position that is on par in this country. We want reasonable rights,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the affirmative policy under the New Economic Policy to bring the bumiputeras into the country’s mainstream development in various fields, including education, was not something extreme because although bumiputeras made up about 60 per cent of the population, the set quota was only 30 per cent.

“This is not racism...we only ask for half of what we should be demanding. This shows that we are not fact to get 30 per cent is not easy,” he said.

He said that if there was no balance, those left behind would feel hatred and jealousy and might act irrationally, and this was what the country wanted to avoid.

He added that the extra attention and opportunities given to the bumiputeras did not mean that the other races were sidelined.

He also said that it was important for the bumiputeras to have the knowledge in running a business because many of them did not use the money as capital or to invest but to shop.
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“We must change the bumiputera mindset. The money will bring returns when invested and this can enhance their wealth. Normally they spend when they have money...often more than the money available and this causes problems.”

On the UUM, Dr Mahathir said the aspiration of its establishment had been achieved as was evident from the success in producing bumiputera graduates as well of graduates of other races in management but it was still not enough.

“The UUM’s future still hinges on efforts in capacity building, especially for the bumiputeras, in business,” he said.

He said students in management finance and accounting must be taught to have the right mindset, strong resilience as well as the intricacies to be successful in business and other fields.

Dr Mahathir also hoped that one day there would be a university town in Sintok, where the UUM is located, like the university towns in Cambridge and Oxford. — Bernama

Monday, December 7, 2009

Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times

Book Review: Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times
Tag it:Written by John Berthelsen
Friday, 04 December 2009
by Barry Wain. Palgrave Macmillan, 363pp. Available through Amazon, US$60.75. Available for Pre-order, to be released Jan 5.

In 1984 or 1985, when I was an Asian Wall Street Journal correspondent in Malaysia, an acquaintance called me and said he had seen a US Army 2-1/2 ton truck, known as a "deuce-and-a-half," filled with US military personnel in jungle gear on a back road outside of Kuala Lumpur.

Since Malaysia and the United States were hardly close friends at that point, I immediately went to the US Embassy in KL and asked what the US soldiers were doing there. I received blank stares. Similar requests to the Malaysian Ministry of Defense brought the same response. After a few days of chasing the story, I concluded that my acquaintance must have been seeing things and dropped it.

It turns out he wasn’t seeing things after all. In a new book, "Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times," launched Dec. 4 in Asia, former Asian Wall Street Journal editor Barry Wain solved the mystery. In 1984, during a visit to Washington DC in which Mahathir met President Ronald Reagan, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and others, he secretly launched an innocuous sounding Bilateral Training and Consultation Treaty, which Wain described as a series of working groups for exercises, intelligence sharing, logistical support and general security issues. In the meantime, Mahathir continued display a public antipathy on general principles at the Americans while his jungle was crawling with US troops quietly training for jungle warfare.

That ability to work both sides of the street was a Mahathir characteristic. In his foreword, Wain, in what is hoped to be a definitive history of the former prime minister’s life and career, writes that "while [Mahathir] has been a public figure in Malaysia for half a century and well known abroad for almost as long, he has presented himself as a bundle of contradictions: a Malay champion who was the Malays’ fiercest critic and an ally of Chinese-Malaysian businessmen; a tireless campaigner against Western economic domination who assiduously courted American and European capitalists; a blunt, combative individual who extolled the virtues of consensual Asian values."

Wain was granted access to the former premier for a series of exhaustive interviews. It may well be the most definitive picture painted of Mahathir to date, and certainly is even-handed. Wain, now a writer in residence at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, is by no means a Mahathir sycophant. Advance publicity for the book has dwelt on an assertion by Wain that Mahathir may well have wasted or burned up as much as RM100 billion (US$40 billion at earlier exchange rates when the projects were active) on grandiose projects and the corruption that that the projects engendered as he sought to turn Malaysia into an industrialized state. Although some in Malaysia have said the figure is too high, it seems about accurate, considering such ill-advised projects as a national car, the Proton, which still continues to bleed money and cost vastly more in opportunity costs for Malaysian citizens forced to buy any other make at huge markups behind tariff walls. In addition, while Thailand in particular became a regional center for car manufacture and for spares, Malaysia, handicapped by its national car policy, was left out.

Almost at the start of the book, Wain encapsulates the former premier so well that it bears repeating here: Mahathir, he writes, "had an all-consuming desire to turn Malaysia into a modern, industrialized nation commanding worldwide respect. Dr Mahathir’s decision to direct the ruling party into business in a major way while the government practiced affirmative action, changed the nature of the party and accelerated the spread of corruption. One manifestation was the eruption of successive financial scandals, massive by any standards, which nevertheless left Dr Mahathir unfazed and unapologetic."

That pretty much was the story of Malaysia for the 22 years that Mahathir was in charge. There is no evidence that Mahathir himself was ever involved in corruption. Once, as Ferdinand Marcos was losing his grip on the Philippines, Mahathir pointed out to a group of reporters that he was conveyed around in a long black Daimler – the same model as the British ambassador used – that the Istana where he lived was a huge mansion, that he had everything he needed. Why, he asked, was there any need to take money from corruption? Nonetheless, in his drive to foster a Malay entrepreneurial class, he allowed those around him to pillage the national treasury almost at will, which carried over into Umno after he had left office and which blights the country to this day.

Wain follows intricate trails through much of this, ranging from the attempt, okayed by Mahathir, to attempt to rescue Bumiputra Malaysia Finance in the early 1980s which turned into what at the time was the world’s biggest banking scandal.

In the final analysis, much as Lee Kuan Yew down the road in Singapore strove to create a nation in his own image and largely succeeded, so did Mahathir. Both nations are flawed – Singapore in its mixture of technological and social prowess and draconian ruthlessness against an independent press or opposition, Malaysia with its iconic twin towers and its other attributes colored by a deepening culture of corruption that has continued well beyond his reign, which ended in 2003. Mahathir must bear the blame for much of this, in particular his destruction of an independent judiciary, as Wain writes, to further his aims.

Mahathir, as the former premier said in the conversation over his mansion and his car, had everything including, one suspects, a fully-developed sense of injustice. He appears to this day to continue to resent much of the west, particularly the British. Wain writes exhaustively of Mahathir’s deep antagonism over both British elitism during the colonial days and the disdain of his fellow Malays (Mahathir’s parentage is partly Indian Muslim on his father’s side), especially the Malay royalty. That antagonism against the British has been a hallmark of his career – from the time he instituted the "Buy British Last" policy for the Malaysian government as prime minister to the present day.

Robert Mugabe, in disgrace across much of the world for the way his policies have destroyed what was one of the richest countries in Africa, remains in Mahathir’s good graces. Asked recently why that was, an aide told me Mugabe had driven the British out of Zimbabwe and was continuing to drive out white farmers to this day, although he was replacing them with people who knew nothing of farming. That expropriation of vast tracts of white-owned land might have destroyed Zimbabwe’s agricultural production. But, the aide said, "He got the Brits out."

For anybody wishing to understand Mahathir and the nation he transformed, Wain’s book is going to be a must – but bring spectacles. The tiny type and gray typeface make it a difficult read.

Dr M: Keep the BTN course

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad feels that that the course curriculum of the National Civics Bureau’s (Biro Tatanegara) should be be retained.

The former prime minister said having delivered lectures at BTN several times, including speaking on the country’s history, he found the course to be appropriate.

He said the BTN served its purpose in explaining to government officers the importance of being committed to their service for the good of the nation.

While people sometimes misunderstood the values taught under BTN to create a progressive culture, Dr Mahathir said he did not see the course's module as being negative.

Speaking after opening the World AIDS Day 2009 commemoration event at the Wangsa Walk Mall yesteday, Dr Mahathir said: “However, deciding on whether the BTN should be revamped or not is the government’s responsibility.”

He said it was true that the BTN modules touched on the country’s history, including about the origins of the Malays, Chinese and Indians, adding that there was nothing wrong with that.

Dr Mahathir was commenting on the a recent statement by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz that the BTN would be reviewed to mirror the 1Malaysia concept.

The relevance of BTN had been hotly debated following the Selangor government’s decision to bar its civil servants and students of state-owned institutions of higher learning from attending the course. Selangor claimed that it was a Barisan Nasional (BN) effort to indoctrinate the people.

“There is nothing negative about BTN as the module is appropriate to instill awareness about nationalism,” said Dr Mahathir.

Commenting on opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s call for an independent observer from Australia to oversee Malaysia’s 13th general elections, Dr Mahathir said: “That is his (Anwar’s) style. He prefers to trust the white people and not the Malays.”

To a question on the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), Dr Mahathir said a study on the matter should be done first, with feedback from all stakeholders. He said it was important that the GST did not add burden to the people.

In his keynote address at the function yesterday, Dr Mahathir called on non-governmental organisations and the private sector to assist the government in educating the public on avoiding diseases such as AIDs.

He said ignorance was the main reason for the spread of AIDs, adding that with early education from young, the rise in rise spread of such diseases could be curbed.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Nazri calls Dr M a racist for defending NCB


KUALA LUMPUR: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has called Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad a racist for defending the National Civics Bureau (NCB) training modules.

Nazri said that while he agreed with the former prime minister’s sentiments about patriotism, he felt it was not the sole rights of the Malays.

“There are many of those who came out from the course very angry as many have felt that terms like Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) is ridiculous.

“When he was prime minister he asked everyone to think as Malay-sians. Now that he is not, he’s asking everyone to think otherwise.

“If you want to talk about patriotism, it is for all,” he said when asked about the issue at Parliament lobby yesterday.

Stressing that he disagreed with any syllabus that concentrated only on one community, Nazri wanted the Opposition to point out which part of the proposed revamp of the training modules they were unhappy with.

Nazri also reminded the Oppo-sition that some of them had been directly involved with the bureau.

“Selangor PAS commissioner Datuk Dr Hassan Ali was a former bureau director. Sungai Petani MP Datuk Johari Abdul was also once a bureau officer.

“Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s father-in-law was formerly involved with the bureau as well,” added Nazri.

Meanwhile in Cyberjaya, Dr Maha-thir described the criticism levelled against the bureau’s modules, which had been around for more than 20 years, as mere exaggeration as nobody who had attended the programme had complained about it.

“The participants had always found the courses useful because they taught about new cultures and new values like discipline, honesty and to reject corruption. I don’t see what is wrong with that,” he said after witnessing the signing of an agreement between RHB Islamic Bank Berhad and Joyful Gateway Sdn Bhd on the construction of a green building.

Dr Mahathir said that when Malaysia’s history was discussed, it would be mentioned that this country was once called Tanah Melayu.

“Now it is Malaysia because we have people who have come to settle down here. That is a fact of history. You can’t deny facts and history. But if we can’t even mention that, then we are denying history,” he said.