Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Mahathir's Sting (Ep. 1)

Tun Dr. M's regrets
R. Manirajan

PUTRAJAYA: In his most direct attack on his successor to date, former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad today (June 7, 2006) said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had reneged on a promise to continue with his policies.

Expressing some regrets over picking Abdullah as his successor, Mahathir lamented: "I chose him and expected a degree of gratefulness (sic). But I was told I had been involved in mega projects and had finished the (government's) money."

Conceding he had made mistakes in supporting people who later stabbed him in the back, he said: "I have a habit of choosing the wrong people".

Mahathir had four deputies during his 22 years in power. The first Tun Musa Hitam quit after falling out with him in 1986 while the second, the late Tun Ghafar Baba, was ousted by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who latter clashed with Mahathir and was sacked and jailed.

Mahathir said he had chosen Abdullah over Datuk Seri Najib Razak to be his successor despite the fact that the latter had the higher votes as Umno vice-president to fill the vacuum left by the sacking of Anwar. Mahathir said this at a press conference called to talk about a global peace forum that the Perdana Leadership Foundation is organising. After the briefing, he took questions from journalists including the foreign media.

"The (present) government not only did not do what was promised (to me) but instead reversed many of the decisions made when the leader (Abdullah) was part of the (previous) government," he said. "I tolerated this as much as possible, including the charge that I finished all of the government's money ... that the government was bankrupt and couldn't have any more projects," Mahathir said.

"I kept quiet but when something that is done that is really harmful, I think I would be failing my duty as an ordinary citizen and an ex-prime minister if I don't direct attention to these matters."

Mahathir said he had suffered "bruises" as a result of being accused of finishing the government's money. But he stressed that despite his unhappiness, he was not engineering the ouster of Abdullah saying that it was "for Umno members to decide".

Following are excerpts from the press conference:

Q: Can you describe your relationship with the present government? It looks very hostile?

A: Well when I decided to step down, I gave an undertaking that I will not involve myself in politics, that I would not interfere with the government. On the other hand of course there were certain things promised that would be done by the (present) government, but the government not only did not do what was promised but in fact reversed many of the decisions made while the leader of the (present) government was (also) in the (previous) government.

There were no objections (then) and we agreed fully with all the proposals. And I had hoped that they would be carried out. I understand of course that new leaders want to have an impact and make their mark during their period in power. The times may change. But what was undertaken before would have to be carried out, (and) new things can be introduced. So the decision not to keep to promises was not mine.

I tolerated this for as much as possible including the charge that I finished all of the government's money, that the government was bankrupt and couldn't have any more projects. I kept quiet but when something that is done that is really harmful, I think I would be failing my duty as an ordinary citizen and an ex-PM if I don't direct attention to this matters.

As said, I was not the one who first broke the promise, the undertaking given. Of course I gave my undertaking publicly, while the leader of the new government did not but the fact is that promises had been made on both sides.

Q: Do you regret quitting?

A: No, one cannot tell exactly what a person would do after he is out of your control. I thought I made a good choice. I wouldn't know if I had picked somebody else, these things would not happen. If I chose someone else, it might very well also happen.

Q: What was your biggest blunder?

A: I have made many blunders in my career. I have helped many people up only for them to stab me in the back. So it is a common trait for me. I'm in the habit of choosing the wrong people. But the present government can do a good job if they want to. The means are there but if they come under the influence of people who have other agenda, then I can't help.

Q: Who are you referring to?

A: It is up to the press to know, you know more than I do.

Q: Do you think Pak Lah has stabbed you in the back?

A: Minor bruises like saying I finished all their money when I know very well when the country has never been as rich as it is now.

Having chosen him as my successor, in fact he was not the first choice, he was second, as he didn't have the highest votes. Najib had. I chose him and I expect a degree of gratefulness. But I was told that I had involved in mega projects and finished the money.

Q: Are you engineering the early departure of the PM?

A: No, I'm not capable of that. When he does the right thing, I have nothing to say (and will) support him but if he does the wrong thing and undermines national interest then I will have my say.

Q: Are you trying to have him replaced?

A: I can't have him removed, it is for his own party to remove him, for Umno to remove him. I am not helping or going around campaigning and telling people to remove this man. But I'm supportive of Umno, my party.

Q: Are you confident of his management?

A: If he keeps on doing the wrong things I cannot be confident so I'll keep watching. But it must be something substantial before I pass my comments. Simple things like which people are getting contracts I will not say anything.

Q: Putrajaya is not developing after you retired?

A: The government claims it has no money to continue. That is why they stopped so many projects in Putrajaya. They have stopped the mosque, the monorail has been shelved. My contention is the government has lots of money and Putrajaya is built largely with Petronas funds. Petronas made a profit of RM50 billion last year and this year RM80 billion. Petronas has a lot of money. Petronas can build if you want them to.

Updated: 08:32pm Wed, 07 Jun 2006 (The SUN Online)

Other Links:
Biznews (Malaysia's Mahathir: Successor Betrayed Trust - Update 1)
Asia Times Online (A Bridge Too Far For Malaysia's Premier)

Read Also:
An Open Letter To The PM (Jacqueline Ann Surin, The SUN Columnist)


Did the shoe just dropped?



Anonymous julthefool said...

"he didn't have the highest votes. Najib had." - what does that say about Dr. M's democratic credentials?

Also interesting how he sees Petronas as a bottomless fund for his projects.

It seems to me that Dr M is voicing out what a number of UMNOites are thinking... Clearly, Najib can start to plan his next move now...

8/6/06 15:38  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

I find the Petronas revelation very interesting. For the longest time, no one was privy to how profitable this national company is. Now that the cat is out of the bag, I wonder whether the govt can justify all the tightening measures which had left the bottom-rung rakyat struggling to survive on their shrunken Ringgit.

9/6/06 16:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the numbers earned by Petronas is an OFFICIAL SECRET!. Some years back, I heard that the auditors can only send auditors of certain skin color to audit Petronas's Treasury Dept. Maybe this requirement still prevails.

Anyone can confirm whether is Petronas's profits considered "Official Secret"?

9/6/06 17:45  

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