Saturday, April 21, 2007

“I did not apologize to Dato’ (Seri) Abdullah!”

Extracted from
Courtesy of Biggum Dogmannsteinberg

That was what former Prime Minister YABhg Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad responded when asked to clarify about the Thurday’s (19 April 2007) Bernama and NST report on his apology for the ‘house in Perth’ issue, raised by Raja Petra Kamaruddin of Malaysia Today during the media conference after the keynote address at Perdana Discourse on “Media and National Development”, last Wednesday.

“I asked the apology from the public, for the error made”. He added after the loud laughter and hand clap simmered to the earlier response. This was during the question and answer time at the “Afternoon tea session with Tun Dr. Mahathir”, organized by Taman Chempaka UMNO branch, of the Pandan UMNO Division at the Kelab Darul Ehsan ballroom, this afternoon.

About 350 people turned up, mostly UMNO members around Ampang and Ulu Kelang area. Some as far away as Johor Bahru drove down for the event. Last 10 November 2006, the same branch organized a Hari Raya party for Tun Dr. Mahathir at their branch. However, he was hospitalized since two days earlier for a mild heart attack and his son, Dato’ Mukhriz Mahathir represented him.

When another man from the audience asked about Khairy Jamaluddin, Vice Head of UMNO Youth, Tun Dr. Mahathir coyly asked the audience back, “Khairy ni apa dia?” (What is this ‘Khairy’). Again, after the laughter simmered, he added “Ini ada satu orang brilliant”. However, Tun Dr. Mahathir questioned the leadership of Khairy as he is in his position today because no one contested him. Usually, people in UMNO who have the luxury or honour to be elected into position uncontested because he had served the party long and his service has immensely been acknowledged.

Most of what he said in this event, were the same issues that he raised previously in Johor Bahru on the 10 February and Kulai 29 March. He talked at length about how the nation evolved from autocracy into democracy. Before, the rakyat or common people could not even imagine able to be given the power to administer and manage the country as it was only the rulers’ privilege. Unity and the power of the people is another important issues brought up.

Tun Dr. Mahathir reminded the audience even when we gained our independence, they opted for the constitutional monarchy system, which is based on democracy. It means the people decide who should be in power to rule.

Democracy should be used with care. It could bring about positive results and it also would bring devastated outcomes. Tun Dr. Mahathir used Iraq as the example. During Saddam’s time, there was no democracy, but the people lived in much better condition than today. Even though there is a democratically elected government, Iraqis suffer worse than before, under Saddam’s iron fist dictatorial regime.

He reminded the UMNO members that UMNO had went through several pre matured leadership change. Even though the pre matured leadership changes were carried out against Presidents who have brought triumphant achievements and contributions to UMNO and the Malays, when they no longer suitable with aspirations of the majority, they were asked to leave. Each time this happened, Tun Dr. Mahathir added, UMNO became stronger and performed better.

This is a healthy democratic process, within UMNO.

Tun Dr. Mahathir also said there have been talks about him being expelled from the party. He asked the people who strongly felt that he should be sacked, study the reasons carefully. The democracy within UMNO today is about protecting self interests. He said, many people are ‘bought’ with so many ‘material’ tools like contracts and APs issued, concessions and appointed into influential positions.

Tun Dr. Mahathir also reiterated that now exist the culture to insulate the top decision makers from information and protect the interests of certain leaders, at all cost. So much so, the police have been calling up people to ensure certain events are not held and support not given to certain people. Tun Dr. Mahathir also experienced 14 of the invitations issued to him for speaking to various audiences were revoked as the organizers were ‘pressured’ to do so.

He told the UMNO audience that unity is very important if it brought strength and progress to the Malays. Unity should strengthen the Perjuangan and the Malays should continuously be looked after.

During the Q & A time, he was asked about his son Mirzan’s deal pertaining to the Konsortium Perkapalan and Tun Dr. Mahathir explained the story, in great detail. He said that Anwar Ibrahim would continuously say that Mirzan’s case was a bail out and it cost RM 2 billion where else Petronas profited (over USD 300 million) for the deal.

He also sarcastically talked about the culture of “Takut” (fear) lately. That was a response to a question whether exist a force that made situation like what is today be saying “Apa nak takut kepada kuasa besaq chet?” (What is there to be afraid from powers as tiny as fingernail?). Obviously, he was referring to the policy changes towards Singapore. “Memanglah dia tu tinggi sikit, tetapi apa nak takut dia?” . He was talking about Prime Minister Brig. Gen. (NS) Lee Hsien Loong. That drew hysterical laughter from the crowd.

Tun Dr. Mahathir was in the mood for sarcasm today. It brought a lot of cheer to the audience, which include his wife, Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah, Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Arif, Dato’ Mohd Nor Rejab, Dato’ Idris Tulis and Dato’ Ibrahim Ali.