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So what's happening to Malaysia's Mahathir   [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2006-11-7 14:14:20 |Display all floors
Remember the man?

Mahathir bin Mohamad, who stepped down as prime minister three years ago but now is the biggest critic of his handpicked successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, isn't happy with what's going on in Malaysia.

"I may even be expelled from the party," Mahathir said in an interview.

Mahathir's attacks on the government - in the interview he lashed out at everything from its economic policies to what he calls the prime minister's short attention span - are seen by many as a self-serving and inelegant coda to a long, visionary career.

Yet many Malaysians say they wish Mahathir would be allowed to stir things up at the party congress. The former prime minister's campaign against the government is eliciting increasing levels of sympathy and support here from investment bankers, lawyers and other Malaysians dismayed that the government lacks a coherent long-term plan for the economy and has not delivered on its promises to clean up corruption.

Even Anwar Ibrahim, the former deputy prime minister who was fired, jailed and beaten in prison during Mahathir's rule, said the government was not paying enough attention to Mahathir's criticisms.

"He has brought up some very key substantive issues that include allegations of a police state, rampant corruption, cronyism, abuse of power and a media that is not free," Anwar said in a telephone interview.

"People ridicule this and say all these things were his policies, too. But notwithstanding that, you have to reply," Anwar said. "There is a failure on the part of Abdullah and the present administration to address the substantive criticisms by Mahathir, which I think to an extent are legitimate criticisms."

After he dominated politics here for 22 years and shaped the destiny of modern Malaysia, Mahathir's voice cannot be ignored, analysts said.

During an interview at his 86th-floor office in the Petronas Towers, Mahathir gestures toward the vertiginous vista of the modern city that he helped build: skyscrapers and an elegantly landscaped park rimmed by luxury hotels.

He complains that the government is not spending enough on infrastructure and is letting the economy sag. "All these new buildings that you see were actually approved during my time," Mahathir said without a trace of self-effacement.

Abdullah is handing out contracts to friends and family, Mahathir complained. And he is abdicating Malaysia's role as a spokesman for the Third World. He should either change course or step down, Mahathir said.

"He need not go if he is willing to do what is right," Mahathir said. "Of course if he is not willing then I think he should not stand in the way of the country's continued development."

A government official who works with Abdullah said the prime minister was traveling in Pakistan and unable to respond. But the official dismissed Mahathir's comments as a "distraction."

"The prime minister was elected by the people," said the official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on behalf of the government. "Ultimately his future should be determined by the people who put him in office rather than the wants of one man."

After Abdullah's three years in power, Malaysians admire him for allowing more debates about sensitive issues such as race and religion. "He

loosened up control," said Sankara Nair, an activist lawyer. "People feel more free to express their views."

Abdullah is also credited with making some basic government services like passport issuance more efficient and easing the reins on the judiciary.

But there is also frustration among everyone from bankers to taxi drivers that Abdullah does not have the same vision for the future that Mahathir did.

'The man on the street is saying, 'Where is the economy heading?'" Sankara said.

In his quest to challenge or ultimately unseat Abdullah, some of Mahathir's difficulties are of his own making: Abdullah remains relatively secure as president of the party partly because Mahathir made it more difficult to oust the party leadership during his own reign.

"None of the cabinet ministers are willing to abandon Abdullah - they

know the consequences," said P. Ramasamy, a political science professor based in Singapore. Siding with Mahathir would mean dismissal and cutting themselves off from lucrative contracts, he said.

What may be troubling for Abdullah, Ramasamy said, is that some of Mahathir's criticisms are sticking. In a sign that he may fear a challenge to his position, Abdullah recently postponed party

elections that were to be held next year.

Resignation exposes rift in Arroyo's circle"Mahathir may not have the power to remove him but he has done a lot of damage to Abdullah Badawi. The prime minister's credibility is at stake," Ramasamy said.

Mahathir holds no post in the United Malays National Organization, the party that leads the country's coalition government, and he failed in a recent attempt to win election as a delegate to the general assembly next week. He can attend in his capacity as a former president of the party, but that does not give him the right to speak.

At 81 years old, Mahathir walks more slowly than he used to. He travels frequently, but he enters the back seat of his chauffeured cars carefully and deliberately; doctors told him recently that he has three blockages in his heart.

Yet Mahathir retains his feisty, acerbic style. He complains that he is being blocked by the police from meeting with supporters, repeating his claim that Malaysia is a "police state."

"Muzzled," he said. "I can't talk to anybody. If I talk to the mainstream press it is either not published or it is spun in a way that makes me look bad."

After an hourlong interview it is difficult to know what exactly spurred this former medical doctor to jump back into politics. He said he was bothered most by the sway that Abdullah's son- in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, has over policy and the awarding of contracts. But he was also worried about preserving his legacy and continuing his aggressive building program of highways, bridges and ports.

But Mahathir does not seem prepared to abandon the fight. Asked whether the idea of a quiet retirement - John Grisham novels on the beach and quality time with grandchildren - tempts him, he responded without hesitation.

"No, I think I have an obligation to the country and to the people," he said. "I don't care much about what happens to me."

IHT

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Post time 2006-11-7 14:25:36 |Display all floors

Nothing new, maybe some WAYANG KULIT....

...IT's a dangerous world out there!

SELF INTEREST is the main consideration!
Tribal links, languages, religion, territory occupied, networks, resources available are only leverage!

Mahathir probably understand my VIEWPOINTs and my explainations!
It's probably hard when people TELLS THE TRUTH...
but a GREAT PERSON will do what is RIGHT and GOOD for his people!


Green Dragon
New Middle Kingdom
Elder

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Post time 2006-11-7 17:00:09 |Display all floors
Originally posted by greendragon at 2006-11-7 14:25
...IT's a dangerous world out there!

SELF INTEREST is the main consideration!
Tribal links, languages, religion, territory occupied, networks, resources available are only leverage!

Mahathir ...


What's happened to Anwar?

Is he able to run for office after a stint in jail?

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Post time 2006-11-7 17:39:35 |Display all floors

Q & A with Mahathir bin Mohamad - 1

For 22 years Mahathir bin Mohamad dominated Malaysia's ruling party, the United Malays National Organization, and set a course for the country that helped upgrade its infrastructure and diversify its economy. Mahathir was praised for the modernization of Malaysia but criticized for eroding the independence of many institutions, the courts and the media among them. When Mahathir retired in 2003 he vowed not to interfere with the government of his hand-picked successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who had replaced Anwar Ibrahim, the former finance minister dismissed by Mahathir. Now Mahathir, 81, is battling back into the political spotlight, calling for Abdullah to either change course or step down. His critique resonates among Malaysians who are frustrated by the slow pace of promised reforms and worried that Abdullah's program of "Islam Hadari," or civilizational Islam, is blurring the lines between government and religion. Mahathir says he is being shut out of the press and stymied by police from holding meetings with supporters. He spoke with Thomas Fuller of the International Herald Tribune about the reasons for his return to politics at his 86th floor office in the Petronas Towers. Excerpts:

QUESTION: Eight years ago we met in your old office. It was two days after Anwar had been arrested and a month after he'd been fired. I asked you what you would look for in a successor to Anwar. This is what you said: "An honest man who is capable. Not a genius. I am not expecting a fair copy of myself." In the end we know the outcome: You chose Abdullah. What went wrong?

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Post time 2006-11-7 17:40:22 |Display all floors

Q & A -- 2

ANSWER: Before I proceed with this there is of course this label against me that I [ran] a very authoritarian government -- I censored the papers, I undermined the independence of the judiciary. No matter how I explain that this was not so, the press, especially the foreign press, keeps on repeating this... What I did was under the laws of the country. The laws may be draconian like the ISA [Internal Security Act, which calls for detention without trial] but the same laws were used by my predecessors, from the first prime minister to the third prime minister...What is happening now is different. There is no law which provides for the police to call up people and basically threaten them to call off the meetings that they proposed to hold and to invite me.

QUESTION: You feel muzzled?

QUESTION: In the Anwar days if I read the newspapers - during 1998 in the days after he was fired - Anwar's statements were not carried. His actions were also spun.

ANSWER: That may be true but papers tend to self-censor. They censor themselves. They think that this might not please the leadership. So they don't publish. But here we have people actually ringing up the papers telling them you print this, you don't print this. That has never been done during my time.

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Post time 2006-11-7 17:40:52 |Display all floors

Q & A -- 3

QUESTION: You never did that?

ANSWER: I never did that. At the same time of course Anwar was free to go around the country. He had gatherings of 10,000 and 15,000 people. He was never stopped.

QUESTION: Let's get to the substance of your return to politics. What do you think Abdullah's biggest blunders have been?

ANSWER: I promised not to interfere with the government. For two years I did not interfere with his government. But what I noticed is that from the very beginning his family members became involved in government process. They actually attended government meetings although they had no status whatsoever. There is clear evidence that the son in law [Khairy Jamaluddin] has very big say even in the appointment of ministers, even in the choice of candidates for the election. I have been told by the very people who have experienced this that he rings up chief ministers to give certain projects to certain people, including to his mother. This is something that I believe is absolutely true because the person who lost the project was very unhappy and he told me...

QUESTION: What state was this in and what project was it?

ANSWER: Prawn culture in the state of Perlis and a contract I believe in the state of Negri Sembilan.

QUESTION: But in the larger scheme of things -- you were in power for 2 decades and you set a course for the country -- these types of projects allocated to friends they happen in every country and they might not put Malaysia off of the tracks. Is there a bigger picture?

ANSWER: No. During my time, my children were not given any role at all. You don't hear of my children directing people or influencing people or selling influence or getting paid. They were not supposed to have business with the government unless of course they tender out in the usual way. If their tender is good, I suppose they win but very very little. I kept my children even from becoming candidates. They could become candidates for the elections they could not become candidates for the party also.

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Post time 2006-11-7 17:41:37 |Display all floors

Q & A -- 4

ANSWER: Yeah, but the shipping business was his own. He bought the shipping business in Hong Kong. He bought shares in the local shipping business. He was doing quite well excepting that during the financial crisis he couldn't meet the demands for him to pay. So he had to sell off... Within the country the only people who could buy was Petronas and Petronas bought it cheap. It relieved him somewhat I suppose but he was still having financial trouble.

QUESTION: What's your view on Islam Hadari?

ANSWER: In the first place there is no call to introduce any other kind of Islam, whether it is modern Islam or Islam Hadari. I have always maintained that Islam is a religion for all ages... I believe that the teachings of the religion as found in the Koran [are] very mild, very reasonable and should make for a good Muslim community. There is no need to go to any other branch, just stick to the fundamental teachings of Islam.

QUESTION: What about Abdullah's economic management?

ANSWER: Basically he does not understand how to move the economy. In order to prove that I was wrong in spending government money on what he calls mega projects he cuts back on that. If government does not spend money it doesn't generate wealth in the community...

QUESTION: Some have criticized Abdullah for being, for lack of a better word, sleepy... Do you feel that he lacks the energy that you had?

ANSWER: His attention span is very short and everybody tells me... that he goes to sleep, even while cases are being presented to him... He tends to let his advisors tell him what to do.

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