Feb 11, 2007

Mahathir warns against Umno helping start dynasty

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wants Umno members to reject any attempt to establish a Singapore-style dynasty in the party, just as he had avoided doing so during his 22 years as the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The former Prime Minister said that while he was in power he had not wanted any of his children to be involved in politics though there had been suggestions by other leaders then to field his children in the elections.

"Any attempt to establish a dynasty should be opposed. Umno does not have to duplicate the way of Singapore, which has the Lee Kuan Yew Dynasty," he said in his keynote address at a leadership seminar organised by website blog MYKMU.NET here.

"Don't try to make your son or son-in-law as the PM," Mahathir told the 400-strong crowd at a function.

"I hope all Malaysians would oppose any attempts to start a dynasty. In our country anybody can become the PM even the fisherman."

Dr Mahathir said every member of Umno, since the party was set up by Datuk Onn Jaafar 60 years ago, has the right to express his opinion and criticism if decisions adopted by the leadership are not right.

The act of criticising leaders, he said, was not alien to Umno members because it has been happening since the time that the party was helmed by its previous leaders - Onn, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak, Tun Hussein Onn and he himself.

"We have to be bold enough to criticise leaders if their decisions are not good and undermine the self-esteem of the people," he said.

The 82-year-old Dr Mahathir said his criticisms of his successor (Prime Minister) Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi only touched on the way the country was administered and were never personal in nature.

"They had nothing to do with the personal aspect," he said.

Dr Mahathir also spoke of what he described as Umno members' loss of freedom and boldness to express opinions contrary to those of the party and its leadership.

"I feel very sad because Umno has now changed. Today it is not ready to hear what it doesn't want to hear," he said. "There's climate of fear."

He claimed that now only views in support of the leadership were allowed while opinions on the contrary would be prohibited.

"Umno members have to listen to opinions and views of both sides to enable them make an evaluation before making the right decision. If we listen to the views of only one side, we will be incapable of making the right decision," he said.

According to him, the situation was similar to that of a judge who required explanations from the prosecution and the defence before he could arrive at a just decision in a case.

Dr Mahathir, who had recovered from a mild heart attack three months ago, said party members who expressed opinions and views contrary to the decisions of the leaders faced the possibility of losing opportunities, contracts and such.

According to him, the Umno of today is different from the Umno during his time and before that, whereby members were now not permitted to listen to differing views.

Dr Mahathir said that by only allowing the views of one side to be heard by members, all the decisions adopted would be supported, even if they were not right.

He said it was not necessary for Malaysia to sign the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States because by signing it Malaysia would lose its right to several things such as government procurement.

The talks between both sides are now being held in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. He said Washington wanted to control government procurement contracts, not only in Malaysia but also throughout the world. - Bernama

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