Aug 16, 2007

Tun Mahathir : I have never taken sides with the Opposition

During a 3-hour meeting with bloggers, web-site owners and on-line writers in Putrajaya recently

  • Tun Mahathir slams Pak Lah for corruption, incompetence

  • Malaysiakini : Tun Mahathir - Bloggers are only hope left

  • TheStar : Tun Mahathir - I’m not with the Opposition

Report by Malaysiakini
As Umno musters its forces against the emergence of bloggers, the party’s former president Dr Mahathir Mohamad is urging online dissidents to keep up the pressure on the government.

At a special meeting with bloggers today, Mahathir described bloggers as the “only hope” left to speak out on problems in the country.

“Umno has become completely paralysed. It cannot do anything (to correct itself). The only hope left is with the bloggers,” said Mahathir during a two-and-a-half hour speech to some 100 bloggers at the Perdana Leadership Foundation headquarters in Putrajaya.

Mahathir was speaking on the perceived intolerance of Umno’s leadership towards criticism on allegations of corruption, cronyism and nepotism.

He has been over the past two years attacking number of party leaders, in particular his handpicked successor, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his powerful son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, who is Umno Youth deputy chief.

Up until now, Mahathir had only been expressing tacit support for online dissidents, although he had once dubbed malaysiakini as “traitors to the country” when he was in power.

‘Be brave’

Of late, many Umno leaders have been on an unprecedented warpath against bloggers who criticise the government and its policies.

Mahathir also referred to the eight-hour marathon police interrogation of political website owner Raja Petra Kamarudin as an example of how the authorities can intimidate bloggers.

“You have to gather force. You have to talk to people. Even if you are arrested, you go and talk... If you have only one person doing that, it’s not good enough.

“If you want to do something that is positive, you have to get everybody, as much as possible, and do it openly and say it loud and clear,” said Mahathir who was met with loud applause from the floor.

Citing a recent lecture in a local university, Mahathir expressed disappointment with students who blamed the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) as the reason for not speaking out on issues.

“There are ways to get around the rules and regulations. If you want, if you love your country, you would take the risk,” he added.

Write prudently

However, Mahathir advised bloggers to be careful in their writings and avoid courting negative publicity.

“There are bloggers who use words that are dirty, obscene, personal attacks, monkey, monyet... people would react by saying ‘so those are bloggers? Useless people! Read the mainstream media. The (New) Straits Times tells you the truth,’” said Mahathir with his usual sarcasm.

On the upcoming general election, Mahathir claimed that there would be widespread vote buying due to the precedence set in the recent Selangor’s Ijok and Pahang’s Batu Talam by-elections.

“It is for certain that in the coming general election, a lot of money would be spent in vote buying... if the ruling parties do this, we would be governed by a government that is outrightly involved in corruption,” he said.

“For RM200, people are willing to sell their votes. They are not just selling their votes. Dia jual maaruahnya (he is selling his dignity).”

Updates from RockyBru - "There is something rotten in the state of Malaysia"

While as reported by TheStar

I’m not with the Opposition, says Dr M
PUTRAJAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has refuted claims that he is on the “Opposition’s side”, stressing his love and loyalty remained strongly with Umno, the country, and his religion and race.

“I have never taken sides with the Opposition. I love my party dearly but this does not mean that I support the party leadership,” he said at a dialogue session with the Malaysian Concerned Citizens Council ad-hoc committee (Prihatin) at the Perdana Leadership Foundation yesterday.

The former prime minister said that when he quarrelled with the late first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, it was because he loved the party and wanted to save Umno.

He said that while loyalty to the party should remain steadfast, members must be brave enough to point out leaders' mistakes so they would not be repeated and “bring about destruction and downfall, and weaken the party”.

“Leaders on the other hand, must not have this misconception that support for Umno means support for them too. When there is victory, leaders think it is because the people support them when the support may just have been for the party.”

Unlike other races, particularly the Chinese, who would use their votes to send a message or make a point, the Malays, he claimed, would blindly support political parties, whether Umno or PAS.

Dr Mahathir admitted he had failed to alter the mindset of his race, particularly on the issue of loyalty, and pointing out mistakes and wrongdoings by leaders.

“If 400 years ago, they were loyal to the Sultans, now their loyalty is to political leaders,” he said, adding that the Malays’ fear of going against leaders was mainly because they did not want to be perceived as derhaka (treacherous), as loyalty was one of the race’s traits.

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