Jun 27, 2009

Tun Mahathir wants Najib to use 'crooked bridge' as bargaining chip

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is not about to give up on his “crooked bridge” idea to replace the existing Causeway link to Singapore. In fact, the wily veteran may be trying to ride the current wave of negative reaction to Singapore’s demand for sand to revive his own frozen S-shaped bridge.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has stepped up his campaign to revive the idea of a crooked bridge to replace the Johore Causeway connecting Malaysia with Singapore, by calling on the government to once again use it as leverage in resolving outstanding bilateral issues with the republic.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has come under considerable pressure since he proposed a third bridge to connect the two countries earlier this month, instead of reviving Dr Mahathir’s scenic bridge proposal to replace the Malaysian portion of the Causeway.

But a number of Umno politicians have already objected to the third bridge, especially since it is likely that Singapore would want Johor to lift its ban on the sale of sand to the republic before agreeing to it.

Last week the Johore Sultan also rejected the third bridge proposal.

Writing in his blog today, Dr Mahathir said that since Singapore would only agree to a straight bridge to replace the Causeway if the ban on selling sand was lifted and that considering Johoreans were against the sale, the government’s only option was to build the crooked bridge.

“This is the sovereign right of an independent nation,” said Dr Mahathir.

The crooked bridge was the brainchild of Dr Mahathir before he left office in 2003.

His administration had decided to unilaterally build a crooked bridge and demolish the Malaysian portion of the Causeway.

But in 2006 his successor Tun Abdullah Badawi’s government decided to scrap the plan, leading to the souring of ties between the two men.

Dr Mahathir began an intense political campaign against Tun Abdullah and eventually left Umno last year, returning to the party only recently when Najib took office.

But Najib is now beginning to come under pressure from Dr Mahathir even though the latter has not openly criticised the current administration yet.

The former PM continued to single out Abdullah for blame in his blog entry today.

“Tun Abdullah decided not only to not build the bridge but to stop negotiating over all the other issues,” he wrote.

Dr Mahathir cited the package of outstanding bilateral issues, including Singapore’s refusal to release CPF contributions to Malaysians, the railway land issue and the low rate in which the island republic pays for water from Malaysia.

“All these issues are in Singapore’s favour and not negotiating better terms because the Johore people refuse to sell sand is like cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face.

“We are the losers. I think it is a very stupid way of punishing Singapore.”

Last week, Najib said no firm decision had been made yet on whether to go ahead with the proposed third bridge.

Jun 22, 2009

PM Najib : 'We did not overwelcome Lee Kuan Yew'

Malaysia did not overwelcome Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew during his eight-day visit to the country, said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak today. The prime minister said Lee was not accorded more than what he deserved.

PUTRAJAYA, June 22 — Malaysia did not over welcome Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew during his eight-day visit to the country early this month, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The prime minister said Lee was not accorded more than what he deserved.

“I don’t think we gave him more than (what) he deserved,” he told reporters after opening the 7th Heads of Mission Conference at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre here today. He said this when answering a question on whether Malaysia had over welcomed the minister mentor.

Najib said he did not think Lee wanted to interfere in the country’s internal affairs when the latter made some comments.

“I don’t think so... (that) he wanted to interfere. I think he knows that any suggestion that he is trying to interfere would be counter-productive.

“His visit was for a fact-finding tour of the situation in Malaysia. We allowed it,” added the prime minister.

On whether Lee’s comment that Penang’s development was way behind Perak could be seen as insinuating, Najib said: “He made a few comments and overall, he wants to see Malaysia succeed, a stable Malaysia. That is most important.

“How he does it, is the style of the man and I think we have to recognise every person as being different.”

Lee had an audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin and Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak, as well as meeting Najib and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin during the visit which began on June 9.

He also visited Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Penang, Kelantan and Pahang. — Bernama

Jun 19, 2009

Tun Mahathir to PAS: National unity or Malay unity?

The former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Mahathir wants PAS to clarify whether the unity talk with UMNO is for National unity or Malay unity.

KUALA LUMPUR: PAS must clarify whether it wants to form a unity government with Umno or with the entire Barisan Nasional coalition, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“If the party joins forces with Umno, this would result in a Malay-dominated government. But we have always insisted that this country is for all communities,” he told reporters after opening the 11th International Surveyors’ Congress here yesterday.

“So, this move may unite the Malays, but it will not promote greater unity among Malaysians,” said Dr Mahathir.

He said he believed the current Barisan system was the best type of administration for the country.

On PAS insisting that its Pakatan Rakyat allies DAP and PKR be part of the proposed unity government, Dr Mahathir said Umno would also have to include MCA, MIC and other Barisan component parties in the deal.

“These (the component parties) are our friends. We cannot abandon them.”

Dr Mahathir, however, said he believed the country needed an opposition voice to provide checks and balance on the Govern ment.

“Without the opposition, we may not know what we are doing wrong. This is something we should uphold. We should not have a one-party state like certain countries.”

Asked whether he thought the current opposition was strong enough to point out the Government’s mistakes, Dr Mahathir said: “No, they are not a very intelligent Oppo sition.

“They should criticise when the Government really does something wrong. Criticising for the sake of being the Opposition is not very healthy.”

Jun 15, 2009

Tun Mahathir's dagger out for Lee Kuan Yew aka "Little Emperor"

In Tun Mahathir's latest blog posting, the 84-year-old former Malaysian premier unleashes a series of blows against Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew, the 85-year-old "Little Emperor from the tiny Middle Kingdom."

KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 – With no love lost between him and Lee Kuan Yew, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pulled no punches today and called the Singapore leader “a little Emperor … of a tiny Middle Kingdom” lecturing Malaysian leaders on how to run the country in his recent “triumphant visit to Malaysia”.

The longest-serving Malaysian prime minister also took a swipe at his successor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, calling him “the great 5th Prime Minister” who had decided not to build a new bridge or settle other outstanding issues with the island republic when Johoreans said they did not want to sell sand to Singapore for its reclamation works.

“During Lee Kuan Yew’s triumphant visit to Malaysia, he made it known to the Malaysian supplicants that Singapore regards the lands within 6,000 miles radius of Singapore as its hinterland. This includes Beijing and Tokyo and, of course, Malaysia,” Dr Mahathir said in posting at his popular www.chedet.cc.

He did not meet Kuan Yew, who is Singapore’s longest-serving prime minister, during the latter’s eight-day visit to Malaysia which ended today. The two leaders had an acrimonious relationship while in power.

“Of course this self-deluding perception places Singapore at the centre of a vast region. It is therefore the latter day Middle Kingdom. The rest are peripheral and are there to serve the interest of this somewhat tiny Middle Kingdom,” he added.

Dr Mahathir pointed out Kuan Yew’s explanation that Singapore Chinese would control the “Iskandar whatever” was not justified as Malays could work there, sarcastically saying “It is good to know that Malays can also work in their own country. I wonder as what? Maybe someone should make a study of the Malays of Singapore just to know what it is like to be a Malay minority in their own country”

He has been a long-term critic of the Iskandar development corridor launched by Abdullah three years ago, saying Singapore would dominate Malaysian territory, which is modelled on the fast-growing Shenzen region across Hong Kong.

Dr Mahathir also picked up his pet peeve about the price of raw water being sold to Singapore at 3 sen per 1,000 gallons under two agreements made in the 1960s.

“Lee says it was absurd for the former Prime Minister of hinterland Malaysia to ask to increase it to RM8 per 1,000 gallons. I don’t know where he got this. Some Malaysian officers did suggest this figure but we were ready to bargain and maybe settle for RM3.

“And why not? Johor sells raw water to Malacca for 30 sen, 1,000% higher than to Singapore. And Malacca is, I believe, a part of Malaysia! Some Malaysians may see the irony of this,” he added.

Reserving some vitriol for his favourite whipping boy, Abdullah, Dr Mahathir said, “The great 5th Prime Minister has decided that since the people of Johor did not want to sell sand to Singapore, Malaysia would not build any bridge, straight or crooked, or negotiate and settle the other issues like the Central Provident Fund, the Railway land.

“Maybe the 5th Prime Minister thinks he is punishing Singapore. Actually he is giving Singapore what its wants, including the 3 sen per 1,000 gallons water until 2060. Think of how many grains of nasi lemak we can buy with 3 sen in 2060. Imagine what 1,000 gallons will earn for Singapore at that time. Can’t think of a more astute PM for Malaysia,” he added

He also made a stinging observation about Kuan Yew’s visit to Kuala Lumpur, Seremban, Ipoh, Penang, Kota Bharu and Kuantan with his delegation in the past week.

“All those who met the great man from the little country were lectured on how Malaysia should be run. We should not have any more problems now. We have been told the direction to take. MCA must help Umno to win because Singapore does not want an Islamic party like PAS to win. We must ensure this.

“Sorry, PAS. Working with the DAP, the offspring of PAP has not endeared you to Mr Lee,” he wrote.

But he promised this was not the end of his diatribe against Kuan Yew.

“I have a lot more to say about this little Emperor but I will reserve it for later,” Dr Mahathir vowed.

Jun 12, 2009

Tun Mahathir : No reason for Kuan Yew to see me

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he does not see any reason for Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew to meet with him. He was asked by reporters on the possibility of him meeting Lee, who is in the country for an eight-day visit.
“I don’t see why he would request to see me – I am a nobody,” he told reporters when pressed further on should there be a request from Lee to see him.

(Malaysiakini) Sarcasm oozed out of every pore when reporters posed a question pertaining to Singaporean Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew to former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The 84-year-old statesman was asked if he would meet the Singaporean behemoth, who is a year older, if the latter requested for a meeting with him.

Lee is currently on an eight-day visit to Malaysia.

Mahathir said even if the former Singaporean premier requested a meeting, he would not meet him, and on the same note, added that he saw no reason why Lee would consider such a thing.

"No, I don't see why he would request to see me. I am nobody," he said.

On Lee meeting with Malaysian opposition leaders, Mahathir replied that he could meet anyone he likes.

"He has a lot of experience. Our politicians know nothing, so that is why we have to learn from Singapore.

"Singapore is a great country, it invests so much money (in Malaysia)," he said.

During Mahathir's 22-year reign, bilateral ties between the two neighbouring states was often on the rocks.

However, the relationship became rosier after Abdullah Ahmad Badawi succeeded Mahathir in 2003, a development which the latter sarcastically attributed to the new premier's penchant for playing golf.

Jun 10, 2009

Tun Mahathir says Opposition necessary as reflection of government

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says that the country needs an opposition that can hold up a mirror to the government.

SHAH ALAM, June 9 – Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the opposition was necessary as a reflection of the government.

“It’s not healthy to have a one-party state. We need to have the opposition. Otherwise, we won’t have a ‘mirror’ to see whether we look good or not,” he said at a news conference, here, today.

He was asked to comment on the proposal made by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang at the party’s 55th general assembly last week on the setting up of a unity government between PAS and Umno.

Dr Mahathir said the unity government proposal was also not clear, whether it was to be between PAS and Umno or between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat.

“If unity is just among Malays, Chinese with Chinese, and Indians with Indians, we’ll be divided into three groups. I don’t know... but it’s not my problem, I’m already retired.

“In those days when we formed BN, we invited all parties to join, except DAP. PAS also joined BN but later split from the coalition as it used its power in government to strengthen the party and not BN,” he said.

Asked how a unity government could benefit the country, Dr Mahathir said it would only bring good if both sides were sincere about doing it in the interest of the nation.

“But it’s sometimes difficult for politicians to be sincere. I’m also a politician, you know,” he said, smiling. – Bernama

Jun 4, 2009

Video : Tun Mahathir - Give PM Najib time


Tun Mahathir does not know the basic concept of 1Malaysia

Tun Mahathir says he is not aware of the basic concept of PM Najib's 1Malaysia concept.

PUTRAJAYA, June 3 - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has never been shy about offering up his opinions but the feisty former prime minister appears to be holding his tongue so far on what he thinks about the fledgling administration of Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Asked today after a function at his office here about what he thought about Najib’s heavily criticised 1 Malaysia slogan, he offered up a curt “I don’t know.”

Pressed further, he said: “I don’t know what the basic concept is about as I was not told about it.”

Najib’s 1 Malaysia concept is meant to promote the idea of inclusiveness for all races in his government.

The government has, however, found it hard to explain what exactly what 1 Malaysia means, and has been on the defensive against criticisms that it bears a striking resemblance to the DAP’s old Malaysian Malaysia slogan, which was opposed by Umno as an idea which questions Malay rights.

Dr Mahathir was also asked today if he thought the government could do better to improve the ailing economy and his reply was another one liner: “It can.”

He also refused to comment on Najib’s economic council saying that he is not part of the government so he knows nothing about it.

His former political secretary Matthias Chang was, however, scathing in remarks published on his blog this week in his criticism of Najib’s economic council and the manner in which the economy was being managed.

Chang’s attacks appear to suggest some unhappiness within Dr Mahathir’s camp about some of Najib’s appointments to government posts.