KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he will not sue the author of a political biopic despite claims in the book that the former prime minister squandered RM100 billion (US$40 billion) of the country’s wealth.
“My view is that a politician must accept all the opinions for or against him as normal. They go with the job,” he said in his blog chedet.co.cc.
Former Asian Wall Street Journal editor, Barry Wain, whose book Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times, had also attributed many problems hampering Malaysia today to the former prime minister’s 22-year-tenure.
However, Dr Mahathir said the author and his supporters can say what they like.
“The people in this country can decide whether it is just arrogance or whether their accusations are what they say they are. I will have my say if I think it necessary.”
He said many have asked him to sue the author especially after a recent forum held at the University of Malaya to discuss the book during which he was condemned for all kinds of misdeeds.
“In fact even before the book was allowed to be sold in Malaysia, many who took exception to Barry Wain’s vilification of my stint as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, including the press, have asked me to sue the author.”
However, Dr Mahathir said that he was wary of politicians who sue their critics, describing the move as cowardly
“I suspect that what they want is to make the issue sub-judice so as to prevent the critics from attacking them on the issue. This is a cowardly move and in fact proves that the criticisms are fully justified.”
He said a politician who is convinced of his own integrity and innocence should be able to fend off the attacks by proving that they have no basis.
“It is up to the people, after hearing both sides to decide on the matter.”
He said muzzling critics by abusing the authority of the court is no better than governments which censor or shut down papers, critical of them.
“Those who resort to this trick to shut the mouths of their critics are in fact showing the kind of leader they would make if they come to power.”
He said Malaysians should be discerning enough to recognise such politicians who are fond of accusing others of misdeeds but who are in fact already abusing whatever little power they may have at their disposal.
In his best seller, Wain indicated that issues which exist in Malaysia today including corruption, lack of leadership and abuse of the New Economic Policy stemming from Dr Mahathir’s tenure.
However Wain, who was a foreign correspondent in Malaysia from 1977 to 1979 and has worked in Asia for 38 years, said Malaysia was already one of the fastest-growing developing economies midway into Dr Mahathir tenure.
The book, a result of two-and-a-half years of research and interviews spread over three years, was launched in Asia in December last year but the Home Ministry only approved its sale in Malaysia in April this year.
Over 4,000 copies were sold here after its launch and another 5,000 copies are being printed for Malaysia by UBSD Distribution Sdn Bhd.