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Me, a dictator? It’s Najib who’s proving to be one, says Dr M

 | August 17, 2017

PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad says the fact that he resigned after 22 years as prime minister and has joined former political foes, shows he was never a dictator.

mahathir-najib12_09_baruPETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad has responded to Prime Minister Najib Razak calling him a dictator, saying “coming from him, the assertion is ridiculous”.

Writing in his blog today, the former prime minister said all the actions by Najib pointed to him being the dictator instead.

“He has never allowed any challenge against him in the party. His deputy was sacked and he engineered the removal of my son, the menteri besar of Kedah, replacing him with one of his toadies,” Mahathir said referring to his son Mukhriz who became Kedah MB in 2013 but quit in February last year. He was replaced by Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah.

“There is now total censorship of the print and electronic media. He got the police to arrest and detain the people who reported on his alleged criminal activities.

“Under Najib, the income tax department raids businesses and demands extra tax on pain of being blacklisted. Books belonging to the businesses are seized and accounts frozen so that no business can be done,” Mahathir said alluding to his sons’ companies which were raided by the Inland Revenue Board last week.

Mahathir, who is PPBM and Pakatan Harapan chairman, also claimed Najib had enacted new laws which gives him the power to detain anyone without trial.

Getting back to the accusation from Najib, as reported by Bernama on Sunday, Mahathir said putting negative labels on a rival was one of the most effective ways of defeating enemies in politics.

“In my time I have been given several labels and they proved very difficult to get rid off.

“Early in my political career I was labelled a Malay ultra, who was anti-Chinese and an extremist. No matter what I said or did, they would all be considered as extreme, as ultra, as typical of an extremist.

“I suffered much from this labelling. It took me many years to stop people, especially the Chinese from thinking of me as a Malay ultra and a chauvinist,” he said.

He added he was only able to shake it off in 1999 when he gained strong Chinese support in the general election, after the Malays had rejected him and the Barisan Nasional.

“However, the dictator label is another one that has stuck, and no one fails to call me a dictator whenever they have occasion to talk about me.

“This is especially with journalists. When reporting about me they never fail to mention that I was also a dictator, like the present one.

“They label me as a dictator not because they are familiar with my behaviour or deeds. They simply repeat the label given me by past writers. They do not conduct their own research as to what I had done to deserve the epithet.”

Mahathir dismissed the label, arguing he could not be one for several reasons.

“Dictators get 99% support if they stand for election, either in their party or in a national election. I never got 99% of the votes in any election.

“The opposition used to get almost a third of the seats, they even manage to capture several states. I also won by a 43-vote margin in Umno’s presidential election, despite 80% of the divisions nominating me as their presidential candidate,” he said referring to the infamous Umno polls in 1987 which saw him defeat Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah by the narrowest of margins.

“Dictators never resign either. They would retain their place until they die. And always they would be succeeded by their sons.”

Referring to the Pakatan Harapan coalition and the close cooperation with his former foes in PKR and DAP, Mahathir also said the fact that such leaders who used to condemn him are now willing to accept him and his party shows he was not a dictator.

“Dictators would have incurred the hatred of the people. They know once they lose power the people would abuse them and punish them.

“However, after I resigned, the people continued to accept and support me. Even opposition parties which used to condemn me have now chosen me as one of their leaders.

“Which dictator has had this experience?”

As if to pre-empt the counter-arguments to his blog post, Mahathir also brought up the usual accusations against him over the jailing of people under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

“Yes, during my time there were people detained under the ISA. But people ignore the fact that I released 21 political detainees upon being made prime minister.

“Those detained under the ISA during my tenure were quickly released because I did not agree with their detention.” The IGP confirmed this.

Ending his blog with three words taken from his favourite song, Frank Sinatra’s My Way, Mahathir simply said: “The record shows, Najib is a dictator, a kleptocratic dictator.”

 

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