KUALA LUMPUR: Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad agreed in his latest blog posting that loyalty was essential if an organisation was to function. However, when a leader deviates or commits a crime, continuing to be loyal to him was wrong.
In fact, he added, it’s the duty of loyal followers to advise and even criticize such a leader.
“If the leader fails to heed the advice, they should stop being loyal to him.”
Mahathir said that he never behaved like Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak who demoted, removed and expelled leaders for even mildly questioning him about the 1MDB.
During the campaign for President and Deputy President (1987), many of the Ministers and Deputy Ministers were against him, pointed out Mahathir. They included Abdullah Badawi, Rais Yatim, Syed Hamid Albar and Kadir Sheikh Fadzir.
The record will show that he re-appointed them as Ministers, continued Mahathir. He even chose Abdullah Badawi as Deputy Prime Minister after Anwar Ibrahim. “Is this how a man who cannot tolerate disloyalty treats people who were obviously disloyal to him?”
The party and the electorate could overthrow him any time, he recalled. “Elections to the Supreme Council were held regularly.”
“I led the party to victory with 2/3rd majority in five General Elections. I did not use money. No BR1M. The voters decided based on their perception.”
If former Deputy Prime Minister Musa Hitam wants to speak frankly, he argued, then cite known events or refer to documents, including to news reports at the time. “Yes, I did call Mohamed Rahmat ‘Mat Bulat’ because he was stout.”
Mahathir said that he did not mind people calling him “bomoh”. “I thought it was a friendly reference to my profession.”
Musa’s book “Frankly Speaking” makes interesting reading, said the former Prime Minister, but speaking frankly does not mean speaking truthfully. “When talking of things which happened 30 to 40 years ago, the accuracy of incidents and conversations is affected by the current situation.”
Mahathir thinks that “Frankly Speaking” seeks to blame him for everything that happened in Umno and the government over the years. “Musa naturally does not blame himself for anything.”
“He’s as innocent as a newborn child. That explains why he’s so popular.”
Musa came to see him to seek his support for his bid for the Deputy Presidency against Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, he recalled. “I am prepared to swear on the Quran.”
He referred to Sanusi Junid saying that the latter was asked to campaign for Musa against Razaleigh. “I may have.”
However, he cannot remember AIDS (Anwar Ibrahim, Daim, Sanusi) trying to bring down Musa. “Zainuddin Maidin, editor of Utusan may remember. I wonder if Utusan carried out an investigation. It often reports hearsay.”
The fact is that Musa was unhappy that Razaleigh was retained in the Cabinet, disclosed Mahathir.
Also, stressed the former Prime Minister, it was the Supreme Council which persuaded Musa to withdraw his resignations. “He agreed to return only as Deputy President. I had no choice but to appoint Ghafar Baba as Deputy Prime Minister.”
Later, said Mahathir, Musa was to show even greater disloyalty. “He went to Davos in Switzerland to see Razaleigh, his arch rival, to persuade him to contest for Presidency of the party.”
Musa’s assertion now that he would not be in Razaleigh’s Cabinet was something new, stressed Mahathir. “It’s absurd.”
“I appointed him as special envoy to the United Nations with ministerial rank. Does this make me sound like a man who cannot and could not tolerate anything but absolute personal loyalty as alleged by Musa.”