Mahathir ‘owns up’ to Musa’s assertion of him as ‘dictator’


KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he is fine with his one-time deputy, Musa Hitam, claiming that he was a “dictator” during his 22 years as prime minister of the country.

In his latest blog entry, laced with his trademark sarcasm, Mahathir made the “admission”, adding that members of the Umno Supreme Council and Cabinet preferred to remain “quite dumb”, choosing only to agree with everything he said.

“Of course I was a dictator for 22 years, requiring everyone to be absolutely loyal to me. The Majlis Tertinggi of Umno and the Cabinet were quite dumb as I was the only one to speak. They merely nod their heads and shout yes,” he wrote.

Mahathir made these remarks after reading “out of curiosity” Musa’s book entitled “Frankly Speaking”.

He also said despite the label “dictator”, he was re-elected time and again as prime minister of the country and that just like other dictators the world knows, he resigned of his own accord.

“Incidentally, I would like to point out that all dictators, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin, resigned voluntarily like I did. The mystery was how I managed to be elected five times. But now we know that elected Prime Ministers can also be dictators. There really was no mystery.”

He also touched on the two letters Musa wrote him in 1984 regarding the appointment of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah as Minister of Trade and Industry, both of which he reproduced in his blog, saying, “I agree that Musa’s resignation had nothing to do with Tengku Razaleigh. To prove this I append two letters written by Musa to me about his support for the appointment of TR as Minister of Trade and Industry.

“I cannot uphold his (Musa’s) desire for secrecy as he speaks frankly, implying he has nothing to hide.”

In the first letter, dated July 5, 1984, Musa writes with a “very heavy heart and the greatest of reluctance” that he thought Mahathir was merely testing Tengku Razaleigh with the ministerial appointment.

Besides a laundry list of “implications” should Tengku Razaleigh accept the post, Musa also said: “Assuming that you go ahead with the appointment, I would have to review my own plans in a much hastier manner, which I would like to discuss with you after the announcement.”

In the second letter dated July 31, 1984, Musa writes to Mahathir informing him of his “retirement” from the post of deputy prime minister from August 1, 1985.

Taking a swipe at Musa by referencing the two letters, Mahathir said: “It is a pity. If I had been defeated by TR, we would be able to see the close friendly relations between TR and Musa in the Government.

“The country would probably become fully developed by 2000 or earlier. We missed a great opportunity.”