Mahathirís staying away from the 12th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Durban reflects an escalation of the political crisis in top government and political leadership


Media  Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Monday):  The staying away of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad from the 12th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Durban, South Africa is very significant, as it reflects an escalation of the political crisis in top government and political leadership in the country, which would have a most deleterious effect on the 14-month-long economic crisis.

Mahathir had always given the highest priority to Non-Aligned Movement summits as well as conferences hosted by South Africaís Nelson Mandela, and when he had to stay away from such important meetings, something very serious is afoot back home.

Mahathir has said that he was very tired as a result of his state-by-state roadshow to explain to the people about the gravity of the economic crisis, which is not very credible - as Mahathirís roadshow was more political than economic in nature, to consolidate his power position in UMNO and government as well as to prepare the ground for early general elections.

The advanced stage in the power tussle in the highest echelons of office in the land seems to be reaching the end-game when the former Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Ghafar Baba,  is given even greater prominence on radio and television  than the incumbent Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, especially in the things which are being said by Ghafar.

For instance, Ghafarís interview over TV3ís Malaysia Hari Ini (MHI) was given prominent coverage by both Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian today. Utusan Malaysia, under the headline, "Ghafar dedah pemimpin jadi tali barut asing", reported:
 

Although Ghafar did not name names, it is quite obvious who is the target of his fury.  Ghafarís TV3 interview has reinforced  recent rumours  that  a very top-ranking political leader  in government would be arrested and charged under the Official Secrets Act

When the Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, can also chime in as to  declare in Penang yesterday that there could only be one leader to guide the country out of the economic doldrums, asserting that "We cannot have too many leaders as that will mean too many policies", it is clear that the "Night of the Long Knives" is not far away.

The national tragedy is that a full eruption of the political crisis in the country would lead to a runaway escalation of the economic crisis with untold damage to the country and people.

(31/8/98)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong