(Port Klang, Wednesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad made unusually forthright statements on the police assault of the former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim while in police custody in the very inner sanctum of the police high command when he was in London last Saturday.
He told Malaysian students that those responsible for injuring Anwar while under police custody would not be protected by the Government and would get the punishment deserved.
He said: "I want to know who did this because the person who did it has done a disservice to the country, the police force and me.
"Because of what he has done, the attention has been diverted from Anwar’s crime to the question of who gave him a black eye. It is not something that I wanted to happen and I want to find out who did this thing," he said in response to a question from a Malaysian student at a meeting at Malaysia Hall in London.
According to Monday’s New Straits Times, when he was later asked by a British journalist to comment whether there was any truth to claims that the former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Rahim Noor was involved in the incident, Mahathir said:
"I can’t say anything. I have no right to say because I have no evidence myself. But if the Commission of Inquiry finds it is so, then it is so."
Asked what would happen if this was true, Mahathir replied the law would take its course.
On whether he would give his support to clear the name of the former
IGP, he said: "I don’t support anything that I don’t know about. If
he is wrong, he is wrong. If he is right, he is right. And I will support
him if he is right. I will not support him if he is wrong. It is not an
unusual stand to take."
When Mahathir said in London that the person responsible for Anwar’s black eye had done a disservice to the country, the police force and to him, it was four months too late.
Why didn’t Mahathir take this proper position right from the beginning when Anwar shocked the world when he first surfaced in public ten days after detention with a black eye and other injuries?
Instead Mahathir cynically made the preposterous suggestion that Anwar’s "black eye" could have been self-inflicted so that Anwar could "receive much mileage" if he could show that he had been "tortured" by police.
As a result, Anwar’s "black eye" became contagious and became transformed into a "black eye" for Mahathir as well as for Malaysia!
The least Mahathir should do is to publicly apologise for his baseless and unwarranted suggestion that Anwar’s "black eye" could be self-inflicted - and he should also explain why he could have made such an outrageous statement and who was responsible for putting the idea to him.
What I find very disturbing in Mahathir’s remarks in London was his reference to Anwar’s "crime" when he said attention was being diverted by the "black eye" episode, disregarding the fact that it is not for the Prime Minister but the courts to decide whether Anwar had committed any crime. Or is the Prime Minister sending a clear message to the courts as to how he view the charges which the prosecution had preferred against Anwar - and if so, this is another unacceptable interference with the independence of the judiciary in Malaysia!