Mahathir should set the example to end the politics and culture of hatred by withdrawing all charges against Anwar Ibrahim, Karpal Singh, Marina Yusuf, Mohamed  Ezam and other Opposition activists as well as restoring  Lim Guan Engís civil and political rights to start the process of national reconciliation in the new millennium

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad slammed Opposition leaders for promoting a "culture of hatred" against Government leaders in his speech to Malaysian students at Malaysia Hall in London yesterday.

Bernama reported that "the feelings of hatred towards certain people  instilled in the minds of Malaysians right from kindergarten to university was  making them unable to think for themselves".

He said:  "At the kindergarten, they are taught to hate certain people, told to spit and  step on the pictures of certain people.

"This sticks with them until they reach university where they are again  incited to hate certain quarters. They can no longer think.

"They close their ears, close their eyes and close their minds and refuse to listen, to analyse and seek the truth".

The mass media reports of Mahathirís speech to Malaysian students in London yesterday makes very sad reading, for it is clear that Malaysians cannot look forward to political and economic reforms so long as Mahathir is Prime Minister when he could believe that the reason why UMNO suffered its greatest electoral defeat in the recent general election is because there is a new generation of Malaysians who are no better than robots, who cannot think for themselves because "They close their ears, close their eyes and close their minds and refuse to listen, to analyse and seek the truth".

In the last general election, the Barisan Nasional secured only some 56 per cent of the national votes cast, although it won a disproportionate 75 per cent of the parliamentary seats in winning 148 out of  193 parliamentary seats.  UMNO would have suffered an even  worse defeat if 680,000 new voters, mostly from the young generation had not been disenfranchised and denied the right to vote in the dirtiest general election in the nationís history.

When Mahathir  attributes UMNOís worst electoral result in its party history where it lost the support of some 55 to 60 per cent of the Malay electorate to the Barisan Alternative as because of the inability of the Malay voters to think and having "closed minds", is Mahathir sending out the message that   there could be no hope for political and economic reform and change  so long as he remains as Prime Minister?

This has reinforced my statement three weeks ago that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah appears to be the only UMNO leader who had not misread the recent  election results when he said that what the people want is not just physical development but also freedom and expressed his reservations against the crackdown against fundamental rights and democratic freedoms both inside UMNO and in the country.

On Saturday, after his lunch with French  President Jacques Chirac at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Mahathir spoke to the press and reiterated that he was not convinced that the  effect of globalisation was going to be good for everyone.

He deplored the international condition where "detractors of globalisation" would be looked upon as "recalcitrant" and "heretic".

I agree with Mahathir that there is a need to study globalisation further to ensure that it does not end up as "gobble-lisation" of the small institutions, companies and countries by the mega multi-national corporations.

But is Mahathir aware of the irony that while he complained that "detractors" of globalisation would be looked upon as "recalcitrant" and "heretic" in the international arena,  detractors of Mahathirís economic and political polices in the country are not only looked upon as "recalcitrant" and "heretic" but penalised and victimised under the various draconian laws in the land?

In fact, both in Paris and in his London House speech, he sought to justify the recent crackdown against "political detractors" with the charging of of DAP Deputy Chairman and former five-term MP for Jelutong Karpal Singh, Parti Keadilan Nasional  Vice President Marina Yusoff, KeADILan Youth chief Mohamed  Ezam Mohd Noor, Harakah editor  Zulkifly Sulong and Harakah printer Cheah Lim Thye under the Sedition Act or Official Secrets Act.

In Paris, Mahathir told reporters  that some government  ministers had been sentenced - but he did not clarify that all such instances took place before he became Prime Minister in 1981, and he had not been able to reply to serious charges that he had not allowed Ministers to be prosecuted for  corruption despite recommendations by the Anti-Corruption Agency.

In London, Mahathir denied selective prosecution and claimed that in Malaysia, the law applied equally to everybody.  This is another disturbing evidence that the Prime Minister is very cut off from reality in not knowing that the failure of the government to apply the law equally to everybody is a fundamental cause for the worst crisis of confidence in the system of justice in Malaysia.

I find his remark against Karpal Singh, that the five-term DAP MP and one of the foremost constitutional and human rights lawyers in the country, "should have been charged long time ago"  as he had "said a lot of nasty things against us" as the best evidence that Mahathir is practising the politics of hatred, spite, bias and vendetta!

I understand that Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullahís contract of service as Attorney-General has been extended to well over his 55-year retirement age.  Are we going to see the Attorney-Generalís office conducting a major exercise to arrest and prosecute Opposition leaders to fulfil Mahathirís belief that they should have been charged a long time ago for saying so many "nasty things against us".

Mahathir sought to simplify demands for reform by declaring that  he himself was all for changes but changes must be for the  better, and alleged that "their (Opposition's) idea of reform is--'I hate you, I hate you, I hate you; you must go'".

I have a lot of differences with Mahathir, but I feel sad that he seems to be suffering from a serious deterioration in his intellectual arguments and political grasp of realities that he could make such an outrageous simplification of the insistent cries for reforms, whether by Barisan Alternative parties but also by Malaysians, particularly the new young generation.

In fact, I feel bold to say that the cries of reform, both political and economic, are not confined to the body politic at large in Malaysia, but are also be found among the UMNO rank-and-file and the question is when the UMNO leadership is going to hear  these yearnings for reform by dismantling the undemocratic Stalinist features in UMNO, such as the UMNO Supreme Councilís "no contest" decision for the two top party posts.

Mahathir should seriously consider what he should do in his last term as Prime Minister, whether there is going to be even more cronyism, abuses of power, mega projects, suppression of democratic rights and fundamental freedoms or start on a new page of political and economic reforms  in Malaysia to effect a national reconciliation and a paradigm shift where politics are no more dominated by primordial issues of race and religion but issues-centred on questions of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

If Mahathir really wants to see the end of the politics and culture of hatred, then he must take the lead. He should set the example to end the politics and culture of hatred by withdrawing all charges against Anwar Ibrahim, Karpal Singh, Marina Yusuf, Mohamed  Ezam and other Opposition activists as well as restoring  Lim Guan Engís civil and political rights to start the process of national reconciliation in the new millennium.

Bernama reported that there was a stir  in London Hall when a woman, in emotion-filled voice,  identified herself as Umi Hafilda Ali and  took the microphone and swore that the contents of her letter about the  alleged wrongdoings of Anwar Ibrahim  were true.

This is another cause for sadness at the Prime Ministerís speech to Malaysian students in Malaysia Hall in London   yesterday.

(31/1/2000)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman