Commenting on the exposure by the former Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib that several opposition leaders had been awarded land by the state during his tenure, Mahathir said on Saturday:
“From the onset, these people had plans to join opposition parties, but while still in service, including as imams, they kept this information to themselves because they wanted to secure certain privileges and land.
“This culture is most despicable. It is like biting the hand that feeds you.”
This allegation of ingratitude levelled by the Prime Minister is most inappropriate and a total misconception of the duties of a government in a democratic society based on the concept that “it is the people who are the boss” - where if there is any “biting of hand”, it is the government leaders “biting the hands” of the people (the boss) in their breach of trust and abuse of power rather than the boss (the people) biting the hands of the servants (the government leaders and officials).
Muhammad said he was willing to reveal the full list of people who had received land during his 11-year tenure as Selangor Mentri Besar. He said these people, including the PAS vice president and Selangor Assemblyman for Sungai Burung Datuk Dr. Hassan Ali and PAS state assemblyman for Gombak Setia Datuk Ismail Kamus, were awarded land because the state believed they could make a major contribution towards the community, especially the Malays.
Are Mahathir and Muhammad seriously suggesting that there is explicit or implicit condition that those who had been awarded land in Selangor are forever bonded and enslaved to the policies of the ruling parties at the time, regardless of its abuses of power, corruption and utter disregard of the interests of the people?
If so, then land and government privileges are being disbursed to buy the “soul” of the people to ensure their slavish bondage to the government leaders, however corrupt, decadent or immoral they might be - which is itself a gross abuse of power and grave corruption offences which should be investigated by the Anti-Corruption Agency.
If the UMNO and Barisan Nasional government believe in accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance, it should make public the full list of all politicians, whether Barisan Nasional, Barisan Alternative or DAP who have been awarded land in Selangor since Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib became Mentri Besar to prove that there had been no abuses of power in deviating from the criteria for such awards applicable to all and not to use the issue as an instrument of political blackmail.
In fact, the full list of beneficiaries who had been awarded land in Selangor under the past three Mentri Besars, whether politician or otherwise, should be made public - and and authorities msut be prepared to answer any public inquiry about the propriety of any particular award.
Malaysians can still remember that in the UMNO General Assembly in June 1998, Mahathir Mohamad released a list of names of those awarded privatised projects - involving 171 companies which included the names of major shareholders and those connected to party and government leaders and 114 companies which had been offered privatised projects in principle.
But this was done not because of any commitment to the principles of accountability, transparency and good governance but as part of the UMNO power struggle between the Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim forces for the leadership of UMNO and government.
This was why there was no response to the DAP call for a full and not selective release of the names of all those awarded privatised projects as well as the full list of beneficiaries of awards of approved permits (APs), licences and shares to rebut allegations of KKN - corruption, cronyism and nepotism - in Malaysia.