Laman Webantu   KM2A1: 4806 File Size: 7.5 Kb *

AWSJ: Mahathir Rebukes Party Members, Foreign Critics
By Leslie Lopez

23/6/2001 5:38 am Sat

[Mahathir menggunakan strategi menuduh dan bayangan ketakutan kununnya parti pembangkang dan reformis ingin mencetus kemusnahan kepada negara. Ini bertujuan agar mereka dicurigai oleh rakyat yang mendengarnya. Ucapan Mahathir itu nampaknya lebih ditujukan kepada pengundi - bukannya pewakilan Umno. Seolah-olah dia sudah kepupusan strategi untuk melawan arus sehingga mengutuk orang tidak tentu hala ke seluruh negara. Tektik sebegini bukan silat anak jantan sebenarnya - tetapi fitnah untuk memutar minda.

Soalnya sekarang apakah tuduhan dan cercaan itu semua formula untuk membaiki Umno yang sudah parah? Tidakkah kegagalan projek penswastaan dan bail-out serta faktor Anwar yang membawa Umno rebah? Bukankah Anwar telah diaib dan dihukum dengan kesaksian yang tidak sah? Mengapa pandangan Islam tidak diambil kira untuk mendakwa Anwar? Apakah yang diperjuangkan oleh Umno sebenarnya? Tidakkan kepupusan Umno bermula selepas Anwar diaib dan dilebamkan tanpa belas dan peri manusia? Siapakah yang memulakan ini semua jika tidak Mahathir jua? Jika tidak betul, orang tidak akan percaya walaupun penuh dengan sandiwara. Mahathir telah melanggar batas orang yang berugama dengan menghukum Anwar. Sekarang terimalah padahnya... orang melayu sudah bertukar selera, kes pengundi hantu sudah terbuka dan kini masyarakat Cina sudah membuka mata bila lidah mereka mahu diputuskan dari berkata-kata.
- Editor

The Asian Wall Street Journal
22nd June 2001

Malaysian Prime Minister Rebukes Party Members, Foreign Critics



KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Turning to their leader for guidance on how to revive the party's flagging fortunes, members of the United Malays National Organization got a tongue lashing instead from Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who criticized Malaysia's ethnic-Malay majority for being ungrateful to his 20-year-old government.

In a two-hour address at UMNO's annual meeting Thursday, Dr. Mahathir chided party members for being complacent and warned that the deep split within the Malay community -- which forms about 60% of Malaysia's population -- could lead to a change in government and the loss of the special privileges Malays currently enjoy. The prime minister also angrily accused unidentified "foreigners" of supporting Malaysian opposition parties in an effort to destabilize his government.

"I was telling them that unless they close ranks and behave themselves, they will lose," he later said at a news conference.

Dr. Mahathir said that affirmative-action programs and policies for Malays -- introduced after ethnic-based riots in 1969 to guarantee them a bigger share of the country's wealth -- would end if opposition parties and foreign interests had their way. Political reforms demanded by opposition parties, which he claimed were backed by foreigners, would mean the end of special privileges for ethnic Malays, Dr. Mahathir said. "Democracy, equal rights, meritocracy, human rights will be used to destroy the special rights of the Malays," he said.

That wasn't exactly the message UMNO members were expecting from their 75-year-old leader. Many UMNO officials say they were hoping that Dr. Mahathir would provide a fresh direction on how he plans to revive UMNO's waning prestige among the Malays, many of whom have abandoned the party since Dr. Mahathir dismissed his former protege and deputy minister, Anwar Ibrahim, in 1998.

Datuk Seri Anwar was subsequently convicted on s###my and corruption charges and is serving a 15-year prison sentence. In Malaysia's last parliamentary election in 1999, a new ethnic Malay-centered party formed around Anwar backers joined forces with the opposition Parti Islam Se-Malaysia, or PAS, a conservative religion-based party, to cut significantly into UMNO's popular support.

Still, few expect Dr. Mahathir's blunt lecture to UMNO members to prompt a backlash against him from delegates at the annual meeting. The delegates will get a chance to air their views before the session ends with a closing address from Dr. Mahathir on Saturday. Some analysts predict their response to Dr. Mahathir's complaints will be relatively mild because the party isn't facing the immediate pressure of a national election. "Mahathir can afford to attack the Malays because this isn't an election year," said one senior UMNO official.

But this UMNO official, echoing a view shared by some other party members, said that the party needs to urgently confront its many problems or risk facing more losses in the next parliamentary election, which the government must call by mid-2004.

The UMNO -- which has led Malaysia since independence in 1957 and is the backbone of Dr. Mahathir's National Front coalition government -- has seen its fortunes ebb in recent years. The party's approval rating, which hit a peak of 87% in the 1995 national elections when it won 89 of the 102 parliamentary seats it contested, slumped to 69% in the November 1999 general elections when it only won 72 of the 104 seats it fought.

But Dr. Mahathir, in his speech, didn't suggest any fresh strategy for arresting the decline. Instead he rebuked ethnic Malays for supporting the PAS, which he said only encouraged the pursuit of Islamic studies at the expense of other forms of knowledge. "If we believe that the other forms of knowledge are not important, it is better for the government not to give places to Malay students in public institutions of higher learning in these subjects," he said.

The prime minister also attacked "foreigners" for allegedly trying to topple his government. "Foreigners who once colonized us, who have done nothing to help us, these foreigners have no good intentions," Dr. Mahathir said. "They hate Malaysia, especially the current leadership, and hate it extremely."

During the nationally televised speech, Dr. Mahathir attacked Malay opposition parties as traitors, berated voters for not supporting UMNO, and accused foreign media, financial traders and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank of trying to destroy Malaysia's economy. The speech was hectoring, and Dr. Mahathir several times referred to those who don't support him as "idiots." He didn't name the nations he said hated Malaysia, but strongly implied that they included the U.S. He said his government was loathed for "exposing their evil intent when it introduced the concept of globalization and a borderless world."

Some UMNO officials were surprised that Dr. Mahathir made no reference to Daim Zainuddin, who resigned recently as finance minister and treasurer of UMNO after a falling out with the premier, his longtime confidant. Some party members thought Dr. Mahathir might blame Tun Daim for some of Malaysia's economic and political problems.

Tun Daim, a controversial figure in the Mahathir administration, has been criticized privately by UMNO members for pushing ahead with several unpopular state-sponsored bailouts of companies such as Renong Bhd., UMNO's former investment arm.