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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
The Asian Wall Street Journal
Malaysian Prime Minister Rebukes Party Members, Foreign Critics
By LESLIE LOPEZ
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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
"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.