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Reuters: No-one shaking Mahathir's tree after Daim's fall
By Simon Cameron-Moore

25/6/2001 6:22 am Mon

[Umno sudah semakin karam tetapi kepada musuh pula dilepaskan geram sedangkan semua yang lantang sudahpun dipenjarakan tanpa bukti dan tanpa perbicaraan. Apakah kesalahan pembangkang sehingga begitu kuat dikecam? Padahal banyak hakim sudah berada di dalam tangan. Malah memberi kesaksian pun Mahathir sudah jauh lari lintang-pukang. Ini adalah sikap sikaki temberang.

Tiada sesiapa pun ahli Umno mempersoalkan kepincangan Mahathir sedangkan semuanya sudah terang lagi benderang. Mereka masih mengangguk lagi walaupun diaib dan dicela oleh presiden sendiri sebagai punca kekalahan parti. Padahal Mahathirlah punca Umno berpecah sampai lebih empat kali dan kali ini orang melayu sudah tidak dapat melupakan jenayahnya lagi walaupun Anwar cuba dilupai dengan serangan yang tidak henti. Yang lupa cuma orang Umno kerana Tunku sudah lama melabel Mahathir sebagai 'batu api'. Jika tidak takkan peristiwa 13 Mei terjadi. - Editor] pi_news_id=783238&pi_ctry=my&pi_lang=en

No-one shaking Mahathir's tree after Daim's fall

By Simon Cameron-Moore

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - There is a Malay proverb "A fruit when it is ripe will fall by itself".

No one at the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) annual assembly, which ended on Saturday, shook Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's tree.

The 75-year-old prime minister's UMNO party won less than half the Malay vote in the 1999 election, as the Islamic opposition capitalised on public distaste over the humiliation of Mahathir's jailed rival, Anwar Ibrahim.

And there is recurrent speculation how long Mahathir, who has run the country for 20 years, can carry on.

But if UMNO needed change the fall guy appears to have been Mahathir's long-time confidant, Daim Zainuddin, who resigned on June 1 without explanation.

On sale at the UMNO headquarters during the three-day party conference was an unofficial biography of the man who until three weeks ago had been regarded as Malaysia's economic Tsar.

Its title "Diam, Diam, Daim" translates as "Hush, Hush, Daim".

"We Malays are very good at killing dead bodies," one former cabinet member told Reuters, laughing at the speed with which the book had appeared.

Its cover depicted the diminutive ex-minister behind bars, an image redolent of his predecessor at the Finance Ministry, Anwar, who is serving 15 years for sex and graft crimes he says were cooked up to forestall a challenge to Mahathir.

Both the prime minister and his deputy, Abdullah Badawi, this week repeated denials that there were any plans to investigate Daim, after a swirl of speculation over the past few weeks.

Mahathir said Daim quit of his own volition and he had no fight with the man who served his as economic adviser and finance minister twice.

But there was no lamenting the departure of Daim, whose last year in office was clouded, despite the economy's bounce back, by some controversial bail-outs for politically-connected tycoons Halim Saad and Tajudin Ramli, popularly known as "Daim's Boys".

During his trials, Anwar, whose sacking and humiliation remains the greatest source of division among Malays, accused Daim of being a prime mover in a conspiracy to frame him -- a charge the authorities have rejected.

Malays make up 55 percent of Malaysia's 23 million people.


UMNO Secretary General, and Information Minister Khalil Yaakob, in his opening address to the assembly gave a one-line thank you to the absent Daim for his services to UMNO. There was barely another mention of the ex-minister for next three days.

"He was never an important part of the party, he was an important part of the government. Now that he's gone, hopefuly the prime minister can change, not direction, but strategy," a member of UMNO's Supreme Council commented.

"I think we will see some drastic changes and action from him (Mahathir) to correct the situation in the party," said Siti Zaharah Sulaiman, a one-time Anwar ally who is now National Unity and Social Development Minister.

If the Daim's exit caused consternation among the party faithful, Mahathir gave them more think about -- notably the inroads made by the Islamic opposition.

"The PM has been very clever by switching the party's attention to the next election from petty things," the ex-cabinet minister said.

The themes were vintage Mahathir, but the tone of his message were harsh even by the feisty premier's standards.

The Malays are lazy, they haven't seized or appreciated the chances given to them. The Islamic opposition misuses religion and teaches children to hate UMNO. Anwar's Reformasi activists are rabble-rousing scum. The foreign media misreports, and the West hates Malaysia for standing up for the developing world and puts it in the same bracket as Islamic terrorist states.


Most UMNO delegates nodded in agreement. They think the "Old Man", as he's called, is still right after 20 years in power.

But there were grumbles that Mahathir had nothing new to say to convince fence-sitting Malays to support UMNO again.

"He keeps on repeating the same old stories," said one delegate, a Kuala Lumpur businessman. "I think the problem is he's just been around too long. All around him he has 'yes men' who will say what the media is expected to report."

The nearest anyone came to challenging Mahathir openly was when Bahirah Tajul Aris slipped through security at the assembly's opening ceremony to hand him a petition calling for her husband's release.

Ezam Mohd Nor has been locked up without trial for up to two years, along with five other Anwar supporters, accused of planning violent street protests to bring down the government.

Mahathir nodded, smiled and pocketed the petition.