August 30, 2015
COMMENT: I cannot understand why Malaysians who were at Bersih 4.0 last night and this afternoon are excited at the sight of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in their midst. I am glad that my wife Dr. Kamsiah and I missed him on both occasions. We both feel that the former autocrat is not interested in electoral reform, democracy, human rights and good governance. He has a different agenda, which is basically to protect his legacy and UMNO Baru which he created after UMNO was outlawed.
Tun Dr. Mahathir has always been an astute politician of the Machiavellian mould with a Master Yoda touch. He said he came to Bersih 4.0 to support the people, not Bersih’s struggle which goes beyond the removal of Najib as Prime Minister.
I want to remind him that Bersih is a people’s movement for political change. Bersih 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 were all about people power against the corruption, electoral politics, and abuses of power of the UMNO-BN clique.
Both Ambiga and Maria Chin and their associates have not changed Bersih’s mission. Bersih 4.0 is continuation of our fight for free and fair elections. Since Najib is a major obstacle to electoral reform, Bersih 4.0 is also about asking him to step down as Prime Minister on grounds of corruption and abuses of power and mismanagement of our economy. Tun Dr. Mahathir’s presence at Bersih 4.0 is not a good move since he has exploited rally to serve his self-interest.–Din Merican
Mahathir: I’m here for the people
by FMT Reporters
Najib’s arch-critic captures attention with sensational second appearance at KL protest rally
Dr Mahathir Mohamad made a sensational second appearance at the Bersih protest rally today, this time accompanied by former law minister Zaid Ibrahim, as he took advantage of the huge turnout to press his year-long campaign to force UMNO President and Prime Minister Najib Razak out of office.
Speaking to reporters at Central Market, the former Prime Minister remarked that it was his first time at a street rally and reiterated that he had come in support of the people, and not Bersih.
He said the people had no other choice but to take to the streets – a position in marked contrast to his position during his 22 years in power when he cracked down hard on opposition and demonstrations, and was responsible for Operation Lalang (1987) in which more than 100 were detained under the Internal Security Act.
Dr Mahathir said Najib had closed off all other avenues for the people to make their voices known and gave as examples the popular uprisings that led to the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines.
He had made similar remarks at a public forum in Johor yesterday at which he had said that this weekend’s rally, in which tens of thousands of people had peacefully occupied the streets of central Kuala Lumpur, was different from previous Bersih rallies.
“This Bersih is not the same as Ambiga’s Bersih,” he had said. “This one is about the people, about people power, where the people must take to the streets because they have no other choice, Najib has closed down all other avenues.”
His reference to Ambiga Sreenevasan was to the Berish rally of 2012 which was put down with tear gas and water cannons, when some rally-goers were reported to have attempted to take down barricades around Dataran Merdeka, and opposition politicians were accused of having hijacked the demonstrations.
A few hours after his Johor appearance, Dr Mahathir and his wife Dr. Siti Hasmah turned up outside Kuala Lumpur City Hall, and were mobbed by enthusiastic rally-goers. He said little last night, except to encourage them to carry on, “teruskan, teruskan”.
At today’s media conference, he once again made a careful distinction between Bersih itself, and the rally proper, to keep at arms-length any association with the political parties and politicians who have dominated at previous street rallies.
“I’m here not because I support Bersih but because I support the people. We are not here because we hate UMNO or Barisan Nasional. We just don’t want a Prime Minister like him (Najib Razak),” Dr Mahathir said.
He reiterated his support for a confidence motion to be brought against Najib in Parliament, in order to remove him from office. “We cannot allow this man to abuse his position as Prime Minister. We should move a motion of no confidence in Parliament,” Dr Mahathir said.
Opposition politicians such as Lim Kit Siang as well as Zaid Ibrahim have campaigned for a new political alignment across the parliamentary aisle, for like-minded MPs to come together and form a new transitional government for political reforms in the two years before the next general election.
Zaid has also championed UMNO veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah as the People’s PM to replace Najib after a confidence motion. However, on Saturday, Tengku Razaleigh announced that he would not seek re-election after nine successive terms as MP for Gua Musang.
In the 1980s Tengku Razaleigh led a challenge to Dr Mahathir as UMNO President and came within 41 votes of ousting him. The power struggle led to UMNO’s deregistration, the formation of a new party with a similar name, and years of what many regarded as iron-fisted rule by Dr Mahathir.
The former premier made no mention of past events but accused Najib of having abused his power as Prime Minister and said: “We cannot allow this man to make use of his election as an MP to be the prime minister and abuse the power”. In order for Najib to be removed, “the people must show the people’s power”, he said.
He brought up questions regarding the controversial 1Malaysia Development Bhd as well as a reported US$700m million deposit in Najib’s private bank accounts, and accused Najib of having stayed in power by buying support.
“He has told me that cash is king. If you give money to people, they will support you,” Dr Mahathir said, and disparaged Najib’s explanation that the money in his account was a donation from the Middle East.
“No Arab would give that amount of money to anyone. It doesn’t make sense,” he said.