By IZATUN SHARI
KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is prepared to be investigated by a full and formal public inquiry if Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim were to become the Prime Minister. However, the former premier said he hoped that those who sit on the board of inquiry would be neutral, impartial and probably foreigners.
“He’s (Anwar’s) welcome to do that if he becomes the Prime Minister of Malaysia, but if he wins members of the ruling party to his side it is the present leader who should be blamed because he can’t even get the loyalty of his own members,” he said during a 30-minute interview on the BBC World News HARDtalk programme with Stephen Sackur.
He was asked to respond to Anwar’s statement that he would call for a full and public inquiry into Dr Mahathir’s misdeeds if Anwar were to become the Prime Minister. Asked whether he was ready to express regret over what he did to Anwar now that he has retired for several years, Dr Mahathir said:
“Why should I regret? He was arrested under the laws of the country. He was tried in the courts of the country. Sentenced by court. If he was not wrong, no matter what you think about our judiciary, I don’t think he would have been sent to prison.” On Anwar saying that he would push politics that were not racially defined, Dr Mahathir said that it was opportunism for Anwar, who was now out of the government but never did anything when he was in the government.
Asked about Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s conciliatory gesture of offering monetary compensation to judges who were suspended during the 1988 judicial crisis, he said:
“Fine, but it’s a political strategy by a man who is very unpopular at the moment wanting to show that he’s going to do something right.”“Nobody can say anything against him. Newspapers report about how great he is. His own supporters misled him into believing that if he holds elections before the end of his term, he would win a clean sweep. If you look at the record of his statements, he said he would win with zero opposition.”
On claims that his criticisms against Abdullah over the last few years had brought his successor down, he said: “I don’t see why I should not criticise wrongdoings by him.”
On why he picked Abdullah to replace him as Prime Minister, he said Abdullah was known as “Mr Clean”.
To a question about some of those with Umno blaming Dr Mahathir for tearing down the party, he said that sometimes it might be necessary to do so.
“I’m a doctor; if one leg is becoming gangrenous I remove it,” he said. (The Star, Apr 22, 2008)