The Star : Friday May 23, 2008
BY MERGAWATI ZULFAKAR
FORMER Umno member Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad continues to be defiant against the party leader in this interview in Tokyo. He reminds Umno of the "Anwar factor" lurking on the sidelines.
Q: After your announcement, there is no mass defection of Umno members? Are you disappointed that there is no "tsunami" of Umno members leaving the party?
A: I think it will take time for them to think because to leave the party is a very serious thing, they have been attached to the party for so long. Unless you get rid of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, at the next election I am sure and I have not been too wrong in my predication, Umnno, Barisan Nasional, MCA, MIC Gerakan will be finished. They will be totally irrelevant.
Q: When you say time, how much time do they need to leave the party? Your announcement came before the branch and division meetings start? Is that the deadline you are hoping to see
A: I know When several members of parliament wanted to have a meeting, Pak lah heard about it and he called them up. Somehow they feel a bit shy to take up the step.People are not given the freedom to voice their true opinion.
Q: One of your sons, Datuk Mokhzani resigned, but Datuk Mukhriz did not, don't you think that your move might have upset some people and they will take it out on Datuk Mukhriz should he go for the Umno youth chief
A:They can take it out on him (Mukhriz). But I think he is not in Umno just to become Ketua Pemuda, he is in Umno because he has to serve the country and people. If he is thinking of about himself of becoming Ketua Pemuda then of course that is selfishness but he has said clearly that he wants Abdullah to resign as soon as possible. If Abdullah resigns, there should not be any problem (for Mukhriz). Others are afraid to say it. Now they are threatening to take action against him in order to threaten other people from doing what from Mukhriz has done.
Q: Umno lawmakers described your move as destablising the government and open up the way for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to form the government
A: Today the Barisan has been destablised by Abdullah not being able to lead it to victory. Barisan in some cases have become irrelevant. Gerakan has become irrelevant, MIC could not win. All this is due to him. He not only destabilised Umno, he destablised component parties and he destablised Barisan Nasional.
Q: But he led Barisan to win the last general election
A: He did not win the way he should win, he talked about sweeping clean, he could not even get two thirds majority. All this while except 1969 when Tunku Abdul Rahman has just less than 2/3 majority, all the elections under different leaders achieved 2/3 majority. Even in 1999 when I was quite unpopular because of Anwar, I still achieved 2/3 majority and I did not lose the states, except for Kelantan and Terengganu.
Q: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has said he is prepared to meet you to review your decision to quit. Would you meet him
A: Yes I will see him but it does not mean that I am going to accept whatever he is going to suggest. I am going to remind him of the role played by his father.
Q: Is there any chance of you meeting Pak Lah
A: I met him before. It doesnt do anything.
Q: You said recently ago that Najib was not allowed to meet you but the meeting eventually took place
A: Yes after I said Najib was not allowed, Pak Lah himself said no he did not stop. But Najib himself told me that he was stopped from seeing me, he told other people also.
Q: When you met Najib was there anything achieved because a few days later that you quit Umno
A: Because I don't see him taking any positive action. Nothing came out of the meeting.
Q: Do you see your move to quit Umno as an opportunity for Anwar to form a government
A: Anwar may try to seize the opportunity but it is up to Barisan MPs. If they switch over to his side, he can be but I am offering an alternative which is less dangerous for Barisan. Instead of jumping to other party, I am telling them you form your own group which will be the determining force in parliament. If pak lah does not go, then he will be in the minority because these people have already left. Then he has to give up being the Prime Minister. If in that case Anwar wants to come in, this group will give support to Barisan and Barisan with a new leader can still go on to become the government.
Q: With you being outside Umno, you will be irrelevant to Umno
A: They can consider me irrelevant. It is their funeral, not mine.
Q: By getting Pak Lah to step down, who do you think will be able to take over
A: Traditionally, it will be Najib, but if Najib does not want and if there are challenges, there will be a struggle between them. If they do that they run the risk of Anwar taking advantage.