He said every consideration was given to their rights even though action should have been taken earlier.
He said: "But the fact is they broke the law. I donít see why Opposition members who break the law should not face the consequences."
Mahathirís statement in the interview has destroyed the myth which he had studiously nurtured in the past that the Attorney-General is completely independent in the prosecution of Opposition politicians and that he as Prime Minister was never involved or even consulted in such decisions.
This is precisely why there is such a fundamental crisis of confidence in the office of the Attorney-General and the administration of justice because of the long catalogue of selective prosecutions in the past few years.
Mahathirís claim that "this Government does not spare itself or members of the Government from the due process of the law" and that "In the past, we have arrested our own Ministers and even charged and sentenced one to death" cannot stand up to scrutiny.
Firstly, there had not been a single Minister who had been charged, let alone sentenced to death, during the close to 19 years that Mahathir had been Prime Minister of Malaysia.
The example of the one Minister charged and sentenced to death belonged to the pre-Mahathir era, when there was a different Attorney-General and completely different judiciary - and when there was greater public confidence in the sytem of justice because the Prime Minister and the government of the day had higher regard for the rule of law, the concepts of justice and the independence of the judiciary.
How can Mahathir claim that the government "does not spare itself or members of the Government from the due process of the law" when Cabinet Ministers and influential personalities are protected from prosecution despite the recommendations of both the Anti-Corruption Agency and the Prosecution Division of the Attorney-Generalís Chambers, as highlighted by the four police reports lodged by former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim backed up with documentary proofs?
Mahathirís views in his interview with Manichi Daily News is typical Mahathirism, but what is sad and ominous is that he is clearly not prepared to heed the demands for justice, rule of law, political and economic reforms which caused the unprecedented electoral setbacks suffered by UMNO in the recent general election and start the process of national reconciliation by loosening the authoritarian and undemocratic style of governance.
It is going to be a long dark night for democracy during Mahathirís last term as Prime Minister.