Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Monday, 6th April 2009:
Crowning of Mahathir as eminence grise in Najib premiership and formal burial of the Abdullah legacy in Umno/BN
Many Malaysians must have very mixed thoughts about Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s appearance at the Bukit Gantang by-election hustings this morning and in particular at the 90-minute live telecast by TV1 of the entire event.The first thought is that the Najib premiership has made no real difference with the continued unchecked and blatant abuse of government power and resources for Umno and Barisan Nasional purposes, the shocking lack of integrity in the inability of those in power to make the important distinctions between government, party and self which is the root cause of rampant corruption and abuses of power in a government dominated by Umno hegemony. How can a government channel, TV1, give a live telecast to what is clearly a by-election campaigning by Umno/Barisan Nasional? TV1 is no different from RTM1, what it was known previously, which I had described as Radio/Television Mahathir in the 22-year Mahathir administration. However, what must have occurred to many who happened to watch the live telecast was that they were not just watching Mahathir campaigning for Umno/BN in Bukit Gantang by-election after rejoining Umno, but a “coronation” of Mahathir as the eminence grise in the Najib premiership and the formal burial of the Abdullah legacy in Umno and Barisan Nasional! These events happened quickly within 10 days of Najib taking over as the Umno President from Abdullah. In his farewell winding-up speech as Umno President on the last day of the recent Umno General Assembly, Abdullah announced that he will see the Yang di Pertuan Agong to submit his resignation as Prime Minister. On the 5th day, Abdullah had his last Cabinet meeting. On the 6th day, Abdullah submitted his resignation as Prime Minister to the Yang di Pertuan Agong. On the 7th day, Datuk Seri Najib Razak was sworn in as the sixth Prime Minister. On the 8th day, Najib had a two-hour meeting with Mahathir who rejoined Umno. On the 10th day this morning, Mahathir was “crowned” as the eminence grise of the Najib premiership, marking the return of both Mahathir and Mahathirism, with the former Prime Minister taking his position as the most powerful adviser and decision-maker who operates unofficially! This morning’s event at Simpang in Bukit Gantang parliamentary constituency also marks the formal burial of whatever there is left of the Abdullah legacy in Umno and Barisan Nasional! This was why Mahathir’s “coronation” as the eminence grise of the Najib premiership was given such importance, not only telecast live for 90 minutes, but attended by heavy-weight Cabinet Ministers, including the Deputy Prime Minister-in-waiting, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, and Najib’s right-hand man, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who scored the highest votes as Umno Vice President in the recent Umno party elections. With Zahid standing next to Mahathir on the stage throughout Mahathir’s speech, leading the applause and clappings, who would have believed that it was none other than Zahid who had led the revolt against Mahathir a decade ago in the June 1998 Umno Youth General Assembly where Zahid used his position as Umno Youth leader to denounce Mahathir for KKN – corruption, cronyism and nepotism. This shook up Mahathir as the KKN slogan had caused the downfall of President Suharto of Indonesia and the emergence of Indonesia reformasi. Zahid’s denunciation of KKN was seen as an attempt to use the slogan to trigger the toppling of Mahathir as Prime Minister – which led to the sacking from office and persecution of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the kangaroo trials and subsequent incarceration in Sungei Buloh Prison. Zahid was detained for a week under the Internal Security Act but was completely “turned over” to become today one of the high priests for the return of Mahathirism in Malaysian government and politics. Sad and pathetic that the Abdullah memory and legacy have been so summarily kicked aside for the “coronation” marking the triumphant return of Mahathir and Mahathirism in ten days of Najib premiership.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor