Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Tun Dr Mahathir @ BBC World’s Mishal Hussein ~ "MY ONLY MISTAKE IN 22 YEAR WAS TO CHOOSE THIS MAN!"

Source from malaysiakini

Dr Mahathir Mohamad was interviewed by BBC World’s Mishal Hussein in London where the 83-year-old former premier was grilled on his legacy. The following is an abstract of the five-minute interview.

Mishal Hussein: One of Mr Badawi’s fiercest critics was his predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad who was in power for 22 years. Dr Mahathir is here in London for a conference on the Palestinians and he is with me now in the studio. Welcome to the programme. I wonder first if I can ask what went wrong as far as Mr Badawi is concerned because this is a man that you groomed to take over from you but then you didn’t like what you saw.

Mahathir: Well, he did all the things that were wrong. In the first place, he brought in his family and involved them not only in party business but also government business. His main advisors are members of his family and the group of young people appointed by his son-in-law.

Mishal Hussein: But family involvement in Malaysian politics - dynastic politics - is nothing new. Your son has contested for a position within UMNO. You’re quite disappointed, weren’t you, when he didn’t actually get elected.

Mahathir: He got into UMNO - in active politics - only after I left, (from) becoming the prime minister. That was the condition. I told my children that they are not to be involved in party politics or politics in general until I have stepped down because I don’t want people to talk about my rising dynasty.

Mishal Hussein: But you would like to see the Mahathir name continue.

Mahathir: Well, if he deserves it, why not?

Mishal Hussein: All right, let’s talk about the man who is going to be the next prime minister, Najib Razak - also someone that you know well. What do you think of him? Would he be a good PM?

Mahathir: Well, his record shows that he is a good administrator but he has certain weaknesses and because of that we cannot really be very sure whether he would be able to handle the problems faced by the party and the government.

Mishal Hussein: It is not very encouraging, is it? I mean, this is the next leader from your party.

Mahathir: Yes, it is true. He is from my party. At least, he was from my party because I’m not a member now. But I want to say what I think is the truth. I don’t care who gets hurt, even my own party if it gets hurt, but if the correction has to be made, I will make the comments.

Mishal Hussein: I raise this because there seems to be a pattern of you grooming people, hand-picking them even. Anwar Ibrahim was one, Abdullah Badawi was another. Najib Razak to some extent is the third. And once they get close to power, or into power, you attack them.

Mahathir: No, I didn’t groom them. I had no choice but to choose one of them to be my deputy and they didn’t prove to be able to handle this, and I have to take action against them.

Mishal Hussein: Well, if you are so critical of the leaders that UMNO has produced, is it time for a change then? Perhaps this isn’t the party that should dominate Malaysia as it has done since independence.

Mahathir: The party essentially is a very good party. It has functioned very well for 50 years and now we find under the leadership of Abdullah, the party has really become rotten, (it) has not been able to win the usual results that we have had in the past elections.

Mishal Hussein: So everything went wrong when you stepped down, is that right?

Mahathir: No, everything went wrong when Abdullah took over.

Mishal Hussein: Which is about the same period of time.

Mahathir: It is not the same because it could have been somebody else. Najib was actually the senior vice-president. He should have been designated the new prime minister after me but I thought he was young and I thought I will give Abdullah to assume, hold, some opportunity to lead the country.

Mishal Hussein: Let’s look at some criticisms of UMNO though. It’s been called corrupt. It’s been called detached from the people. Abdullah Badawi even said it is complacent. It is facing death. I mean these are the kinds of thing that don’t happen to a party overnight. Isn’t there anything that you would take responsibility for? You led the party for 22 years.

Mahathir: I led this party for 22 years. I never failed to get the support of the people in any election. I invariably get two-thirds majority. The first time we did not get two-thirds majority was after five years of Abdullah’s administration.

Mishal Hussein: Did you make any mistakes in those 22 years?

Mahathir:The mistake that I made was to choose this man.

Mishal Hussein:That was the only mistake that you made in those 22 years in power?

Mahathir:Yes, because immediately after I stepped down, the party won with an overwhelming majority. If I had left a party which is bad, they would never have won in 2004 with such a huge majority.

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