There is no evidence to show that this is an oppressive government which needs to be overthrown through extre-legal means, says the former premier.
PETALING JAYA: Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad sees no reason to topple the government through extra-legal means.
Apart from the alleged police brutality during the Bersih 3.0 rally, he said there was no other evidence of government oppression which warranted a recreation of the Arab Spring on Malaysian soil.
“Do innocent people get arrested, incarcerated, tortured or disappear as in many authoritarian countries and even in the US? No, people in Malaysia do not fear arbitrary arrests,” he said.
Mahathir said as far as elections were concerned, it was possible for the opposition to defeat the government as illustrated in the last general election.
“It is true that the same party won all the elections at the federal level and formed the government but the support was not consistent. In 1969, the party almost lost.
“Although in 2004 the party won 90% of the seats, in 2008 the party won with only a small majority. Certainly the ruling party never won with 99% of the votes that happens in dictatorships,” he added.
On the issue of freedom of expression and press freedom, he argued that Malaysia fared better than many other countries.
“Read the vernacular papers and listen to the racist and provocative speeches at opposition meetings. The Malaysian press is freer than in most developing countries,” he said.
Acknowledging that there were accusations of corruption against government leaders, Mahathir said that there was no public agitation to charge them in court even after they had retired.
“I appreciate that it is difficult to get evidence of corruption. I am sure that if there is (evidence), the people would agitate for action to be taken by the government against retired leaders,” he added.
The former premier noted that the current administration had also repealed the draconian Internal Security Act, and similarly other so-called oppresive laws were amended or abolised.
He also argued that the rapid development and increasing prosperity of the people were the result of government policies and actions.
The hard talking 84-year-old doctor was Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister to date with an equally long list of allegations stacked against him.
During his 22-year tenure until 2003, critics accused him of among others jailing dissidents in the pretext of national security, subduing the media and judiciary, practicing nepotism and cronyism as well as being responsible for the rot in the police force and other enforcement agencies.
‘They wanted mayhem’
Continuing with his post-mortem on the Bersih 3.0 rally, Mahathir claimed that those behind it wanted the mayhem.
He said the protest was actually intended to show police brutality and oppression of the people by the government.
“Some of the organisers wanted to justify to the world their need for extra-legal means to overthrow the government,” he added.
Referring to the authorities offering Stadium Merdeka for Bersih to hold the rally, Mahathir said the organisers turned it down because it would not suit their agenda.
“A quiet and peaceful demo in a stadium would not create the impression of police brutality or government oppression. And so they insisted on holding their demo at Dataran Merdeka, where the British flag was lowered and the Malaysian flag hauled up to mark independence,” he said.
The next step in the plan, according to Mahathir, was to ensure that chaos reigned on the streets.
“Then of course the police must be provoked so that they would use force against the demonstrators. Video clips showed clearly that the demonstrators, apparently of a signal from Anwar Ibrahim, broke the barriers. Then they clearly attacked the police, pushing and breaking the windshield and overturning the police car,” he added in a blog posting.
Defending the police admist criticisims of excessive force used on April 28, Mahathir said if the police used force it was because they were provoked, beaten up and had to defend themselves.
“When outnumbered, as they were during the Bersih demo despite being armed, the police must fear bodily harm to themselves. People in a crowd invariably feel daring and would do what they would not do when alone or outnumbered. They also know the police had been instructed not to use their arms or undue force,” he added.