Sunday, February 15, 2009


As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at Che Det on February 15, 2009 12:46 PM

1. Someone drew my attention to an article in a business weekly pullout recently. It is about a book on his father, Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman by the Tun's eldest son, Tawfik Ismail.

2. In the interview Tawfik took the opportunity to make out what a monster I was.

3. I quote below extracts of what he said happened when he was dropped as a Member of Parliament in 1990.

4. Tawfik explains; "Mahathir called me into his office before the election. I was with my journalist friends when he called, so they started joking that I was going to be a deputy minister. Sorry to disappoint them...I went to see Mahathir and the first thing he said was, "You know not every son can be like his father", Tawfik recalls, "I thought to myself, 'bloody insult'". Then he continued, "All of my backbenchers have to be people who stand up when I walk in, thump the table and say, Long Live Mahathir! And my Ministers are not supposed to think for themselves. I think and they do what I want them to do."

5. "I'm thinking this man does not have a high opinion of his Ministers. He actually says, I don't want intelligent, honest, hardworking people in politics. People like you should be in business."

6. I hope Tawfik had a clear conscience whe he said all these. I cannot imagine myself saying that "my backbenchers have to be people who stand up when I walk in, thump the table and say Long Live Mahathir!"

7. People did stand up when I walk in, but that is common politeness in Malaysia. I stood up when the Tunku or Tun Razak or Hussein Onn came into a room where I and others were. But when I was Prime Minister nobody ever thumped the table and say "Long Live Mahathir!"

8. As to saying to Tawfik, "my Ministers are not supposed to think for themselves. I think and they do what I want them to do."

9. This is sheer fabrication. No Prime Minister ever called in a candidate to tell him that he would be made a deputy minister or minister when he wins an election. I had never talked about reshuffling nor about the quality of the ministers to be appointed.

10. I think it would be difficult for people to remember Tawfik and what he stood for. His performance as an UMNO backbencher was not in any way remarkable. He was not even an ordinary member of UMNO's Supreme Council. Even at division level he did not shine.

11. He was picked to be a candidate two times. His name was proposed by Johor UMNO, I think. I had no problems approving his candidature. As the son of a much respected UMNO Leader, he was naturally regarded as qualified. But he did not distinguish himself in any other way. I don't know whether he was a youth leader or not. Certainly he performed no exploits in the youth or in the UMNO hierarchy.

12. On the basis of his lacklustre performance I did not consider him to be good material to lead UMNO.

13. I don't know whether anyone has noticed that I frequently reappointed for the Cabinet people who had openly tried to bring me down. Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, Syed Hamid Albar, Rais Yatim, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi were all supporters of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in the contest for President of UMNO. Yet they were all reappointed as Ministers. I don't remember whether they stood up and shouted "Long Live Mahathir!" or not but I think they did stand up together with others when I came into the room where they were. One even became my anointed successor to the Presidency of the party and Prime Minister.

14. When something does not happen, people would not even notice it. Yet far from asking people to shout "Long Live Mahathir!", the first thing I did when I became Minister of Education was to tell my staff that the practice of giving the Minister's name to schools is to be stopped forthwith. There should also be no pictures of the Minister displayed prominently in the schools and offices. Today there is nothing named after me except an orchid flower. I had rejected all requests for naming anything after me. I never liked personality cults.

15. Some UMNO members who attended the Annual General Assembly might remember my asking them not to praise me. Muslims must know that all praise be to Allah. But they still called me "the beloved one" etc. But people now know how many of my former ministers bad mouthed me after I stepped down.

16. Tawfik says that, "I don't want intelligent, honest, hardworking people in politics. People like you (i.e. being intelligent, honest and hardworking) should be in business."

17. He calls this a backhanded compliment. In effect he was complimenting himself by repeating this. I don't think I ever said this about him. Politicians and businessmen can all have the same qualifications.

18. The plea that he had no capital to go into business does not jive with his bitterness over what he alleged I said. Was he really thinking that I would give him the capital?

19. Tawfik said he felt I had not given him time to mull over what I said and he thought, "What could I say to him that would buy him time to mull over it".

20. He ended up asking about Datuk Shahrir Samad and I spoke for 40-minutes. That's an unduly long time for me to speak about anyone to him. Apparently he was not listening as he was taking notes! Of what?

21. His parting shot was meant to hurt my feelings. He said, "Datuk Seri, the best years of my life in politics were when I was fighting you". He then smiled and felt good doing it.

22. I was not aware that he was fighting me. Even if he was he should have noticed that I am not vengeful and was ready to accept those who fought against me as my ministers. In fact I named one of them as my successor.

23. He must have wanted to say all these things in public all this while. The interview on his biography of his father gave him that opportunity.

24. If people want to believe that I am the kind of person who gets a kick out of forcing people to respect me, they can believe it. Those who know me well would probably doubt the truth of what Tawfik said. I don't expect they would vouch for me. But that is alright. My conscience is clear.