Dr Mahathir Mohamad is not qualified to talk about democracy as he was responsible for destroying the rule of law and independence of the judiciary during his premiership, said Umno minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan today.
Taking to Facebook, Rahman, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department defended Prime Minister Najib Razak, Mahathir’s constant target of criticism of late, arguing that it was Najib who “restored” what Mahathir had “destroyed” when he led the country.
Rahman said it was ironic that the former prime minister’s new allies in the Opposition were rooting for him despite some of them being imprisoned when Mahathir was prime minister.
He cited former law minister Zaid Ibrahim, who now stood firmly by the elder statesman’s side, as once saying that Mahathir’s rule was “authoritarian” in nature and that under him, democracy in Umno had died.
“Fortunately, the independence of the judiciary and rule of law (that Mahathir destroyed) have since been restored. Laws that Dr Mahathir used so extensively to repress opponents, such as the Internal Security Act, have been abolished by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
“The right to protest has been codified into law for the first time under the Peaceful Assembly Act, and Malaysian democracy flourishes in a way that it never did under Dr Mahathir,” said Rahman, who is also Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications Director.
Rahman argued that Mahathir’s current criticism towards Najib stemmed from his being “bitter” about the fate that had befallen his “political failure of a son” (former Kedah MB Mukhriz Mahathir).
“He (Mahathir) is angry that when it comes to democratic elections, he and his allies keep failing. For example, the two recent by-elections and Sarawak’s state election, which Dr Mahathir described as a referendum on the prime minister, saw the people give landslide victories to Barisan Nasional with even greater majorities than before.
“The people are ignoring the sad and increasingly deranged rantings of a bitter old man. After all, why would anyone take lessons on democracy from a self-confessed dictator?” asked Rahman.
Rahman’s attack comes following Mahathir’s recent remark that “as long as Najib remained in power, Malaysia will not be democratic.”
Mahathir had said that it was not uncommon for leaders “who were not successful” or had done “something bad for the country”, to resign – citing Australia’s Tony Abbot and Britain’s David Cameron as examples.