Friday, September 18, 2009
In an interview with Bernama, the 84-year-old statesman showed little mercy in ripping apart his long-time friend, who only yesterday had reiterated his admiration for the former premier.
Mahathir said he was concerned that support for BN would decline in the coming elections because Samy Vellu continued to helm MIC.
The former premier said the 73-year-old MIC president should relinquish his post for his party's failure in the last elections, where Samy Vellu was also defeated in his parliamentary stronghold of Sungai Siput.
"In other countries, when a leader fails, he resigns voluntarily. In Japan, he would commit harakiri (suicide). We are not asking him (Samy Vellu) to commit harakiri.
"You have failed to lead MIC to the point that you lost yourself," he said.
Comparing Samy Vellu to his successor and former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Mahathir said Abdullah had resigned due to his poor performance.
"Samy's performance is worse than Pak Lah (Abdullah), but he still does not want to give up his post," he said, adding: "He should have resigned before things got to this stage."
Mahathir stressed that he had a right to criticise anyone for the sake of BN, and added: "I've criticised Pak Lah, who's Samy Vellu that I cannot criticise?"
The former premier said leaders must realise that the post they held was not for life. "This is not directed at Samy Vellu alone because there are others who are like him," he added.
As for himself, Mahathir said he had wanted to resign in 1998 but because of the economic crisis and the Anwar Ibrahim issue, he had to continue leading the nation until 2003.
"I resigned not when people criticised me. I resigned because I had stayed too long.
"Malaysian leaders still do not understand that when they fail they should resign of their own volition, no need for others to tell them. When you fail, your party fails. You are responsible," he said.
BN leaders should interfere
Asked what BN could do in view of its principle not to interfere in the affairs of component parties, he said when the matter became a problem for BN, the coalition would become the victim if it did not intervene.
He said BN leaders must admonish Samy Vellu because as BN leaders they were responsible not only for the performance of their own parties but also that of BN as a whole.
"If I know that a person will cause BN to lose, that is already a BN problem, no longer a MIC problem. We cannot keep saying don't interfere. This is a BN affair. Because of him, the BN lost.
"Previously there was no Hindraf. Now there are scores (of pressure groups from the Indian community.) It's him that the people don't want but he still wants to be president," he added.
He said leaders who resorted to money, pressure, abuse of power and threats could remain as party presidents but would not win elections.
On Samy Vellu's chosen leaders winning the party elections last week, Mahathir said they could win party elections but would lose in general elections because the people would not support them.
He also criticised Samy Vellu for not playing a role to stop the building of temples without approval despite having promised to do so.
According to Mahathir, Samy Vellu became popular because he (Mahathir) had helped him.
"He wanted to build a university, I persuaded the government to give a RM50 million allocation and I've helped in many more of his projects," he said.
Mahathir said he had to persuade the Malays to allow BN to place MIC candidates in Malay-majority areas because no constituency in the country had an Indian majority.
"Besides that, I also strove to get MIC candidates supported by the Malays. Without support from Umno members and the other Malays, MIC could not win. So that's is my service to MIC.
"But when the MIC does something that will cause it not to be supported by the Indians, Chinese and Malays, I have to criticise," he said.
The garland suggestion came from one M. Sukumaran at the recent MIC General Assembly.
In fact, said Waythamoorthy, he (Mahathir) can even understand the reasons behind the calculated insult.
"Having observed Mahathir ever since I heard him speak at a student function in London in 1989, I know how the man thinks," said Waythamoorthy (right) in a telephone call to Malaysiakini from an undisclosed location outside London where he's based. "When Mahathir says he's not interested in something, I know he means it."
According to this school of thought, Mahathir did not do anything at all for the Indian community during his 22 years as Prime Minister.
Hence, he does not expect Indians to be grateful to him.
"So, if any Indian insults him, he knows that he has to just grin and take it," said Waythamoorthy.
"In fact, he's probably surprised deep down that he has not been insulted at all so far and Samy - MIC President -- instead gets all the blame, a situation he encourages."
'Covering up sins'
The Hindraf Chief notes that Samy has even come under all around fire including Mahathir and Umno for not doing enough for the Indian community "but this is just to cover up their own sins".
"The fact remains that Samy is not the prime minister of Malaysia. If he were, we can blame him for not doing enough or anything for the Indian community," said Waythamoorthy.
"It is Mahathir who should be blamed. He's trying to shift the blame on to Samy. Mahathir failed to be the Prime Minister for all Malaysians. He was more interested in his own petty racist agenda."
So, it's not surprising that someone in MIC suggested a 'garland of slippers' for him, he added.
Waythamoorthy called on the MIC president Samy to stop parroting about Mahathir being a great leader, a great man, a great statesman and a builder of the nation, among others, "since he (Mahathir) didn't do anything at all for the Indian community and in fact set out to hurt them and others as well".
"After all the prime minister is supposed to be the leader for all Malaysians, under the Federal Constitution, not just for some Malaysians."
On Umno's claims that the government had allocated considerable funds for the Indian community but Samy did not pass them to them, Wayathamoorthy wanted the claims to be backed up by facts and figures and other relevant evidence.
Down slippery slope
The first of Mahathir's (left) sins against the Indian community and Malaysians in general, stressed Waythamoorthy, was to distort and deviate from the New Economic Policy (NEP) and introduce racist elements which set the nation on a slippery slope and the Indians among the worst-hit victims.
As an example he cited the withdrawal of recognition for degrees from overseas medical institutions which had a large number of Malaysian Indian students.
He noted that the Special Privileges meant for the Malays, and by extension other natives, only covered four areas intake into the civil service, intake into institutions of higher learning, Government scholarships and opportunities in business.
"The special privileges were only meant to ensure that the Malays and other natives were not left out as the nation developed since there was this fear at independence," said Waythamoorthy. "It is not a carte blanc (blank cheque) to grab the whole pie in the four areas mentioned and other areas as well."
In any case, Waythamoorthy doesn't expect Mahathir to apologise to the Indian community for past hurts and sleights "although time is running out for him".
Similarly, he does not expect Mahathir to apologise to his former heir apparent, Anwar Ibrahim, for doing everything possible to destroy not only his political career but the man himself.
"Samy himself has labelled Mahathir as the destroyer of deputies," said Waythamoorthy. Even Anwar has said he cannot forget although he has forgiven."
Mahathir is more concerned about Umno leaders insulting or humiliating him and getting away with it.
In short, that's why Mahathir is using the "garland of slippers" insult as an excuse to name all those who had insulted or humiliated him in the past and are still walking around Scott-free.
His suggestion that he would not hesitate to drop them from the Federal Cabinet if he had his way, suggested Waythamoorthy, was a strong hint for Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak "to do what is necessary to avenge his hurt pride".