I would like to reproduce what a friend wrote many moons ago about what our beloved Bapak Merdeka Tengku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj really thought of Dr Mahathir.
This piece was written when Dr Mahathir was still flying high as the Number One.
With Merdeka Day almost upon us. I thought it would be a good time to visit the Tengku Abdul Rahman Putra Memorial. The impressive museum, opened in the early 90’s and is just next to Mahathir’s old office at Bukit Perdana. Looking through the exhibits brought back many memories of the grand old man of Malaysian politics. Sad to say, there were only a handful of people there, on a busy weekend too.
In the newspapers today, Badawi was once again defending his boss, trying to convince Malaysians that “Mahathir Is No Dictator.” Incredibly or coincidentally, I came across a 1989 newspaper article at the museum which quoted Tengku as lambasting Mahathir as a dictator! Those who wish to read it better do it fast before Ibrahim Ali gets wind that “seditious” material is on display at a government-funded memorial.
The Tengku was then just months away from his death in 1990. As he puts it so succinctly ” At 86, I should be living quietly but I have to go out and fight them (Mahathir’s government).”
We know that there was no love lost between the Tengku and Mahathir, a star player in the conspiracy to oust Tengku as PM. But those who are fimiliar with the Tengku’s political career will realise that his fight against Mahathir transcended personal animosity. It was based on principles – to restore the democratic institutions which Mahathir has systematically undermined and to save Malaysia from falling under the spell of a defector dictatorship. One has to admire his guts – fighting the dictator to the very end. Ironically, what the Tengku said a decade ago is just as relevant, perhaps even more, today. That can only mean that things have not changed, rather have gotten worse after 10 years of one-man rule.
Okay, here’s the article from The Times (of London I presume, not New Straits Times obviously).
The Times (1989)
“We don’t know how long Mahathir will remain in power, but the havoc he has created among UMNO members has caused a deep and wide split among the Malays.” said Tengku Abdul Rahman.
“As a dictator and leader of a Malay party, Mahathir has amassed the power to do what he likes. To the unthinking Malays, he has accomplished a great act and has made the Malays powerful. With that power, he could become the only person in Malaysia to run the country without fear or favour.
“At the age of 86, I should be living quietly until I die, but I have got to go out and fight them. The only reason they haven’t put me in jail is because I am an old man.”
Tengku Abdul Rahman said Malaysia was at a crossroad. “They Malays had moved too greedily to take over the economic life of the country. The greedy people got too big chested,” he said.
Many of the country’s “half-baked” politicians liked the idea of an omnipotent dictator because it gave them a false sense of importance, he said. “Accordingly to them, the country can go to the dogs. In fact its gone already.”
Tengku Abdul Rahman attacked the Mahathir government for its use of the Internal Security Act. “I introduced it to fight communist. They are using it to put their political opponents in prison and in detention,” he said. Under the Act, 106 politicians and social activists were arrested in late 1987.
He said Malaysia should be ahead of Singapore “by a yard” economically but businesses has been mismanaged. We were sworned to democracy. Unfortunately, when the present Prime Minister took over, he lost the confidence of the people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mahathir, defending his government’s record before leaving for a three-week holiday abroad this weekend, said that fortunately most Malaysians and foreign investors were wise enough to differentiate between truth and lies.