Attendance at Bersih 4 doesn’t erase Dr M’s past sins, observers say

Dr Azmi-Sharom

(Malay Mail Online) – Newfound admirers of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad following his attendance at Bersih 4 last month should remember his role in creating the environment that prompted the rally to demand the prime minister’s resignation, a forum here heard today.

Speaking at the Malaysian Freedom Summit 2015, Universiti Malaya law professor Dr Azmi Sharom (pic) said he could not comprehend how Dr Mahathir was being regarded as a hero given the latter’s responsibility in dismantling the country’s institutions.

“We are in this situation because of Mahathir. Who destroyed our judiciary? Who scared and intimidated the media? Who destroyed democratic institutions like the Attorney-General’s Chambers? It was all Mahathir. But out of nowhere he has suddenly become a hero,” he said.

“He went to Bersih 4 twice, and that was only for a few minutes.”

Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah, who was also a panellist, said that while she appreciated Dr Mahathir’s presence during the Bersih rally, it did not change her opinion of him.

Bersih 2.0 declined to allow Dr Mahathir to take the stage during the overnight rally for political reforms and to demand Datuk Seri Najib Razak resign as prime minister, despite his shared goal of ousting Najib from office.

“Thank you (Dr Mahathir) very much for coming. But we will not forget that we landed where we are because of him,” she said.

“The centralisation of the federal power, that is something that was inherited from Mahathir, where the prime minister also holds the post of finance minister. Let us not forget about that.”

A third panellist, Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh concurred, and added that Dr Mahathir was responsible for instilling a culture of fear in Malaysia.

“For him to become a hero overnight just because he attended the Bersih rally, I think it certainly does not justify the culture of fear he created in this country,” he said.

Dr Mahathir had made an appearance on the first day of Bersih 4 last month, saying he was only there to have a look.

He returned the second day, though did not participate in the rally, choosing to hold a press conference at a nearby restaurant instead.

He expressed that he was not there to support all of the rally’s demands, but only to demand that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak resign.

A police report was lodged soon after against the former Prime Minister for his attendance by a non-governmental organisation.

Days later, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar announced that the police were investigating Dr Mahathir for allegedly defaming Umno during the event.