Biographer: Dr M targeted Pak Lah for refusing to keep Anwar jailed
(MMO) – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad initiated his campaign against Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi over the latter’s refusal to intervene in the judiciary’s decision to release Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from prison, according to the fifth prime minister’s biography.
In his campaign against Abdullah, Dr Mahathir had accused his former deputy of various transgressions including corruption.
But Abdullah’s biographer, Datuk Wong Sulong, quoted Umno “insiders” as saying the decision not to interfere in Anwar’s case was the true reason why Dr Mahathir had sought to remove the man he handpicked as his successor.
“What really incensed Mahathir was Abdullah’s decision not to intervene in the Federal Court’s decision to quash the sodomy conviction against Anwar. Had Abdullah set Mahathir’s nemesis free to haunt him?” read the biography Being Abdullah Ahmad Badawi — The Authorised Biography released yesterday.
“Umno insiders say, far more than any other issues, Abdullah’s refusal to intervene in the judicial process to stop the release of Anwar was the real reason why Mahathir decided that Abdullah had to be removed.”
Dr Mahathir began attacking Abdullah’s administration in 2006 and at one point quit Umno, insisting that he would not return to the party as long as Abdullah remained PM and Umno president.
“By launching his fierce attacks against Abdullah a year before the country’s 50th year of independence, (Mahathir) ensured that Abdullah would not be able to bask in the glow of nationhood and prosperity and ride on this feel good factor to call a general election and secure a second term,” the author said.
Abdullah eventually resigned in 2009 after consistent pressure by Dr Mahathir and also other Umno leaders.
Dr Mahathir sacked Anwar as his deputy in 1998 and accused the latter of sodomy and corruption.
Anwar was later convicted of both, before he was released in 2004 and had his sodomy conviction overturned.
Following his release, Anwar led a resurgent Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition in denying Barisan Nasional a two-thirds majority for the first time in 2008.
Dr Mahathir is currently waging another campaign against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, ostensibly over the handling of state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
But he has since been accused of seeking to remove Najib in order to install his own son as prime minister.
Dr Mahathir has also sought to enlist the support of former nemesis Anwar for his campaign against Najib, recently claiming to have “buried the hatchet” with the man he had vilified since 1998.