Mahathir claims Anwar stifling public discourse on 3Rs

The former prime minister says Anwar Ibrahim’s tenure is marked by intolerance, with police arresting anyone speaking on issues related to race, religion and royalty.

(FMT) – Dr Mahathir Mohamad today criticised Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim for allegedly stifling public discourse on sensitive issues related to race, religion and royalty (3Rs).

The former prime minister claimed that Anwar’s tenure had been marked by intolerance for public discussions concerning sensitive issues surrounding 3Rs, adding that the problem had been worsened by the threat of police action on those who touched on such matters.

“We can’t talk about it (3Rs) at all. Speak up, and the police will arrest you. They can take action and handcuff people for talking about 3Rs,” Mahathir said during a podcast hosted by former law minister Zaid Ibrahim.

Anwar has repeatedly stressed that action would be taken against anyone playing up sensitive 3R issues, including those from political parties. He said there were boundaries when it came to media freedom, particularly on topics concerning 3Rs.

Mahathir also criticised Anwar for his frequent announcements of major investments into Malaysia during his visits abroad, claiming that these had not translated into actual benefits for the people and that there had been no visible impact on the country’s economy.

“When he goes on visits, he supposedly attracts billions (of ringgit) in investment. If he has truly attracted billions (of ringgit) in investment, Malaysia would be a developed country by now.

“There should be many job opportunities, a lot of tax revenue, and the government would be rich. But they are just announcements and memorandums of understanding, not actual investment,” Mahathir said.

Today’s comments from the 98-year-old Mahathir marks the latest chapter in a decades-old rivalry between the ex-prime minister and his former deputy. The conflict between the duo first started when Mahathir accused then finance minister Anwar of being unable to handle the Asian financial crisis that Malaysia was facing in the late 1990s.

While Mahathir and Anwar had made up before the 2018 general election and worked together when Pakatan Harapan (PH) was in power, their relationship eventually soured again after the fall of the PH government.

Before the toppling of the PH government in February 2020, Mahathir had repeatedly promised to hand over the top post to Anwar, who was regarded by PH supporters as their prime minister-designate.