LAWYER and former minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has predicted that the vociferous attacks on former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad from all sides will not stop before the state election season is over.
The former de facto law minister said the 97-year-old Dr Mahathir has become an election fodder for the “desperate people” who were afraid of his influence.
“For heaven’s sake, why is he not allowed to give his opinion without being lynched just because you disagree with him?” Zaid said in a lengthy tweet yesterday evening (July 6).
“If The Bar Council, which promotes the concept of ‘hate crimes’ has its way, Dr M’s statement will probably fall under the definition.
“There seems to be a new philosophy in town in which views inconsistent with the current regime are not permitted. They can be prosecuted for crimes.”
Zaid was responding to news of Dr Mahathir claiming on Monday (July 3) that promoting Malaysia as a multiracial country is against the Federal Constitution.
“He is neither a party leader, a candidate for the election nor a leader of any group vying for political power. Yet how many news portals are up in arms against this old man?” he asked.
Zaid was however quick to point out that he was not representing Dr Mahathir in “any shape, form or capacity”, adding that the last time he had met the veteran politician in person was in 2018 after Dr Mahathir became prime minister for the second time at his office in Putrajaya.
“He called me, only to tell me he was happy for the help I gave during the 2018 general election. He also said he was not able to give me any position. I replied that I was not expecting any position and ended the meeting with a thank you,” he recalled.
“But I know his thinking well enough to defend him at times. He is not a lawyer, and when he says it’s ‘unconstitutional’ (referring to Dr Mahathir’s tweet) he does not mean it’s illegal or against the laws of the land to describe Malaysia as multicultural.
“He surely recognizes the provisions in the [Federal] Constitution. The rights of all citizens are guaranteed. He did not dispute this. He is not a stupid man.”
Zaid reckoned that Dr Mahathir was alluding to the primacy of “Malayness” as a national identity of Malaysia and its precursor Tanah Melayu, in addition to the primacy of Bahasa Melayu, the Malay customs and traditions, the Raja-raja Melayu (Malay monarchs), and the special place of Islam being attributes of the nation that makes the country “Malay”.
“He and many Malays are proud people who want to preserve this Malay identity without reneging on the provisions of the rights of all citizens,” Zahid opined.
In calling the Malays “generous people”, Zaid also noted the race has been accommodating and accepting of all the communities that had descended onto the shores of this country for the past 700 years.
“They are not about to change to become people who ‘hate others’ or are ‘war-like. But don’t try and tell them that they are not to have a view about what this country means to them,” Zahid stated.
“Let’s say Dr Mahathir is wrong in his understanding of the national identity and constitutional framework [but] does he deserve to be maligned to such an extent?” – July 7, 2023