TUN MAHATHIR MOHAMAD – Other controversies

Mahathirism Mahathirism is a pejorative term used by Malaysians to describe the policies and methods used by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad to maintain his political power. [1]

Mahathirism has been critically defined as a “Machiavellian ploy to exploit race and religion for financial gain and power.”

Mahathirism has further been described as “a symbol of the dominance of one person whose political life-history revolves around acquiring, maintaining, sustaining, consolidating, and homogenizing total power through a clever crafting of a succession of hegemonic formations; it rests on the philosophy of ‘we versus them’, the dichotomization of political forces, and on the practices of a more sophisticated version of the colonialist divide, conquer and rule strategy. [60]


Former Malaysia Airlines chief executive officer, Tajudin Ramli claimed that he (Tajudin) was “forced” to buy out the shares of Malaysia Airlines by Mahathir during a period when the national carrier suffered financial difficulties. However, Mahathir denied this claim and said that he only asked if Tajudin was interested in the shares.[61]

In 2006 he had a 2-hour talk with James W. Walter and William Rodriguez with regards to the US Government involvement in the 9/11 attacks.[62] He urged the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims to boycott Dutch products following the release of the anti-Islam movie Fitna by the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, it was reported on 30 March 2008.[63]

On 17 January 2008, Mahathir was brought before a Royal Commission that is looking into alleged manipulation of top judicial appointments during his administration, a scandal that has cast doubts about the independence of Malaysia’s judiciary. He was made to testify before a government inquiry into a secretly recorded video clip that showed a man believed to be a prominent lawyer, V.K. Lingam, boasting that he could get key judicial appointments made with Mahathir’s help. Throughout the inquiry Mahathir feign ignorance and forgot key timelines.[64] The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam video clip finally found that it was former Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim who was talking to prominent lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam on the telephone. Sources said the five-man panel also found that the video clip was authentic and that the conversation was true in substance. They said the commission also found that it was lawyer Loh Mui Fah who Lingam was speaking to after his telephone conversation with Fairuz. Commission chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor presented a two-volume report on the findings to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin at the Istana Negara here yesterday.[65] The Cabinet has ordered the attorney-general to immediately direct agencies to investigate on allegations levelled against six prominent individuals identified in the Lingam video clip. The six are former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, retired chief justices Tun Mohd Eusoff Chin and Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan and prominent lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam.[66]

Justice Datuk Ian Chin revealed that he received threats from a former prime minister in two cases he presided in Sibu in 1997. One being a libel suit and the other on an election petition matter.[67] One was a judgment on a libel case involving MGG Pillai and Tan Sri Vincent Tan where he refused to give what he considered to be an astronomical award. The other judgment was in an election petition on Bukit Bangunan in the Sri Aman Division that he ruled in favour of Independent candidate Donald Lawan against Barisan Nasional candidate Mong Dagang. He also claimed that he and selected judges were sent to a boot camp to ensure they got the message.[68] However, Mahathir has sinced rebuked Justice Ian Chin’s allegations in his blog. [3]

A retired Federal Court judge, Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin has alleged that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had wanted to amend Article 121 of the Federal Constitution because he wanted the judiciary to be under his control. He mentioned that Dr Mahathir’s agenda was tied to the Umno 11 case involving then Umno vice-president Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah whose supporters had challenged his post as Umno president.[69]

Many commentators are critical of Mahathir’s perceived corruption, particularly because of his penchant for megaprojects and his policies aimed at creating a class of Malay capitalists. However, former de facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim writes in his memoirs: “In my heart, I cannot accept allegations that Dr Mahathir personally was a corrupt man. Corrupt people are never brave enough to speak as loudly as Dr Mahathir. Wealth is not a major motivation for him. He only craves power.”


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