QUICK TAKE: There are no permanent enemies or friends in politics. How true is that adage, even more so when it concerns two Malaysian political giants.
We all know there is no love lost between Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim. But time heals.
Anwar, who was sacked as deputy prime minister by Dr Mahathir in 1998, said he was concerned over police investigations against his former boss who was questioned by police on Nov 6 for criminal defamation over his statements about 1MDB and Najib Razak.
In a message from jail yesterday, Anwar said that Mahathir did nothing wrong in asking questions and criticising the prime minister over debt-ridden 1MDB.
“I am gravely concerned by the news that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the subject of a police investigation for criminal defamation and was questioned by the police on Nov 6,” Anwar, who is serving a sentence for a second sodomy conviction, said in a statement issued through his lawyers.
According to a Malaysian Insider report, Anwar said that “Mahathir committed no crime when he asked questions and voiced criticism against the prime minister on the 1MDB crisis.”
“If this is how Tun Dr Mahathir is treated, the democratic right of ordinary Malaysians to question and criticise the government is in serious jeopardy,” Anwar said.
“Our constitution and the democratic rights therein guaranteed to our people must not be disregarded or interfered with by government or enforcement agencies. I have watched with increasing concern the worsening strain of authoritarianism by those in power.”
Instead of investigating Dr Mahathir, Anwar said Najib and the government should answer the questions he had raised – the same ones being asked by ordinary Malaysians.
“This heavy-handed response will only worsen the crisis of confidence in the PM, the government and institutions involved in trying to silence critics.
“I call for an end to this harassment against Dr Mahathir and all others, who have merely done their duty by our country by voicing out against the errors and wrongdoings of the government and its leaders,” Anwar added.
There is no doubt that Anwar did the right thing by defending Mahathir against the authorities who are now harassing the elder statesman, allegedly at the behest of Najib.
Indeed Anwar is right – all the questions and demands from Mahathir are what ordinary Malaysians are also asking and demanding. If the police have to haul in Mahathir, then hundreds of thousands of other Malaysians should also be called up for investigation.
For the moment, many Malaysians are somewhat consoled that Anwar has spoken up for Mahathir because it is the right and honourable thing to do, friend or foe aside.
Where it matters most, and for the sake of the nation and people, Anwar has proven that he is able to put political differences aside and lend a helping hand, even to a former political foe. – The Ant Daily