INTERVIEW The Citizens’ Declaration signing last Friday set tongues a-wagging when former political foes Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Lim Kit Siang sat together at the same table.
While united by a common goal to oust Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, many wondered how the two could even stand each other after decades of fighting.
After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Lim blamed the former premier for all that is wrong in Malaysia.
Malaysiakini spoke to the DAP supremo about the controversy behind this new alliance, and this is what he had to say.
Q: Didn’t you have any doubts about working with Mahathir?
Our differences are very clear, it’s on public record. He has said things about me, I’ve said things about him. What I’ve said is a matter of public record, there’s nothing for me to withdraw.
But what is important now is the present and the future.
There’s nothing we can do to undo the past but what we can do is ensure the future is secure so if everybody coming together can contribute to this objectives, then it’s one step forward.
Q: So you trust him?
We are working together, although our objective and how far it will go, I think nobody can predict the future, and I think it is foolhardy to predict the future.
As of now… the national situation calls for everybody to be on the same page, as long as we are on the same page (then) there is a future.
Q: Comparing the past with now, all the scandals Mahathir faced, everything he did to institutions, what’s the different?
All that I will say is there’s no doubt about the past, about Mahathir’s role. I don’t dispute the views that Najib won’t be what he is today because of the past
But the question today is that we must deal with the present.
Q: You’ve said that Mahathir is the cause of all these problems, shouldn’t he be held accountable?
As far as my views of Mahathir and his contribution to the present, (that) is on record, but there’s no need for me to repeat it.
But anybody who can come around and contribute towards a cure, to cure the situation has a role to play.
Of course, there’s the other position that there’s no role whatsoever for those who had contributed to the current national malaise, that is not my position.
Q: You whacked Mahathir, Ling Liong Sik, Muhyiddin for decades, how do you feel about working with them now?
(We should) not allow the past to block us from focusing on the present and the future.
If we can secure the future for the country with everybody else’s contribution, I think it should be welcome.
Q: So forget about everything?
No, that’s a separate matter. I don’t think we should put that on the same position
We’re talking about the now, and we go from there. And in the process, we must begin to also undo the excesses and wrongs of the past.
Q: Should Mahathir apologise for his mistakes?
Those are different views, I leave it to everyone to express their views.
I think that’s what’s important is that we move on, I don’t want to say yes or no.
Q: How do you convince DAP members and supporters angry at Mahathir to support the declaration?
We have to explain (the reasons) to them. (Their unhappiness is) understandable, I’m not surprised, but then I think what’s important is the sincerity and the basis on which we approach this problem.
It is understandable for those, who for a long period of time had identified some as the (cause of) problems, they need a bit more time to adjust to understand the reasons and the rationale for it.
Q: Isn’t the opposition concerned that working with Mahathir would push away supporters?
The fundamental thing is why do they support the opposition? They want change, they want an end to all the injustices and all the corruption in the country.
And so long as they are convinced that those objectives remain unchanged, (they will support us).
What we are seeing is the tactical and strategic developments, but the final position is the same, and it is from our sense of love and patriotism to the country.
Q: You believe Mahathir still has influence, on who exactly? Malays? Umno?
I think both, in all aspects. Everybody has something to contribute unless he is a total non-entity who has no contribution, which I don’t think he is.
Although he is much more diminished than what he was when he was PM, he still has a contribution to make.
Of course, his past is there, we can’t write off the past and we don’t write off the past, but what is very important from now is the future.
I was very attracted to a tweet by lawyer Syahredzan Johan that Winston Churchil and Franklin D Roosevelt worked with Joseph Stalin to fight Adolf Hitler.
We’re talking about the bigger picture here, look at the situation when the Kuomintang and the communist (China) felt there was a larger enemy in the Japanese (during World War 2)
Or even Nelson Mandela, who must be prepared for the bigger picture (during South Africa’s fight against apartheid).
What is very clear is all those who come together are compelled by the same concern of a need to rise above our respective differences for our national goal.
But as to how sustainable or how viable it is, and whether we will lose our way, only time will tell.
I think it’s a valiant effort and deserves the support of patriotic Malaysians. It’s not going to be a certain victory, but I think its certainly deserving of support. – Malaysiakini