With continued attacks on all sides against Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for his talks of the revival of the much-alienated goods and services tax (GST) and for giving the ruling coalition a bad name on the purportedly ‘rushed’ manifesto, a veteran Justice Party member renewed his lashing remarks against the oldest PM in the world.
The Pakatan Harapan veteran is now accusing Dr Mahathir of cronyism and authoritarianism.
Justice Party founding member Syed Husin Ali said the PM is favouring his children and a few tycoons including Syed Mokhtar Albukhary and a former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin in business deals.
He asked whether Dr Mahathir is pushing Malaysia towards a form of “Kleptocratic Cronyism” adding that there is much evidence of wealth being accumulated by Mahathir’s family and his former cronies.
Syed Mokhtar is now the Rupert Murdoch of Malaysia after a buying spree of shares in several media groups while Daim is acting as an adviser to the PM in some external deals and was instrumental in the renegotiations with China over the East Coast Rail Link.
The veteran politician made the accusations in an interview with Malaysiakini.
Syed Husin said Dr Mahathir is reverting to his old brand of authoritarianism and sounded a warning that Malaysia could be on the road towards “kleptocratic cronyism”.
“Mahathir has become the old Mahathir, especially in the past few months. Old Mahathir means he is dictatorial or authoritarian,” Syed Husin said.
He alleged there was evidence that enormous wealth was being accumulated by Dr Mahathir’s children and cronies.
“Many companies and projects have been handed to his cronies, especially (Council of Eminent Persons chairman) Daim Zainuddin, (business tycoon) Syed Mokhtar Albukhary as well as his children,” he said.
He also warned that power could be addictive, especially when it allowed a person to enrich himself, his family and friends.
Last week, Syed Husin said there are doubts Dr Mahathir will hand over power to Anwar Ibrahim, the president of the Justice Party.
“Mahathir… sometimes he says this, other times he says that. I cannot hold him to his word,” says Syed Husin. Mahathir recently said he would step down in three years at most but Syed Husin is not impressed.
Syed Husin says Mahathir would make decisions with the leadership but would end up doing something else. “And then he would say he forgot,” said Syed Husin, who is deputy chairman of PKR’s advisory council.
According to Syed Husin, Anwar should be given the chance to be PM before the next general elections to allow him to set his priorities and consolidate his power. “At least (give him) two years to arrange all kinds of plans and campaigns,” he said.