KUALA LUMPUR – September 2, 2015: The attendance of elder statesman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the Bersih 4.0 rally last weekend has sparked many theories among Malaysians in the cyberspace.
While some believed that it was a sign that Dr Mahathir is endorsing a total change of government, others were sceptical that the former premier was exploiting the rally to ‘rejuvenate’ Umno and Barisan Nasional.
Anonymous blogger of Din Turtle yesterday warned Umno and BN of the growing support for the opposition parties, especially with Dr Mahathir’s approval of the rally.
“A large number of Malaysians attended the rally and they happened to be voters for the next general election.
“I believe the support for Dr Mahathir is growing after his appearance at the rally. People would listen to what he has to say,” he said.
Din afterwards urged Umno and BN leaders to reflect if the party could retrieve people’s confidence within the next two years and a half before the 14th general election, especially with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak still in power.
“The people are against Najib and not Umno but if he remains in the forefront, Umno would be badly affected,” he added.
Blogger Hanisya Abdul Hamid of the Omak Kau fame on the other hand was sceptical over Dr Mahathir’s true intention for showing up at the rally.
“During his reign as the prime minister, Dr Mahathir was acutely against the culture of street demonstration particularly throughout the Reformasi era of 1998.
“Now, he suddenly made a U-turn and encouraged the rakyat to take their dissatisfaction to the streets in order to revamp the government,” she said.
Hanisya believed that the statesman’s ‘blessing’ for the rally was driven by his own political agenda to seek revenge against Najib.
She was of the opinion that Dr Mahathir was merely exploiting Bersih 4.0 to put more heat on Najib and demand for his resignation.
“He wants Umno and BN to remain in power but not with Najib in the vanguard,” she added.
Senior journalist Datuk Ahirudin Attan who is the proprietor of Rocky’s Bru blog admitted to be taken aback by Dr Mahathir’s move.
“Like most, I was shocked by Dr Mahathir’s decision to join the Bersih 4.0 rally at the Dataran Merdeka because it was so unlike the man I thought I knew.
“For years, he had been consistent in his stand that street demonstrations were not our culture, not the way forward. He even called Bersih supporters ‘keldai’ (mules) and ‘bodoh’ (stupid),” he wrote in a blog posting.
Dr Mahathir however on his blog Chedet.cc yesterday explained the reasons he went to the rally.
“I do not agree with demonstrations as there are other avenues that can be used to pressure the government when there is abuse of power. We can make a police report, hoping the police and the public prosecutor will take action, bringing the accused to court.
“However, Najib had dismantled and destroyed the institutions of government that are tasked with protecting the rights of citizens,” he said.
The former prime minister insisted that he had to join the rally organised by Bersih to ‘get rid of Najib because of corruption’, and appealed to Umno and BN members of Parliament to support a vote of no confidence against the prime minister.
“BN will not fall after Najib is dismissed. BN is still the majority party but as long as Najib remains in authority, that will be for how long there is going to be economic slump, fall in ringgit etc” he said in the posting.
Meanwhile, many, especially those who supported Bersih took to the social media to express appreciation for Dr Mahathir’s turnout at the rally.
Kenton Khor: “I salute you Dr Mahathir for speaking on behalf of us, the rakyat, without fear. I live my younger days with your premiership and even though there might be a few hiccups along the way, you have always loved the country. Thank you for coming and showing your support even at your respected age of 90.”
Melissa Kong: “We salute you Dr Mahathir! Stay healthy! Thank you very much for your support by showing up at the rally. Your presence was greatly needed in this difficult times we Malaysians are facing.”
Navin Gnanaratnam: “All politicians are corrupted no matter if it is the rulers or opposition. No country can escape that. What is important is what you do for the people and nation.
“In that sense, Dr Mahathir was one of the greatest leaders we ever had. He put Malaysia on the map and there was stability in the country. You cannot deny the fact that Malaysia was doing well during his time. But it is time for a change. Let him be one of our voices.”
Despite being rained with cheers and positive reception for joining Bersih, the former prime minister did not escape from his critics too.
Pitt Anderson Lee: “The last time he was the prime minister, he used tear gas and Internal Security Act (ISA) against the protesters. It was Najib who abolished the ISA. Orang Malaysia mudah lupa. (Malaysians are forgetful).”
Jonathan Siow: “Dr Mahathir is a changed man. Can trust him? Better think again. It was him who selected Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib to be the prime ministers. It was also him who wanted them out. Dr Mahathir should just retire in silence for the mistakes he had made.”