KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is now accusing his long-time arch nemesis Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of teaming up with PAS’s Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat to overthrow the present government through “Bersih-type violent demonstrations”.
The country’s longest serving prime minister predicted doom for Malaysia should this alleged attempt succeed, telling citizens that they could then “kiss goodbye peace, stability and economic growth in this beloved country”.
Dr Mahathir’s remarks, made in a blog posting yesterday, appears in tandem with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s claim that Bersih 3.0 was not merely a movement to demand clean elections but an attempt to overthrow the current government.
But Dr Mahathir, who has issued repeated warnings that foreign powers plan on affecting a regime change in Malaysia, went a step further than Najib by suggesting the union between Anwar and the elderly Kelantan Mentri Besar Nik Aziz.
“This possibility is not far-fetched,” he warned. “The average Malaysian always think what happens in other countries will not happen here.”
“But the Bersih 3 demonstration shows it can happen here.”
He alleged that Nik Aziz, in seeing how anti-government protests in Arab countries had successfully toppled administrations, has now declared that overthrowing governments through demonstrations is “halal”.
“Obviously, PAS is already contemplating Bersih-type violent demonstrations as a way of seizing power if it loses the 13th general election.
“The country will then suffer from violent demonstrations frequently. This will affect business and growth,” he said.
Dr Mahathir went on to claim that it was commonly known that it was Anwar who has organised “almost every demonstration” in Malaysia, appearing to disagree with the federal opposition’s repeated denials that Bersih 3.0 was a purely apolitical movement.
“Now, he (Anwar) is teaming up with Nik Aziz. Both see much to be gained by seizing power through unconstitutional means,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also predicted that in the leaders’ grand plans to seize power, the foreign media would be co-opted to “paint as black a picture as possible” of the people’s opposition to the present government.
Support from foreign governments and non-governmental organisations, he added, would pour in, much like it purportedly had in the Arab uprisings.
“Their agendas would be different but they would see opportunities for pushing their regime change, for putting their candidate in power as prime minister,” Dr Mahathir wrote.
Foreign media reports of Bersih’s demonstrations have painted the Malaysian authorities in a negative light for their purportedly hard-handed tactics in attempting to disperse protesters.
The Bersih 3.0 rally, which had begun peacefully enough, resulted in much the same way as Bersih 2.0 last July 9, with riot police seen chasing citizens down the streets of the capital amid the chaotic mix of clouds of tear gas, chemical-laced water and warning bells from police trucks.
The electoral reforms movement has continued to show its dissatisfaction with the government’s attempts and promises to reform the country’s election processes, despite the formation of a parliamentary panel to look into the matter.
What Bersih has been demanding is that all aspects of the country’s polls processes, particularly the present electoral roll, be cleaned in order to ensure that the government is democratically elected into power.
But Dr Mahathir insisted in his blog posting that Bersih’s fears are unfounded, as “Malaysian elections have been cleaner than those in the authoritarian countries where results have always been obviously fixed”.
In Malaysia, he pointed out, entire states have fallen, numerous times into the hands of opposition parties, an outcome that is unlikely if the polls process is rigged.
“At different elections throughout independence, different states were won by the opposition.
“Kelantan voted for the opposition in 1964 and 1969. In 1974 when PAS joined the Barisan Nasional (BN), Kelantan was won by BN but continued to remain under PAS. It was lost to the BN only in 1978 but reverted to the opposition in subsequent elections.
“Penang went to the opposition in 1969. Sabah was also lost to the opposition in one of the elections.
“The worst result... was in 2008 when BN lost five states and one federal territory,” Dr Mahathir recounted.
As such, the still-influential leader predicted that the coming polls, said likely to be held soon, would continue to see federal opposition sweeping a fair number of seats.
“Almost certainly Kelantan would go to PAS. There would be great difficulty for BN to win back the states it had lost,” he said.
“So why the demonstrations and the demands for the elections to be clean and fair?” he asked.