KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed continued his attacks today against his political contemporary, Lee Kuan Yew, and accused him of disrespecting the religions and sensitivities of other races.
The former prime minister’s harsh remarks in a Mingguan Malaysia interview was a response to what the Singapore Minister Mentor said in a recently released book, “Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going”.
Lee had urged Muslims in Singapore, who he said were socially “distinct and separate”, to “be less strict on Islamic observances” to aid integration and the city-state’s nation-building process.
"I am not surprised by his statement because to him (Lee) religion is not important. For him the end justifies the means, so if he wants racial integration in Singapore, he won’t let Islam stand in the way of his goals. He has no respect for religion and the sensitivities of other people," Dr Mahathir said.
In the interview with Mingguan Malaysia, the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia weekend edition, Dr Mahathir rebuked Lee for suggesting that Islam was not a progressive religion, and that it stood in the way of the island nation’s developments.
"Islam in itself is progressive enough," Dr Mahathir said.
The acerbic politician claimed that the Malays in Singapore were constantly under siege from the ruling government, and had no choice but to compromise their Islamic beliefs.
"The Malays over there are actually afraid of the government . . . for instance, if they are served with food that is haram (non-halal) they have to accept it. Our culture here is that if pork were served to us we would not eat it . . . but in Singapore there is a fatwa that if (pork)
was served to Muslims, they cannot complain about and (they) have to accept it.
"This is because they are afraid under such a government rule," said Dr Mahathir, who likened the current Singapore administration to Russia’s rule of Muslims in the past, whereby many Muslims became "communists" out of fear of the Russian government.
The former Umno president also appeared to blame Lee for Singapore’s separation from Malaysia.
He claimed that Lee, back in 1964, had "broken" an unofficial agreement set out by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, whereby Lee’s party (The People’s Action Party) was supposed to limit its influence to only Singapore and not Peninsular Malaysia, or Sabah and Sarawak.
"But during the 1964 elections PAP tried to move here and give the impression that the Chinese were under threat by using slogans like Malaysian Malaysia, as though Malaysia only belonged to the Malays.
"This sentiment was propagated by Kuan Yew and Tunku saw this as something dangerous . . . which is why he decided to separate Singapore and give it its independence,” said Dr Mahathir.
The country’s fourth prime minister has been ramping up his attacks against Malaysia’s neighbouring country over recent weeks.
Last week he suggested that Malaysia was a more democratic country than Singapore, and argued that the island republic’s “disciplined” image was at the expense of the freedom of its citizens.
Dr Mahathir had said the reason why Malaysians were not as disciplined as Singaporeans was because Malaysia was more “democratic” and did not resort to extreme measures in governing the country.
He has also insisted that Singaporean Malays were being marginalised
and denied their rights by the Singaporean government.