Leaders can be reproached and challenged, says Mahathir
JOHOR BAHARU, Sept 20 — Leaders can be reproached and challenged if it is felt that they have strayed from the struggle to develop society and the nation, says former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"(We do it) when we have the opportunity to do so, but not in an angry or insulting manner. We give opinions that can be taken into consideration by the leaders," he said.
Speaking to reporters after a discussion on leadership at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), here, today, he said the leaders too must be open to challenge and reprovals. "During my time (as prime minister), I was reproached by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Musa Hitam and there were also scores of people who were angry with me," he said.
Dr Mahathir said leaders must also not overstay in power and "go when it is time for them to go, although they are popular among the people". Asked how a leader would know if it is time to step down, he said: "A leader must be able to read the people's mind and there would be indications or signals for him to go."
However, he said, it would be bad if the time given to a leader to lead was too short that he could not learn his job, formulate some policies and implement them.
"Five years? Ten years? Some countries limit it (term) to five years. That is not good.
"People need to give time to a leader unless of course if he is very bad, filling his own pocket, giving priority to his family and something like that. If he is not like that, then you allow him to stay on at least for another term".
On the 13th general election, Dr Mahathir said the problem that he saw in Barisan Nasional at the moment was that there were too many people who considered themselves as the best candidates.
"When not elected as candidates, these people will go all out to prevent the elected candidates from winning."
He said another thing that would hinder BN from winning two-thirds majority comfortably in the elections was that the people were easily influenced by the feeling of hatred being stirred up against the government by the opposition.
Because of that, he said, people forgot the good things that the government had done for them and focused on its bad qualities or bad deeds.
"That is the problem, because there is no perfect leader. Every leader has his good and bad side. You have to weigh how much good or how much bad.
"It all depends on the wisdom of the people to choose and if they let themselves be influenced by anger, hatred or corruption, I think they will not get good leaders," he said.
During the discussion with some 2,000 students earlier, Dr Mahathir expressed confidence that the youths could help spur the country's development towards 2020 provided they they had high moral values and the right mindset.
He assured them that their voice as students would remain strong and be heard by the government as long as it was through the proper channels and not merely screaming during street demonstrations, which could create instability in the country and cause uneasiness among investors.
He said they all had the potential to become the leaders of tomorrow but they must bear in mind that their struggle would be in the interest of the people, not for their own benefit. Among those present were Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman and UTM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Ir Dr Zaini Ujang. — Bernama