The following article is submitted to the editorial of MalaysiaGazette by reader, Ahmad Zhafran Dzulkarnain.
FORMER Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad alleged that UMNO is merely using the 15th General Election (GE15) as a medium to regain its power. Mahathir also claimed that UMNO will appoint a new Attorney-General to sweep all ‘wrongdoings’ of the party under the carpet.
Mahathir’s statement sounded as if he has never taken such action during his reign. For the record, he appointed Tommy Thomas and Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tengku Mat right after he became the Prime Minister for the second time. That move has somehow ‘benefited’ the Prime Minister during his ruling era.
Mahathir appointed Thomas as the Attorney-General (AG) in 2018 after Pakatan Harapan became the government and he continued to hold that position until March 2020, when the PH government was toppled. Thomas, himself, admitted that his appointment was not based on merit, but it was a political appointment.
Furthermore, many political analysists saw Thomas’s appointment as a movement to save DAP leader, Lim Guan Eng from his bungalow corruption case. Thomas was Guan Eng’s defence counsel before he was appointed as the AG. After PH came into power, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was shocked to see that Guan Eng was acquitted. Political analysist also observed that Mahathir used Thomas to prosecute his political foes.
Tengku Maimun’s appointment as the Chief Justice is still a quiz. Furthermore, Tengku Maimun was appointed by Mahathir to judge ex-Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Her credibility was also in doubt when her husband, Zamani Ibrahim, a supporter of the opposition issued an unfriendly statement against Najib.
Although Tengku Maimun was pressured to recuse herself from the case over fear of mistrial and lopsided judgement, she refused to do so. The snub invited criticism from Najib’s supporters. Political observers found that the situation was caused by the stern action taken by Mahathir to topple his political adversaries such as Najib, the similar action he did to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim earlier.
Although Mahathir denied meddling with Najib’s trial, many know that he is not a person who would ‘sit quietly’. He interfered with the judicial system in the 80’s. The dismissal of judges was often seen during Mahathir’s administration. Among the polemic cases involved Tun Salleh Abbas.
In the 80’s, Mahathir was reported to be dissatisfied with the then national judiciary system, which often did not side him and caused instability to his position as the Prime Minister. He allegedly used media to attack the judges.
Following the pressure, Tun Salleh and 20 High Court Judges wrote to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and pleaded the government to stop meddling with the judiciary system. The letter, was weaponised by Mahathir as a ground for a large-scale reshuffle in the national judiciary system.
He also wrote to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to replace Tun Salleh due to health reasons and alleged that the then Chief Justice has lost his ability to make sound decisions. Tun Salleh finally gave in and resigned after he failed to garner support.
Thus, Mahathir’s allegation of UMNO is merely the pot calling the kettle black. Appointing proxy into the judiciary body during Mahathir’s era has always been a movement to ease his political journey in toppling his political rivals.
Although the youths today did not live during the first Mahathir’s era, information about Mahathir’s ruling are exposed in this technologically advanced age. Before Mahathir paints such narrative again, he should refer to his previous actions.
Ahmad Zhafran Dzulkarnain
Editorial note: The views expressed are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysia Gazette.