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Anwar out to get rid of opposition leaders ahead of state polls, says Mahathir

The former prime minister also claims racism in the recent cancellation of 'The Malay Proclamation' event.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad today stepped up his attack against his one-time protege Anwar Ibrahim, questioning the series of actions against opposition leaders, which has seen Muhyiddin Yassin, with whom he co-founded Bersatu, investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and slapped with criminal charges.

"So far, the anti-corruption campaign has singled out the leaders of the opposition. Those in the government who are known to be corrupt are not investigated.

"This shows that the campaign is about removing the leaders of the opposition so that there will be no opposition to the government in the state elections," he said a day after accusing Anwar of being a dictator out to silence dissent, especially by those discussing Malay rights.

In his second statement following the sudden cancellation of an event in Kuala Lumpur dubbed "The Malay Proclamation", which was to have featured him, Mahathir said the move to block the programme was also "racist" as it denied the rights of the Malays.

"Its ban on the Malays discussing their problems and finding ways to overcome them is at best undemocratic and is anti-Malay. That, again, is racist," he said.

Mahathir said in contrast, the government had no problems with talks centred on "multiracialism" and "multireligion" as they were "in favour of the other races". 

"This is also racist," he added.

Anwar recently vowed to come down hard on those he claimed were fanning racial sentiments, adding that the relevant agencies had been instructed to use the full force of the law to end "racial and religious rhetoric".

Mahathir subsequently claimed that the "The Malay Proclamation" programme had to be cancelled after the organisers were informed by the hotel where it was to be held that it could not proceed.

Mahathir said he believed that Anwar was behind the cancellation.

"From his speeches, I am sure he was behind this ban to close the mouths of government critics," he said yesterday.

In his statement today, he asked why the event had been targeted. 

"Actually, the government does not know what will be said at the gathering. Even the declaration does not blame other races," he said, adding that the groups behind the event had blamed corrupt Malay leaders themselves.

He added however that the problems faced by the Malays were real.

"It is obvious that if these problems are not tackled now, they will get worse. The government knows this," he added.