Dr Mahathir Mohamad has questioned a recent speech by Anwar Ibrahim at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in San Francisco, saying the prime minister did not even mention Israel by name despite his supporters' attempts to show him as a courageous leader who spoke in defence of Palestinians in front of major powers.
"What was clear to me is that Anwar did not mention Israel at all. He only mentioned 'terrorists' in his highly spirited speech in the US. But he didn't have the courage to mention Israel by name. Why?
"Surely it's because he was worried about angering friends!" the former prime minister said during an event on the theme of Palestine hosted by the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya yesterday.
Mahathir was referring to a grainy clip shared by Pakatan Harapan (PH) supporters on social media, said to be of Anwar's speech during a closed-door meeting attended by heads of state including US President Joe Biden.
One PH supporter claimed that US authorities "tried to control" the event and stopped the live streaming of the speeches by world leaders after Biden's address.
Facebook user Najib Bakar said the two-and-a-half-minute clip was recorded by a Malaysian delegate from a video streamed at the lounge.
"The PM's cameraman who was in the lounge recorded the speech with a phone. That's why the audio quality is not clear," he said, adding that the US side refused Malaysia's request for the official footage of the session.
In the speech, Anwar criticised the muted response from some countries in the face of the atrocities committed in Palestine, even as they urged others to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"Expressively, how wonderful it is if we are steadfast in upholding justice for these lost lives," he was heard saying in the clip.
He then touched on his "persecution" in Malaysia, a possible reference to his jail sentences for sodomy convictions, saying the US government had then come to his defence "purely based on the principle of justice and human rights".
"That's all we are doing. Stop the atrocities. Stop the killing of women and children now, because every day means more babies will be killed, and then go for a final solution," Anwar had said.
Mahathir said Anwar was "trying to show" that he was a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause.
"But he doesn't mention that the terrorist is Israel," he added.
Mahathir is among world leaders who have come out in defence of Hamas, which launched an attack across the Gaza border on Oct 7.
The 98-year-old whose various comments during his reign as prime minister had sparked anger in Israel as well as among Zionist groups in the West, recently condemned Muslim leaders for failing to agree on an action plan to stop Israel's continued bombardment of Gaza, which has so far killed more than 12,000 civilians, one-third of whom are children.
"Many died but they will live on as martyrs and heroes. Instead, it is Muslim and Arab leaders who are being stripped of their dignity as Israel, the US and their Western allies continue to 'humour' them but never take them seriously," Mahathir said in response to the outcome of the recent Arab-Islamic summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.
The Nov 11 summit reportedly saw several Arab governments opposing a proposal put forward by Iran President Ebrahim Raisi for Muslim countries to impose economic and oil sanction on Israel as well as to ban Israel from using their airspace.
Nine countries – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco, Mauritania, Djibouti, Jordan and Egypt – shot down the proposal, according to the Times of Israel.
In his comments today, Mahathir condemned the US and European governments for then approving of Israel's actions.
"The Europeans and the Americans are as culpable for the genocide that is going on because they obviously approve.
"So this is the new world order. This is the world order according to the American and European governments. I would like to say God help us.
"But these governments do not believe in God. They cannot. They have abandoned their own religions," he said in a statement.