He had to resort to cyberspace, to a pro-Umno website called Kelab Maya Umno, to publish his 7-page letter about the affairs surrounding the scenic bridge. Also, thanks to his farsighted MMC concept and its ensuing policies, there is good ole Malaysiakini ready to publish his side of the ongoing "A Bridge Too Far" saga.
Some of us may be unkind and say “Tough shit, he deserves a taste of his own medicine” in being blacked out, but let’s see what he has to say about the personalities surrounding the bridge decisions. Let’s examine his WMD or ‘Words of Massive Denunciation’.
Mahathir is obviously still pissed off with Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s action in aborting the bridge construction. The doctor criticised the PM’s explanation for the decision - initially as negative public sentiments over Singapore’s demand for the sale of sand and the use of airspace, and subsequently, as the legal implications involving the building of the half-bridge.
KTemoc agrees with Dr Mahathir’s criticism on the nonsense about sand and airspace. I have posted at least a couple of times that these were not issues at all, so the PM’s explanation was pretty pathetic, and seen as pulling wool over the public’s eyes, or say I say, Malay public’s eyes (others really didn’t matter) because he thought an appeal to their dislike of predominantly-Chinese kiasu greedy grotty grabbing Singapore could well do the trick!
The PM’s subsequently trotted out the explanation of legal issue when he realised that people would see sand as sand, a commercial issue which would be a case of either sell or not sell, and airspace as a non-negotiable sovereign issue where military flights were concerned, both items at Malaysia's wish to accord or deny.
Unfortunately for him, the legal explanation was nicely demolished by Dr Mahathir’s former (Chinese) press secretary, Matthias Chang who revealed letters from former Singaporean PM, Goh Chok Tong agreeing to the construction of the bridge.
Then the PM turned towards muzzling his cabinet, probably the chief target being an extremely unhappy DPM Najib, but also to restrain foreign minister Syed Hamid who did immaculate military parade drills of 180 degrees belakang pusing (about-turn) after the PM asserted the cabinet decision to cancel the bridge construction was “unanimous”. Can’t do to have cabinet members breaking ranks and undermining his assertion.
It’s a long 7-page letter Dr Mahathir wrote so feel free to look it up at the Gerbang Tempur Maya website or Malaysiakini – unfortunately the latter requires paid subscription and the article is too long for me to cut/paste on my blog. What I’ll do is to summarise it in a few paragraphs under two points, a blast against the Malaysian cabinet and another against Lee Kuan Yew.
(1) First, Dr Mahathir reiterated that the government had failed to defend the nation’s sovereignty. BTW, he sent his letter to all members of parliament as well as UMNO leaders. I wonder whether he extended a copy to Anwar Ibrahim, a former member (in fact Deputy President) of UMNO? He grumbled his views have been blacked out. He said the government’s decision had caused losses amounting to billions of public monies.
Well, it's true that there's the white elephant CIQ which cost RM1.266 billion - not exactly chicken feed. So why build the CIQ when the bridge was to be abandoned? This convinces KTemoc that the bridge will be resurrected once the objective of the "temporary" abandonment has been achieved. Besides, if you recall in my previous posting A Bridge Too Far - Anwar Ibrahim, Anwar Ibrahim has offered his expertise to the government to negotiate with Singapore on the bridge issue. So, could it be that someone had told Anwar the bridge is still on, but just put off for a while for tactical reasons? Could it be the Singapore government also know this? On this, see my posting A Bridge Too Far - Not bridge that's crooked.
Mahathir in an outright attack on his successor’s administration, said: “Don’t put words into the people’s mouths, just because you are afraid of protecting the rights and sovereignty of the country and the people.” Obviously this was in reference to PM Abdullah Badawi’s claim of the untenable sand and airspace factors.
(2) Then, he lambasted former Singapore premier Lee Kuan Yew (LKY). He said:
“Singapore enjoys publishing letters between its leaders and Malaysian leaders with the intention of proving that it is on the right side. The Malaysian government now believes that the problem will be resolved by itself without the need to dispute Singapore’s campaign to twist the facts. But this is just wishful thinking.”
He then denounced LKY’s style of having one-on-one meetings, called “four-eyed meetings” by the Singaporean elder statesman, without any complete agenda or for that matter, any recording of what transpired at the meeting, and then stating what had transpired in his letter to a third party as if what he wrote was what had been agreed. Mahathir accused LKY of not caring whether his personal and unverified recordings of what was discussed in the meetings were accurate.
I seem to recall reading LKY crooning about his “four-eyed meeting” with former Indonesian President Suharto in LKY’s autobiography, so there would be an element of truth in Dr Mahathir’s claim, well, at least in LKY's caliing one-on-one discussion as "4-eyed meetings".
Mahathir said: “His (Lee) assumptions are his alone, nothing more and nothing less. Statements made at a press conference by one party without the sanction of the other party is also not valid.”
Dr Mahathir continued: “His actions to publish the letters as proof that I had agreed has no meaning whatsoever. Only if I had replied the letter and verified certain facts, then the relevant issues can be considered true. But whether it is valid and binding on us depends on an official verification and agreement from both parties.”
Mahathir then dismissed LKY’s statements about the bridge and referred to former Singapore premier Goh Chok Tong’s official letter dated Oct 14, 2002 as written and valid evidence. Apart from this, he crushed LKY’s other waffling arguments piece by piece. Certainly Dr Mahathir can give as good as he takes. His WMDs must have created shock and awe amongst some cabinet members, not least his successor.