and never the twain shall meet,
When two strong men stand face to face,
tho' they come from the ends of the earth!
- Rudyard Kipling
Malaysiakini posed some provocative questions to former PM Dr Mahathir. But the one that we all want to know is his thoughts about Anwar Ibrahim, once his heir apparent, a man who was sponsored by Mahathir himself to parachute into the upper echelon of UMNO, and who leapfrogged over far more senior UMNO leaders into the right seat of the grand ole man.
Two interesting issues were raised, (1) is Mahathir still truly convinced, 100% sure that Anwar had been guilty of the homosexuality allegations, and (2) would he reconcile with his former deputy?
Mahathir replied: “I was the prime minister and I had a responsibility not only for myself but for the country, not only during the time I was prime minister, but for the future of the country, and I had to make a decision. If I am convinced that somebody is not suitable, I have to make a decision.”
“Even if he is a friend, or my own relative, it doesn’t make any difference. If I find somebody who is not suitable, I would be failing in my duty in hesitating because, you know, he’s a friend, I brought him up, things like that. Those things don’t count to me.”
Then to demonstrate the veracity of his words, he added:
“You know, my enemies - I have brought back into the cabinet*. I don’t care about personal relations. I care about your ability. If you show the ability to serve the country, even though you are my enemy, I take you back. But if you are my bosom pal and all that, but you have done something that renders you unsuitable to run the country, I will have to take action.”
* He was referring to current PM Abdullah Badawi, Foreign Minister Syed Hamid, former Information Minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadir, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Dr Rais Yatim
Mahathir even mentioned his reconciliation with Ku Li (Tengku Razaleigh), his chief opponent in 1989 split of UMNO and probably the most powerful and credible alternative leader to Mahthir.
Malaysiakini pounced on that and asked whether there would be any possibility of reconciliation with Anwar Ibrahim, given that Mahathir had taken back his enemies before?
He responded: “If I have reconciliation [with Anwar], it may be interpreted as my belief that actually nothing happened, that it was wrong, my mistake, (that) my decision was wrong, that this thing did not happen. But to me, I was convinced, I made the decision, no matter what the people say.”
Anticipating the inevitable question, he moved swiftly to comment on one of the most disgraceful treatment of an incarcerated Anwar, who was beaten and given a black eye by a former IGP. He asserted:
“I didn’t ask the people to give him a black eye. I nearly lost the  election because of that. But whether I’m going to lose the election, whether I was going to be expelled from the party, and things like that, what happens to me is not a matter of any relevance to me. What is important to me is that I do what I think is right. So if the Tunku is wrong, I tell the Tunku*.”
* Referring to his own expulsion from UMNO after the 1969 election, where Parti Perikatan (the Alliance Party of UMNO, MCA and MIC – predecessor of today’s BN) suffered its most disastrous setback in the polls.
Mahathir, then with Musa Hitam as UMNO’s young Turks, condemned Tunku Abdul Rahman’s lack of affirmative actions for the Malays as the reason for UMNO’s losses. Mahathir himself lost his Kota Selatan seat to a PAS candidate in that election.
I had also blogged on the election result for the state of Selangor as The Real Cause of the May 13 Riots.
From what a friend (with strong connections to UMNO) told me, I reckon there could be two reasons why Mahathir couldn’t forgive Anwar Ibrahim:
(1) Mahathir had actually believed that Anwar was guilty of those homosexual allegations, because someone or some people must have showed him some convincing photos of Anwar in comprising positions. Now, we know that photos can be jigged every which way. The further questions are (a) were they? And (b) who showed Mahathir the photos?
(2) Mahathir must have felt that his once-beloved Anwar had showed him disrespect by being very impatient and aggressive towards the time when Mahathir was about to hand over the reins to his protégé.
I was informed that Anwar’s faction rather than Anwar was very pushy and attempting to ‘take no prisoners’ with the other UMNO factions, who would have reacted (in any way) out of fear.
I was also shown newspaper cuttings where Anwar’s faction, impatient for absolute power and in attempting to give a jolly extra nudge to get Mahathir out, had insinuated Mahathir was corrupt, when suddenly the old fox displayed a list that ricocheted the accusation of corruption back on to Anwar. Mahathir must have felt that Anwar was grossly disloyal to him.
Well, whatever, we do know the two hate each other.