Good ole Dr Mahathir! Always trust him to explode a few WMDs on his way to his office. He was interviewed by Malaysiakini, whom he informed straight in their face that he didn’t like them very much – ouch! That’s TDM for you – WYSIWYG!
But he was very diplomatic about his successor, refusing to grade PM Abdullah Badawi’s performance thus far. Look, in Malaysia, refusal to comment is as good as disapproval.
But the best juicy part came out on 3 items, that were not only juicy per se but also showed that our wonderful ministers had been lying through their teeth to us, or at least not telling the entire story.
Issues No 1 & 2 - sand & airspace!
Remember the Bridge of Sand? In that posting I wrote:
“The PM has virtually said in the media release that we won’t build the bridge because our people don’t want to sell sand to Singapore nor permit its air force to zoom around in our Malaysian airspace.”
I did argue that selling sand, unlike allowing the SAF planes to fly within our airspace, was just a commercial enterprise so there was no harm in going ahead. In a subsequent posting Secret Sand Supremo I referred to Dr Mahathir’s anger about the abandonment of the bridge, where the ole man said:
“…….. someone in Malaysia wanted the sand issue tied in, so that he (that unnamed person) could corner the market in selling sand to Singapore. I heard that it would be a multi-billion ringgit business.”
He was convinced that the government’s priority and intention had been to sell sand to Singapore, and that the reason of the abandonment of the bridge came much later.
He attacked: “All in all it is clear that the Malaysian government is more interested in selling sand to Singapore than to build the bridge. This keenness to sell sand is strange for Malaysia does not need the proceeds from sale of sand. Despite my alleged profligate ways when I was PM, Malaysia is not so bankrupt that it has to depend on selling sand.”
“That any Malaysian leader should not shudder in horror at the idea of scraping one billion square metres from Malaysian seabeds continuously over a period of 20 years, thereby destroying all the fish breeding grounds of Malaysian seas, depriving Malaysian fishermen of their livelihood, destroying Malaysia’s marine ecology defies the imagination.”
“That there should be any Malaysian leader willing to entertain this idea, to destroy Malaysian seas to satisfy Singapore speaks badly of his love for his country.”
I also had wrote in Bridge of Sand?: “Of course we ordinary citizens don’t know what the hell is going on behind all those ‘faces’.”
Indeed, we didn’t!
Dr Mahathir has revealed that it had been the Malaysian side who offered the sand and airspace to Singapore. He said that the offer of the sand had been as much as one billion square metres, or 50 million square metres a year for 20 years. That would have made Singapore 1.5 times its present size, and capable of sustaining a population of around 10 million.
So we had actually prostituted ourselves, and then blamed Singapore for demanding or attempting to connect those two items with the straight bridge!
Mahathir gave credit to Johor for objecting to the sale, and forcing the Malaysian government to back down..
All well and good, and generally shouldn’t worry us, but what is truly worrying has been the fact that the Singapore government had played ball with the sand and airspace issues, because they had acted as if they themselves asked for them. Does that mean they were silently supporting some or even one Malaysian?
Well, in the Secret Sand Supremo I did ask who could that person be, that was so powerful as to consider cornering the sand-to-Singapore market and be able to persuade or coopt the Singaporeans into raising the issues, including the use of our airspace (offered by Malaysia).
Well, that’s 2 issues – sand and airspace. I’ll blog on the 3rd later that Dr Mahathir voiced his concerns over.