Dr M: Will Kit Siang only retire when he's dead?

Mahathir hits out at the opposition leader in his latest entry on his blog yesterday. — Reuters pic
Mahathir hits out at the opposition leader in his latest entry on his blog yesterday. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 — Age has not dulled his acerbic tongue as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad continued to trade barbs with political foe Lim Kit Siang, asking the DAP adviser if he was still fearful of the shadow of a man who had retired from government a decade ago.

The former prime minister, who has repeatedly crossed swords with Lim in Parliament between 1981 and 2003, hit out at the opposition leader in his latest entry on his Chedet.cc blog yesterday, in exchange for the blows rained upon him in the run-up to the Sungai Limau by-election on Monday and immediately after the results were announced.

“Kit Siang also campaigned but it was as if DAP is still afraid of my shadows. The focus of Kit Siang was to run me down, as if I was the one contesting. Kit Siang was uncomfortable that I am still active even after my retirement,” Dr Mahathir said.

In his blog rebuttal, Dr Mahathir said he had not planned to campaign for the BN in Sungai Limau, but had decided to hit the ground for certain reasons—which he did not elaborate—and that the state seat had been part of the Kota Setar Selatan parliamentary constituency that he had represented as an MP between 1964 and 1969.

The 88-year-old Kedah-born said both he and Lim had cut their teeth on politics in 1964 but while he had passed on the government’s reins to another 10 years ago, his former parliamentary opponent chose to stay on the political battlefield.

“When will Kit Siang retire? When he is dead? Even if he retires, will he remain the DAP’s Senior Leader?” Dr Mahathir asked.

The two had locked horns in the run-up to the May 5 general election when Lim ran for the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat—which he won—and more recently in the campaign for the Sungai Limau by-election, which was called following the death of its incumbent assemblyman, Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak from PAS, the DAP’s political ally.

Lim had said in the campaign last week that Dr Mahathir’s waning influence on Malaysian politics would be confirmed if BN failed to wrest the seat from PAS.

Even as Dr Mahathir made a last minute campaign appearance for BN in Kedah, the Gelang Patah made several jibes against the Umno veteran’s failure to prevent his victory in the Johor federal seat.

Lim also took several shots against Dr Mahathir’s son and Kedah Mentri Besar, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, who had thrown his hat in the ring for last month’s Umno vice-presidency election and lost.

The senior opposition politician alleged that Dr Mahathir had mounted a campaign of “lies, falsehoods and character-assassination”, which he added, had formed the staple ahead of polling day in Sungai Limau. 

Lim noted that it was similar to the campaign the former prime minister had initiated against him ahead of the 13th general election, citing Dr Mahathir’s accusations that he was contesting in Gelang Patah to make the Chinese “dislike and hate the Malays”, and claiming that the DAP wanted to remove the Malays from political dominance to set up a Christian state.