KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Malaysians can choose to do away with the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) simply by not supporting the government, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
The former prime minister said Malaysia being a democratic nation means that the public has a say when it comes to government agencies.
“If people want to get rid of Jakim, they can get rid of it. Because this is a democratic country, they can stop supporting the government, that’s all,” Dr Mahathir told a press conference here after giving his keynote address at the 2nd annual Malaysia’s War in Corruption Symposium.
Dr Mahathir was responding to G25 member Tawfik Ismail’s suggestion that Jakim be dissolved to allow the country to return to a time when the federal government did not meddle in the religious affairs and practices of citizens.
In an interview with news portal The Malaysian Insider, Tawfik, son of Malaysia’s second deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, blamed Dr Mahathir and his policies for the rapid Islamisation of the country and for creating racial tension.
Dr Mahathir said Tawfik’s remarks were made in bad taste and stemmed from the G25 member’s personal dislike toward him.
“He’s entitled to say what he likes. I know he doesn’t like me, why he has come see me with others is beyond me,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said Tawfik was “very nice” to him during his meeting with G25, a pro-moderation group of Malay retired civil servants, but Tawfik’s attitude outside the meeting was a “different matter”.
The 90-year-old also admitted to mooting the idea of forming a council of elders to advice Najib seeing as the Cabinet is made up of lawmakers who automatically support the prime minister.
“In the system we have now the PM chooses his own Cabinet and he chooses people who support him all the way and of course that means whatever he does will be okay-ed by Cabinet.
“Whereas an outside council appointed by other people may not agree with the prime minister all the time, they can give their opinion. Maybe the PM will not accept but at least he will hear other opinions,” he said.
He also spoke of his meeting with G25, saying that it was a bid to put forth a multiracial front against Najib after a “Chinese group” approached him and expressed their wanting to protest the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
“It began when a Chinese group approached me, and they felt they should protest the GST... I told them if you do that, you will be accused of being racist.
“So if you want to say something against the government, let it be multiracial. Find a Malay and Indian group to join in, so it will be multiracial, not just a Chinese attempt to bring down the government,” he said.
Dr Mahathir has been among the most vocal critics of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad controversy and has demanded Najib take responsibility for his brainchild, which is under investigation in the US, UK, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Singapore.
The retired former prime minister had also joined in the two-day Bersih 4 rally in Kuala Lumpur, and urged Malaysians to use their “people power” to push for Najib’s removal through a no-confidence vote in Parliament.