PUTRAJAYA, June 20 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today defended his right to free speech, after he was criticised for making purportedly anti-Semitic remarks in the UK.
He also criticised the West for what he claimed to be practicing a biased definition of free speech.
“But that is my opinion. They talk about free speech, I can’t say that thing, there is no free speech.
“That’s why I say the Europeans, they have double standard. When they like, (it’s) free speech. When they don’t like, don’t say, it’s wrong,” Dr Mahathir said.
He was speaking to reporters after attending his department’s Hari Raya celebration here.
Eight former presidents of the Cambridge Union on Tuesday criticised Cambridge University’s debating society for not challenging Dr Mahathir’s allegedly anti-Semitic remarks.
The ex-Cambridge Union presidents noted in a letter published on Jewish News, that those present at the event hosting Dr Mahathir last Sunday at the university, had laughed at the Malaysian prime minister’s remarks: “I have some Jewish friends, very good friends. They are not like other Jews, that’s why they are my friends.”
They also expressed disappointment that the students present casually laughed at “racist remarks” and warned that such views legitimised hatred.
The eight who wrote the letter are Adam Cannon, Lauren Davidson, Lance Foreman, Jeremy Brier, Nick Chatrath, Gareth Weetman, George Bevis, and Joel Fenster.
The Cambridge Union said in a statement two days ago, that the laughter depicted in a video being circulated on social media came from Dr Mahathir’s delegation, not from its members.
Renowned Turkish author and journalist Mustafa Akyol also weighed in on Dr Mahathir’s remarks, calling the former’s comments as disrespectful.
“Imagine some non-Muslim politician saying that. We Muslims would find it quite disrespectful.
“So, Malaysian PM Mahathir is similarly disrespectful here.” Akyol tweeted.