KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reiterated his position against the need for an Emergency to be declared, likening Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to a dictator for resorting to such a move.
“Well, it will be a kind of dictatorship where people cannot protest or question,” he said during a live interview on radio station BFM this morning.
“So (it seems like) we are doing away with democracy completely by using the Emergency in order to give Muhyiddin full power without anyone saying anything,” he quipped.
Host Noelle Lim countered by saying the nonagenarian has himself been labelled with the term countless times.
“I find it a bit rich that you call Muhyiddin a dictator, you have a reputation of being one yourself too; Operasi Lalang and ISA (Internal Security Act) come to mind,” Lim rebutted Dr Mahathir.
In response Dr Mahathir said: “A dictator rules by decree. Whether it is right or wrong, we wouldn’t know, we are no longer democratic, so we are sacrificing democracy in order to give him full power to do what he likes.
“For example my party (Parti Pejuang Tanah Air) will not be registered, and you cannot question it because there is no way we can appeal, so he is in that sense a dictator,” Dr Mahathir added.
This was in reference to the Emergency declared by the Yang Di Pertuan Agong on Tuesday, a day before a 14-day movement control order was imposed on six states, that will last until August 1; both measures were taken to curb the rising number of Covid-19 infections.
Dr Mahathir also took a swipe at Muhyiddin, saying his performance so far as prime minister has been subpar with the economy not showing any signs of improving, and condemned how the Emergency declaration was made without discourse from others.
Dr Mahathir did agree that an Emergency would give Muhyiddin much needed breathing space from political manoeuvrings trying to overthrow him, but casted doubts as to whether the prime minister was capable of making the right decisions.
“Yes, but it gives tremendous powers to the prime minister. So far the prime minister has not shown he is able to handle the problems of this country.
“MCO (movement control order) means a lot of people will have no income, no food even.
“That is why we feel that these matters should be open to public debate,” he said.
Dr Mahathir then asserted that such a drastic move was not required for a country like Malaysia whose citizens are mostly peace-loving people.
“Well actually the government has enough power to deal with the Covid-19, it’s not like other countries where there were people protesting against government’s instructions and all that.
“In Malaysia no, anything that the government says, we do. We don’t protest, we don’t take to the streets,” he said.
Hence, he said the overbearing powers afforded to Muhyiddin and his government during a period of Emergency was excessive to deal with the actual issues at hand, unlike countries that have seen revolts and riots stemming from Covid-19 restriction measures.
“In America and Germany, they take to the streets, then they need to have additional power to enforce laws.
“But in Malaysia there is no need for that, if we tell the people to do anything they will do,” he quipped.