Saying he risks being accused of lese majeste, Dr Mahathir Mohamad today rebutted the criticism of Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar against him.
In repeating his objection to China citizens buying up properties in Malaysia, especially Johor’s proposed Forest City development, Dr Mahathir said: “I hope that in responding to HRH’s challenge I will not be arrested and jailed without trial.”
The former prime minister said: “Let all transactions be transparent. Publish all documents about the investments, the number of workers, their home countries, the buyers, the banks which finance and all expatriation of funds. Do this honestly. No hiding.
“So let the truly international Transparency International examine the exposed official documents. Let the people see the documents to prove their genuineness.”
Demonising him, Dr Mahathir said, reflected “a fundamental lack of basis for the arguments against me”.
He added: “I am a Malaysian born in Kedah. Malaysia is my home and the object of my loyalty. If I have to be accused of lese majeste for what I say, so be it.”
Dr Mahathir said this in a letter carried by The Star today. It is not clear if Dr Mahathir had sent it as a letter to The Star or if he had just sent it in and The Star had decided to run it as a letter, because Dr Mahathir refers to it as “article”. Also, he had challenged The Star to publish it in full.
Yesterday, the Star had carried a report titled: “Sultan Ibrahim throws former premier a challenge”. It stated: “The Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar has thrown a challenge to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad – show Johor the big investors from Arab countries, Australia or the United States “instead of China bashing”.
And, in an interview, also published yesterday, The Star quoted Sultan Ibrahim as saying that Mahathir and his supporters had gone “too far” and were twisting facts regarding development projects in Johor.
“He (Dr Mahathir) is making allegations that 700,000 mainland Chinese will stay in JB, and that citizenships will be given away, and that huge tracts of land have been sold to the Chinese.
“He is giving the impression that Johor is surrendering land to the Chinese and that we are giving up our sovereignty, comparing even how we gave up Singapore to the British,” The Star quoted Sultan Ibrahim as saying.
After giving his points as to why there was no cause for alarm, the Sultan added: “Here, we have Dr Mahathir creating fear, using race, just to fulfil his political motives. He’s not stupid, he’s just selfish and opportunistic.”
Dr Mahathir said in the letter: “I don’t know if it is true about HRH the Sultan of Johor throwing a challenge to me over the development of Johor Bahru. Maybe it is only The Star which is interpreting what HRH says as a challenge to me.
“But unless HRH denies he is challenging me, I will take the report of The Star as the truth.
“I admit I am at a disadvantage here. While people can say what they like about me, and I welcome their freedom to say so, I hope that in responding to HRH’s challenge I will not be arrested and jailed without trial.
“If it is with trial, I welcome the arrest.”
Defending himself, Dr Mahathir said he had merely repeated a report by Bloomberg published on Nov 22 last year.
“It said that a China Chinese company will build Forest City in JB which can accommodate 700,000. It went on to say that planeloads of China Chinese are being flown in to view the man-sized model (with pictures) and they have and will buy most of the properties in Forest City.
“I doubt if many Johor Malays and Chinese are buying or going to buy these apartments. There just aren’t that many Malaysians to buy all these properties.
“Bloomberg, in the same report, mentioned 60 other developments similar to Forest City, and these are also being sold to mainland Chinese.”
He said there would be more than a million foreigners living in JB Forest City and the 60 other developments and while these new places would not become a foreign country but they would have an “inordinate percentage of foreign people”.
“If they stay long enough, they will be entitled to become citizens of Malaysia.”
He said when foreigners bought land, there was no inflow of capital as much of the money would be borrowed locally and they could do business with their own banks. Also, whatever foreign companies earned would be expatriated, and would result in capital outflow.
He said: “It is easy to accuse me of being a racist. I have been called a Malay ultra before.
“This labelling, this demonising actually exposes the lack of credible arguments against what I do or say. It reflects a fundamental lack of basis for the arguments against me.”
Noting that Malaysia was stable and peaceful compared with many other nations, he said:
“It is stable and peaceful because we accept each other as we are. During my 22 years as PM, there were no significant racial clashes. Differences, yes, but no violence. And the country grew.
“Had I been a racist, my period would have seen turmoil and regression in this country.”
He dared The Star to publish what he said in full, adding: “It is a measure of the government’s fear of the truth that the mainstream media is strictly controlled.
Source : @ FMT Online