Get into the arena, PM tells 'reformasi' group
By Muguntan Vanar and Ruben Sario
KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday took on the "so-called reformasi" movement and asked them to get into the arena during elections if they wanted a change of leadership.
The Prime Minister said these people staged protests supposedly for changes and to reform the country.
"What kind of reformasi do they want? Do we want our country to end up like other countries where the races cannot live in peace? Our peaceful country does not need protests and riots. Our country is democratic.
"If there is any desire to change the leaders, sila turun ke gelanggang (enter the arena) when election comes," he said to loud applause from the crowd attending the Sabah Barisan Youth rally at the Likas sports complex.
Dr Mahathir, who is on a two-day visit to Sabah, said if those calling for reformasi really had the support of the people, then they might win in the elections.
"(But) people who cause chaos and demonstrations are not confident of winning elections. At that time (elections) we will see the Barisan Youth move.
"We don't have to tie cloths on our heads and shout. We don't have to burn motorcycles, we don't have to look for molotov cocktails.
"What we need in Barisan are level-headed thinking and sobre minds. With such thinking and minds, we will see who will form the government," he added.
Dr Mahathir said the Barisan Youth would determine who would be the country's future leaders.
"You will inherit what we have built. If we destroy what we have built, the future generation will inherit only ashes," he said.
He also said that the transition from old to young leaders in the Malaysian leadership was something that took time.
"The old leaders now were young once. Although it has been a long time, I still remember that when I was young, I wanted to play a role but I had to wait for the transition from the adult to the young that took time," he said, adding that it took him 36 years in politics before he became Prime Minister.
"There are some people who come into Umno for two days and want to become leaders.
"They cannot wait and want to remove the existing leaders. Although (those at) the top have said that the leadership will be handed over, they become impatient," he said, adding that these people then tried to overthrow the leaders.
Dr Mahathir said they would plot to doing anything, and this included making friends in and outside the country to help them take over the leadership.
These overseas friends would come to Malaysia and criticise the country when the plots failed, he said.
"We will determine Malaysia's future, others cannot interfere. They are not free from corruption. They are big liars and when something is wrong, their friends defend them," Dr Mahathir said.
He said those who accused Malaysia of being undemocratic and claimed that its judiciary was not independent should look at themselves in the mirror.
"In our country whoever is wrong will go to court even if they are from the same party as us," Dr Mahathir said, adding that "our country is our responsibility."
BN Youth vows to defend nation
KOTA KINABALU: Barisan Nasional Youth yesterday made a firm stand that Malaysia will not allow anyone to stake any claim on Sabah.
"Do anyone here want to be colonised again," Barisan Youth chairman Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein asked a large crowd at a Youth rally in Likas here.
To this the crowd roared back "tidak (no)" and Hishammuddin told them: "We must not allow others to use us."
The Umno Youth acting president said most of the Youth members were born after independence and they did not want to be colonised by any country.
YOUTH SUPPORT ... Dr Mahathir arriving at the Barisan Youth rally in Likas yesterday, accompanied by Chief Minister Datuk Bernard Dompok.
"We want to prove to the world that no matter what we go through, our spirit and idealism will not be weaken in face of the problems," he said, adding that other countries should not blackmail Malaysia.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok again criticised US Vice-President Al Gore for his speech at the Apec meeting, which Dompok said was tantamount to a visitor coming to a house and asking the children to fight against their father.
"As Malaysians we are not happy with the way our guest like Al Gore who comes here and tells us how to run our country," he said at the rally attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Earlier, Sabah Youth, led by Mohd Samlih Juasin, read out a pledge in support of Dr Mahathir in tackling the current political and economic crisis.
Sabah Cabinet pledges full support for Dr M
KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok and his Barisan Nasional Cabinet have given their undivided support to Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the political arena and in handling the economic crisis.
"We rendered him full support in the political arena where even outsiders are interfering," he said after the Cabinet members' meeting with the Prime Minister.
Asked if the state elections were discussed, Dompok said: "We paid more attention to solving the economic problems of the country."
He said that they brought up various development issues including funding, infrastructure, rural projects, tourism, and Kota Kinabalu city status with Dr Mahathir.
"He will have to look at the big pile (of documents) we have presented to him," he said, adding that the Prime Minister agreed to look into their various requests.
He said that Kota Kinabalu was striving to be a rainforest city and in line with this aspiration the state government had launched the I Love KK campaign.
Dr Mahathir arrived to a colourful traditional welcome at the airport where a big crowd with banners shouted "Hidup Mahathir" amidst tight security.
Included in the banners were slogans such as Dr Mahathir symbol of Malaysia's pride and dignity; Al Gore Jangan Seperti Ketam Yang Menyuruh Anaknya Jalan Lurus; Dr Mahathir Ialah Akar Tunjang Kepimpinan Negara; and Rakyat Sabah bangga dengan kepimpinan Dr Mahathir.
The nine-member state Barisan coalition organised the welcoming ceremony, where Dompok and other state political leaders as well as Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud were present at the airport to greet Dr Mahathir.
US magazine: Gore's speech a blunder
PETALING JAYA: A Washington-based weekly economic-political magazine Executive Intelligence Review described US Vice-President Al Gore's speech at the Apec Business Council dinner in Kuala Lumpur as a blunder.
In an article, the magazine said Gore had put his foot in his mouth and outrageously offended his Malaysian hosts by praising so-called reformasi demonstrations.
It said Gore "enthusiastically waxed" about the allegedly successful democracy in other Asian countries now suffering under the International Monetary Fund and "incredibly, he included Indonesia which is currently undergoing bloody riots and mass hunger and unemployment, as one of the success stories."
The magazine said Gore's remarks significantly disrupted the Apec meetings' deliberations -- which were already inadequate to (addressing) the global financial crisis.
It also said Gore was impolite to leave the dinner immediately after his own speech.
The magazine added that nearly every country at Apec had distanced itself from Gore.
It also said that while the White House backed Gore, the speech was never reviewed by President Bill Clinton and was edited by the vice-president or his staff.
It concluded that it was therefore highly unlikely that Clinton would himself have included such an assault and it was unfortunate that Clinton now felt compelled to back Gore "whose speech was correctly described by Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz as the most disgusting 'I have ever heard'."
Expert: Gore's remarks vindicate PM's warning
MELBOURNE: A leading Australian journalist said US Vice-President Al Gore's provocative remarks at the recent Apec Summit only vindicate Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad's warning that Malaysia is under attack from foreign elements jealous of her success.
The Australian Financial Review Asian affairs expert Peter Hartcher said that at a stroke, Gore vindicated Dr Mahathir's warning.
"By praising reformasi, he had demonstrated that the pro-Anwar forces were backed by official US policy.
"It seemed to be clear confirmation that Dr Mahathir has been insightful," he said. -- Bernama
LETTERS AND OPINIONS TO THE EDITOR
Letters To The Editor
I WAS close to tears when I watched the TV news bulletin last weekend.
Although it was not the first time that such events had occurred in our beloved Malaysia, it was more painful this time around to see the once peace-loving Malaysians taking to the streets and creating havoc all over the city.
Policemen being beaten up, vehicles being burnt and damaged, lives endangered, and for what? To show loyalty to a leader? To seek reformation? To uphold the rule of law?
Whatever the rationale, there is no justification in introducing violence and calamity into the country. There will be no winners, only losers. And we, the people of this country will be the losers.
We have in our 41 years of independence worked so hard to achieve what we have today. Probably these people do not realise that what they are doing will possibly bring us back to the days of our forefathers.
We were once colonised, being servants to masters from faraway lands who plundered our wealth, who enjoyed while we toiled for them.
Perhaps, that is what they want -- a return to the old days when we were subservient to people who could never appreciate what and who we are.
You could see the malice of it all when they purposefully march to the place where the American delegates for the Apec Summit were residing and created chaos.
Of all people, the Americans! They judge you by your skin colour, by your religious beliefs, by your geographical location. And we are basically black, brown and yellow, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists and Hindus, and in the East, far east.
And for those reasons, we are uncivilised, barbaric, undemocratic, and do not know what the rule of law is -- as opposed to the rule by law.
Well, what have we shown them when we stupidly marched into their trap? Just as they perceive us to be!
No matter what grievances these people might have, there are proper ways to go about voicing them.
In a democracy like ours, we can always, when the time comes, vote for another party, another person.
If the present Prime Minister is as bad as they claim he is, vote him out. The time will come for him to face the people in the manner prescribed by law.
If we want the rule of law to be upheld, then we must first abide by the law.
If we take the law into our own hands or, in this case, infringe the law, we should not be talking about the rule of law.
And to bring the Americans and, for that matter, any other outside party to be judge and jury of our own internal affairs is just plain stupid and unacceptable.
These people who do damage to life and property are actually those who have benefited from the fruits of labour of the present government.
Some are students, purported to be the elite. And some of them, if not all, joined the fray simply because they are paid to do so. Where is the sincerity?
If they want to see bloodbath, they will see it at the rate things are going now. It may not be a full-scale thing but, with the interference of others who do not care about our welfare, they will get what they wish.
At that point, they may have no country to live in and nothing to reform any more.
Once upon a time, these were the people who denounced the actions of the Americans who declared themselves to be the police of the world.
Look at things now. Just because a leader has been sacked, they are willing to sell their souls to people whose actions they have previously loathed? Why must we play puppet to them?
They are only too willing to "help" because, after all, if they succeed, there will no longer be anybody who will criticise and condemn them aloud for their mischievous and tyrannical actions.
They throw their weight around, trying to force their principles on others when they themselves keep on breaching and not practising these principles.
They love situations like this when it can benefit them. There are other flagrant breaches of human rights throughout the world, but what do they do?
Do we really believe that they really care about us -- an Asian nation where the official religion is Islam?
Wake up, Malaysians! What did the Americans do when the Bosnians were slaughtered, when people were systematically murdered in Kosovo?
When did America or the West ever care about us? We must grow up and stand on our own feet.
If the country is in turmoil tomorrow, and we the people lose our ability to feed ourselves and our children, do we think that these people will come and feed us?
They won't and we still have to feed ourselves.
Before it all turns rotten, please, fellow Malaysians, stop and think for a while -- will the demonstrations and the violence be worth the while when we might even lose our sovereignty.
If we are in a bad shape now, it is our own wrongdoing. We elected our leaders and they are answerable to us and there will come a time when we can demand the answers. But not with violence, for violence is never a solution.
Letters To the Editor
I AM a foreigner working here for the past 10 years. I would like to encourage all Malaysians to take time to reflect on how blessed you are.
Malaysia has enjoyed peace and prosperity all these years under able and industrious leaders.
My country is only beginning to get used to the word "freedom" after years under a suppressive one-man rule -- the "Marcos Regime."
These riotings will do more harm than good to your nation. Your government was elected freely. True, there are weaknesses, but which government is perfect?
There is abundance of food, no one is starving and you need not travel thousand of miles to earn a living in a foreign land -- unlike us.
The Philippine President, Joseph Estrada, should have put his short time in Malaysia to better use. He should have spent the time visiting us, his people. Many of us have not been home for years. We are the ones who need his support and concern.
Stand behind your leaders. Give them the support they need to work things out.
Letters To The Editor
THANK you Mr Al Gore! When a guest steps into the host's home, he is expected to be courteous and well mannered.
Isn't that what all the mothers in the world teach their children to be?
In fact, Gore, who was not the actual invited guest, should have been more humble and apologetic to his host, being only a representative of the said guest when he stepped into Malaysia.
I guess Gore expected praises after his infamous speech in Kuala Lumpur but found himself hit from all sides by the real brave Malaysians who had not spoken before.
However, we must thank Gore for all that he has said.
Thank you, Gore, for bringing us Malaysians together.
We may have our little squabbles, but -- being Malaysians -- we are able to sort them out ourselves.
In any happy family, there is bound to be disagreements here and there but that makes the family grow stronger.
No one can come between family members and cause disunity -- this is one family value Gore should learn from us instead of imposing his egoistic stance on our internal matters.
Thank you Gore for encouraging the brave ones to speak up.
You have helped us to show the world that we Malaysians are one in our stance.
Thank you Gore for letting the world know a new meaning of bravery through us.
Malaysia has shown that bravery means tolerance and speaking up only to protect the family's honour.
Bravery is not about shouting, squabbling, and creating havoc on the streets.
The family does not hear those who impose but listens to the ones who genuinely care for the unity and honour of the family.
Thank you once again, Gore, for showing us the standards you keep for your family.
By now, I guess your family members must be pretty confused with your stance in championing freedom and democracy through violent demonstrations.
What is democracy and freedom when one cannot even walk out without fearing being attacked or robbed? I guess that is why some of your countrymen in some states (or is it all states?) are allowed to carry guns legally to protect their freedom and democratic rights.
Being a good host, we Malaysians would like to say thank you for visiting us.
We are sorry you did not manage to eat our delicious dinner prepared when you left hastily after your speech.
Do come again and try our food and the warmth of our country.
Probably it would then change your perception of our country which you belittled so much.
Terima kasih. (Gore, do learn this word the next time you come!)
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LETTERS AND OPINIONS PAGE 2
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