21 July 2013

Malaysia's grand old man of politics Tun Dr Mahathir opened up in an interview to say that direct cash grants did not help the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) in Election 2013 as people thought it was rightfully their own money.

In an interview carried in Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia's Sunday edition, the country's longest-serving prime minister answered leading questions on the political and social scene.

He was asked about BN's efforts to do everything to court support from voters including ensuring all races received aid but was not reflected in the May 5 general election results.

"Actually, what was given was not effective," Dr Mahathir told the interviewer in the Mingguan Malaysia article today.

"For those who receive the aid, they were not thankful, especially opposition supporters who thought it was their own money anyway. That is tax money and not government money or BN's," he added.

Dr Mahathir contrasted the cash aid to his administration between 1981 and 2003.

"Previously, the government ensured an environment that facilitated society to find work, conduct business, investment and others that the people enjoyed. That wasn't government money but we created space and a suitable environment for people to make their livelihood.

"Now we see many including graduates who don't have a job yet. Maybe people feel that once they get the cash aid they will be satisfied but actually the money is not enough, it will just last a few days," the still-influential politician said.

BN has given two direct cash aid under the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) plan and promised in their Election 2013 manifesto to give RM1,200 to families who earn less than RM3,000 a month.

Despite that and a slew of other promises, BN lost more seats to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in Election 2013, taking only 133 federal seats to 140 gained in the 2008 general elections.

In another leading question, Dr Mahathir was asked about liberal Malays who have achieved success such as a chief executive and who then condemned other Malays, in what is seen as a reference to AirAsia X's Azran Osman Rani's criticism of Utusan Malaysia for its racially-slanted reports.

"That is a type of Malay who is low quality. This is because their life values have no gratefulness or thanks or gratitude considering that for the Malays, there are many poems about gratitude," the former prime minister replied.

He was also questioned about the growing interference by foreign quarters in the country's internal situation and their real agenda in the matter.

"This is our fault as we cannot control after repealing laws that previously protected the people's and country's interest, such as the ISA.

"But we eliminated the laws to be more liberal but the United States and Britain now have the same laws as the ISA. They can detain people without trial for up to 10 years - and there are no protests - and also passing the death sentence without trial.

"We at least only detain for as long as two years and then we release, we don't kill anyone. Why should we follow people and now that we don't have such laws, many things happen," Dr Mahathir said.

He said an open situation would lead to foreigners trying to influence Malaysian politics.

"For the US, they openly want an administration change and those who are not friendly, they will change.

"In this matter, I think they have a tendency to support Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and they will help him although they haven't shown any hostility with Datuk Seri Najib Razak. But their best choice is still Anwar," Dr Mahathir said.


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