Opposition and activists seek probe of ex-PM for abuse of power
KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIAN activists and opposition leaders yesterday called for former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to be charged in court for abuse of power during his 22-year reign.
Datuk Param Cumaraswamy, former UN special rapporteur on judicial independence, this week publicly urged the government to act against Tun Dr Mahathir based on testimony by the anti-corruption watchdog.
'Mahathir must be charged. He must be held accountable,' he told AFP.
Datuk Param said that during the corruption trial of former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, the former anti-corruption agency head Shafee Yahya told the court that Tun Dr Mahathir ordered him to close a 2000 probe into a top government official.
'From Shafee's evidence in court, Mahathir virtually scuttled the investigations,' Datuk Param said.
Legal experts said abuse of power is a criminal act carrying a penalty of 14 years' imprisonment.
The calls for the former premier to be investigated came from the 82-year-old former leader himself.
Last week, Tun Dr Mahathir wrote an open letter to Malaysians asking for some cases linked to the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi to be probed by 'credible foreign agencies' in order for it to clear its name.
Added Tun Dr Mahathir: 'Now my detractors are going to say I did worse things when I was prime minister. Well if that is so, let us have the foreign agencies investigate me also.'
[Comment: It is embarassing to see Dr M pawn his dignity and his legacy to attempt to bring down Abdullah in a wrongheaded belief that it is for the good of Malaysia and UMNO (or is it the other way around?). It is also an indication of how far gone his reasoning is when he would subject Malaysia's govt to the investigation of "foreign agencies". How would he feel if he sought the UN's help in this investigation and the UN appointed Singapore, or a Singaporean to head the investigation? Hmm?]
Since the March 8 general election, in which the ruling coalition lost a third of parliamentary seats and five states, Tun Dr Mahathir has shot back into the headlines with a campaign to topple his successor, Datuk Seri Abdullah.
Mr Lim Kit Siang, adviser of the opposition Democratic Action Party, said there should be an inquiry into alleged abuses of power during the former premier's tenure, which he said had undermined institutions like the judiciary.
Mr Ezam Mohamad Nor, chairman of the anti-corruption group Gerak, also joined the calls for an inquiry.
'PM Abdullah should make sure the country's anti-corruption watchdog and the judiciary are independent. If there is enough evidence, Mahathir should be charged,' he said.