PETALING JAYA: Speaking frankly does not mean speaking truthfully, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad of a book by his former deputy Tun Musa Hitam.
Musa, who was deputy prime minister from 1981 to 1986 under Dr Mahathir, dedicated an entire chapter of his book Frankly Speaking to the former premier’s administration, calling it an “abject failure” with no suitable successor being groomed.
Dr Mahathir has slammed the book, saying it blamed him for everything that happened in Umno and the Government.
“Musa naturally does not blame himself for anything. He is as innocent as a newborn child. Which explains why he is so popular,” he wrote on his blog chedet.cc.
According to Dr Mahathir, Musa contested for deputy Umno president against Tengku Razaleigh.
“Musa came to see me to seek my support for his bid. I am prepared to swear on the Quran that he did this,” he added.
Dr Mahathir also countered Musa’s claim that he demanded “absolute loyalty,” citing the many events leading up to Musa’s resignation as deputy prime minister and Umno deputy president.
“I was annoyed as I thought he was the right person to succeed me eventually as PM. I did not expect to be Prime Minister for 22 years at that time. No one did. Certainly not Musa,” he said.
Despite Musa being “obviously not loyal” to him at all, Dr Mahathir said he accepted Musa’s decision to only return as deputy president of the party.
He went on to detail Musa’s eventual “even greater disloyalty”, such as Musa persuading Tengku Razaleigh to contest for Umno presidency at the next party election and he going for the deputy presidency.
“In other words if they won he would be Deputy Prime Minister to Tengku Razaleigh as Prime Minister.
“His assertion now that he would not be in Tengku Razaleigh’s Cabinet is something new. It is absurd,” said Dr Mahathir.
“Despite all these I did not take any action against him. When he did not join Tengku Razaleigh’s Semangat 46, I appointed him as special envoy to the United Nations with ministerial rank.
“Does this make me sound like a man who cannot and could not tolerate anything but absolute personal loyalty as alleged by Musa?” he added.
According to Dr Mahathir, he “never behaved like Najib who demoted, removed and expelled leaders for even mildly questioning him about the 1MDB”.
“Najib now talks about loyalty to the institution of president of Umno. He does not allow contests for president as I did when Musa and Tengku Razaleigh challenged Ghafar and me.
“Anyone not fully supporting him, be they Ministers or civil servants were removed or transferred or medically retired. He is not tolerant as I was. I reserve a right to criticise his intolerance of opposition,” he added.
Dr Mahathir said Musa to cite events or refer to documents, including news reports at the time, if he wanted to be frank.
He ended his post with a dash of his trademark wit, in probable reference to naysayers of his 22-year tenure as prime minister.
“Yes, I did call Mohamed Rahmat “Mat Bulat” because he was stout. I did not mind people calling me “bomoh”. I thought it was a friendly reference to my profession,” he concluded.
Tan Sri Mohamed, father of deputy home minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, served in various capacities in Dr Mahathir’s Cabinet.