KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — Minister in the Prime Minister Department’s Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz attacked Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad again and called the former Umno president the “father of all racism” as the row between the two men over the controversial National Civics Bureau (BTN) continued.
Nazri criticised the former prime minister for being a hypocrite and said: “Who does Mahathir think he is?”
“If he can comment on others, why can’t I comment on him? Who is he? People kept telling me that he’s been in the government for 22 years. Yes but that’s not right for him to abuse people the way he abused the former PM. You mean to say he was the former PM for 22 years he can do anything he likes? I cannot agree and he’s no longer in the government.
“Last time he told us you must support the government. He was a perfect PM, I never complained. It was only after he retired, he started to attack us. He used to tell us, if one day we become a candidate and if we are dropped, we should not be angry because once that person supported us, now it’s time for us to support them.
“What is he doing now? We all supported him before through thick and thin and yet when he retired, he attacks us even worse than the opposition. Today the opposition doesn’t need to do work. Dr M is the only one attacking us. Everything is not right. During Tun Abdullah’s time, everything was not right but he’s a gentleman, he didn’t argue. Now with Najib, there is something wrong. Does he (Mahathir) want to become a PM?” Nazri told reporters at the Parliament lobby.
Nazri said he would never resign because of Dr Mahathir.
“When he wanted to resign before, we told him not to but he wanted to step down. Now he has stepped down, he’s asking me to resign. What for? I’m not going to give him the pleasure of resigning to make him happy because I’m not stupid to fall into his trap,” he said.
Nazri pointed out that if he belongs to a racist party, then Dr Mahathir is the “father of all racism” because he was the president of Umno.
“He’s saying I’m in a racist party so he confirms what I said about him. If he says I’m in a racist party because I’m a member of Umno, then he is the father of all racism, he was the president of Umno for 22 years. It confirms that I said he was a racist. Please give him some other argument lah. As the ex-PM, he should give better suggestions. I feel sorry for him but I will continue,” he added.
Nazri maintained that he was not being disrespectful of Dr Mahathir but pointed out that the former premier should accept that he is also open to criticism.
“This is democracy and free speech. I meant no disrespect to him. It’s just counter-argument to his criticism. There is no need to write to papers to say I’m disrespectful. This is a way out of the argument. Although he is an old man, he got himself involved in a matter that invites criticism from others. Don’t say when I criticise him, I’m being rude,” he said.
He added that Dr Mahathir also criticised the first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman.
“When he criticised Tunku Abdul Rahman, that’s not rude? He taught me. If he does it is OK, but if we do it then it’s rude? In the 1960s he criticised the then PM, so if people do it now, don’t get angry. He’s my teacher,” he said.
Nazri also wondered why Dr Mahathir did not like him since the former premier was the one who appointed him a minister.
“I didn’t force him, I didn’t put a gun to his head and force him. He knows I’m a good minister and I’ve been a minister for three terms. Each time a new PM takes over, there are rumours that I’ll be dropped. I’ve been a minister for 10 years. I only serve the rakyat,” he said.
The former premier and the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department have been at loggerheads over the need to revamp the BTN, which critics charge with cultivating racism instead of its original purpose of nation building.
Nazri had earlier called Dr Mahathir a “bloody racist” for defending BTN courses while reasserting the Cabinet’s earlier decision to overhaul the programme in line with the policy of 1 Malaysia mooted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Nazri also lashed out at Dr Mahathir yesterday and described the former premier’s call for his resignation from the party as the “most stupid statement” that he has ever heard.
Dr Mahathir said that Nazri should resign from Umno because if he was against racism, he should not be in a racist party.