Lee Takes Aim at Mahathir

Business Asia, September 2000 | Go to article overview

Lee Takes Aim at Mahathir


IN REMARKS sure to test the two countries' relations, Singapore Senior Minister and elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew says Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has suffered dearly from errors of judgment in dealing with his former deputy Anwar Ibrahim.

"He (Mahathir) made an error of judgment, several errors of judgment, which I felt were most unfortunate," Lee told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur at the end of a four-day visit to Malaysia. Lee says it was a blunder for police to use the Internal Security Act (ISA), which provides for indefinite detention without trial, to arrest Anwar, who was sacked as deputy prime minister and finance minister in 1998.

Singapore's founding father believes a commission of inquiry should have been established immediately after Anwar was beaten in police custody. Instead, it took months before the police chief admitted to hitting Anwar, who is in jail serving two sentences totalling 15 years.

"As I've said before, it was an unmitigated disaster, and I felt more sorry for Dr Mahathir than I did for Anwar," Lee says. "1 think Dr Mahathir paid a very heavy price, and I feel sorry for him."

Anwar testified in his two trials over corruption and sodomy that Mahathir orchestrated a conspiracy to drive him from government and prevent him from ever attaining power. …

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