Mahathir 'unafraid' of possible inquiry

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2008, 12:00am

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has re-emerged on the Malaysian political scene as a crusader to revive the fortunes of the battered Umno party, said he was willing to be investigated after calls for an inquiry into his time in office.

'I am not afraid. I am ready to face an inquiry commission. I have nothing to hide,' he said in a letter to newspapers published yesterday.

Since last week, lawyers, blaming him for many misdeeds, have called for a thorough public inquiry into his 22-year rule.

At Monday night's rally, Anwar Ibrahim repeated the demands while accusing Dr Mahathir of corruption and theft of government funds.

'We need a full and through public inquiry into all his misdeeds,' Mr Anwar told about 20,000 cheering supporters. 'I have been very patient but I am forced to reply,' he said, referring to attacks on his character by Dr Mahathir in which he was described as a 'Jew-lover' and lackey of the west. According to government sources, a 'high-level' team is already going through Mahathir-era documents with a view to possible prosecution.

Dr Mahathir himself alluded to a possible inquiry last month when he urged his supporters not to be 'surprised' if he was framed and prosecuted.

'Dr Mahathir destroyed the judiciary, emasculated the media and jailed hundreds of political opponents,' Mr Anwar told Monday night's rally. 'He should explain his involvement in various corrupt practices, serious mismanagement, stealing government funds through the destruction of many government-controlled companies.'

He also accused Dr Mahathir of trying to oust Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi to ensure a crony takes power and protects him and his family from exposure and prosecution.