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Media Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Tuesday, 29th January 2008:

Mahathir should be recalled to the RCI on Lingam Tape as his comments on Suharto’s death shows that he has recovered his “elephant memory”

Former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has clearly recovered his “elephant memory” from his comments on the death of former Indonesian President Suharto.

Mahathir told Bernama that accounts the former Indonesian leader killed some 500,000 people after taking power in 1965 were "absolute nonsense".

He said: "I know this for a fact. I knew what happened. Indonesia was in a state of anarchy then and he has no authority. At the time of the killings, he was not even the president. He did not order the killing."

Mahathir, who ruled for two decades before stepping down in 2003, said he regarded Suharto as a friend of Malaysia and a personal friend.

"We looked up to him as a great leader and as an international statesman. For me, it's quite personal. I know him and I have worked with him for a very long time.

"Even though Indonesia was not an ideal democracy during Suharto's time, the fact remained that he brought stability to Indonesia."

Mahathir added: "Of course, there is a price to be paid," acknowledging that some people had suffered under Suharto's administration.

Without getting into a debate on Mahathir’s assessment of Suharto’s leadership of Indonesia, it is good to see Mahathir’s recovery from his recent lapse of memory. He gave his comments on Suharto with confidence and authority, in total command of his memory.

This was very unlike his appearance before the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Lingam Tape eleven days ago on January 17, when he had to repeatedly plead loss of memory in his 90-minute testimony.

Asked why he rejected the recommendation of the then Chief Justice, Tun Dzaiddin Abdullah to appoint Dr. Andrew Chew Peng Hui and Zainuddin Ismail as judges, Mahathir replied: “I don’t remember my reasons.”

Asked whether he could recall that before Ahmad Fairuz was recommended as chief judge of Malaya, Dzaiddin had nominated Malek Ahmad, Mahathir said: “I can’t remember precisely.”

There was this Q & A between Mahathir and Dzaiddin’s counsel, Wong Chong Wah:

Wong: Do you remember whether, when Dzaiddin recommended Malek Ahmad, you rejected his suggestion?

Dr Mahathir: I can't remember him recommending to me.

Wong: A letter dated Aug 19, 2002, from Dzaiddin to you, suggests that he had made an earlier recommendation for Malek Ahmad to be chief judge of Malaya. Did you agree to Dzaiddin's recommendation at that stage?

Dr Mahathir: I don't remember whether I agreed or not. I've read this letter but I don't recall any decision I made on Malek Ahmad.

Now that Mahathir has recovered his “elephant memory” he should be recalled to the RCI on Lingam Tape to throw light on the many dubious and devious decisions he made affecting the judiciary particularly during the last 15 years of his 22-year premiership where he single-handedly destroyed national and international confidence in the independence, integrity and quality of the judiciary.

* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman


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