On Saturday, June 24 I attended former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's talk at a country club in Taman Melawati, Ulu Klang. The hall was packed with more than 500 people, who were interested to hear from the horses's mouth the issues raised by the Tun.
The function was organised by non-governmental organisations and the internet portal Malaysia-today.com. It was not, as reported by practically all the media, by the opposition parties or by former Umno activist Ibrahim Ali. The opposition leaders from the Islamic party PAS and KeAdilan as well as Ibrahim Ali attended the talk, open to the public free of charge.
Former cabinet minister and ex-Umno information chief Megat Junid Megat Ayob and former deputy minister Farid Ariffin and Umno ulama Othman El Muhammadi were also there apart from academicians from local institutions of higher learning, businessmen, students and journalists.
Being an Umno member for the last 35 years, I realised that about 70 per cent of the audience were Umno members. Thus it was wrong to say that it was an Opposition-led function as claimed by several Umno cabinet ministers such as Nazri Aziz, the self-appointed cabinet spokesman.
The Opposition were already there and Dr Mahathir was invited by the organisers and not by the Opposition. Must Dr Mahathir leave the function just because the Opposition were there?
After the slightly more than two-hour talk, Dr Mahathir was ushered to a holding room for refreshments. Opposition personalities from PAS sat around him and media photographers had a field day with their cameras.
The Umno leaders, for various reasons, did not sit around Dr Mahathir. Maybe, they do not want to be seen as closely associated with the former prime minister, who knows.
Nazri Aziz was quick to accuse Dr Mahathir of "sekongkoling" or collaborating with bad intention with the Opposition. He was followed with almost similar comments by Azalina Othman Said (the tomboy brought into the national political arena by Dr Mahathir), Muhyiddin Yassin, Ali Rustam, Khaled Nordin (right-hand man of Shahrir Samad), Syed Hamid Albar (opposed Mahathir during the Umno 'A' and 'B' Teams power struggle) and other low ranking Umno leaders. These are the same people that rushed to kiss Dr Mahathir's hand when he was the prime minister. What a shame!
It is sad to note that Umno leaders serving in the cabinet under Dr Mahathir and now under Abdullah Badawi, were not only ungrateful but for their own vested interests, criticised Dr Mahathir in such a rude manner which was unbecoming of a Malay and a Muslim.