Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mahathir: Politicians who sue critics are cowards

Octogenarian former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has hit out at politicians who sue their critics, after he was urged to take legal action against Barry Wain, the author of a critical new book about his long-running premiership.

On his blog, Che Det, Mahathir says that politicians must accept criticism from all quarters as it comes with the territory.

I am leery of politicians who sue their critics. I suspect that what they want is to make the issue sub-judice so as to prevent the critics from attacking them on the issue. This is a cowardly move and in fact proves that the criticisms are fully justified.

A  politician who is convinced of his own integrity and innocence should be able to fend off the attacks by proving that they have no basis in fact. It is up to the people, after hearing both sides to decide on the matter. Shutting the mouth of the critics by abusing the authority of the court of law is no better than Governments which censor or shut down papers which are critical of them.

I share his view that politicians who readily turn to their libel lawyers are often more concerned with preventing genuine criticism than stopping the publication of any supposedly defamatory material.

However, the lady doth protest too much, methinks. During the 22 years when he retained a tight grip on power, Mahathir was hardly a friend of press freedom, outlawing various publications and ensuring that the mainstream media was effectively controlled by the state.

Still, I wonder what Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew, a rival octogenarian political warhorse with a penchant for libel actions, would make of Mahathir's belated conversion to free speech.


  1. Ha haha what a joke.. not that I am for politicians that sue their critics. However Matthair seems recently to be just shooting off his mouth. Perhaps he claims he does not sue critics.. sue when he no longer has power. What did he do to Anwar.. conjure up charges to put him in jail and prevent him from running against him?

  2. Mahathir should have gone further to say those who serve the Japs during WW2 in the midst of visible brutality are worse than cowards, and politicans with such track record are the least trustworthy amongst scums of the earth.

    Is Mahathr losing the sting in his tongue ? lol

  3. Time to move on, Ben. This personal vendetta against Singapore is dampening your journalism career!

  4. Quote of the Day: "Politicians who sue critics are cowards".

    Well said, Dr Mahathir.
    We cannot agree more with your view.

  5. Executing or framing them would be fine though.
    Dude, looks like you don't even check your comments. Perhaps moderating the spam might be a good idea?