Advice to Anwar Ibrahim to be more rational in his public statements and reactions

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, MP for Tanjong and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, August 20, 1986:

Advice to Anwar Ibrahim to be more rational in his public statements and reactions

Education Minister and UMNO Youth leader, Anwar Ibrahim, was carrying out his duty when he denied and hit out a rumours circulating in the country about the impending stepping down of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed.

I would even go along with him and agree that this is the work of mischievous elements in the country.

However, he should be more rational and responsible in his public statements and reactions, for he suggested that the Opposition (which I presume includes the DAP) as likely to have started the rumours because of its disappointment to deny the Barisan Nasional two-third majority in the recent general elections.

In actual fact, rumours about the ‘terminal’ date for the stepping down of Dr. Mahathir circulated as far back as rarely this year, and the earliest ‘terminal’ date I had heard was June 1 for Dr. Mahathir to step down. According to rumours then, there had been heavy betting on this June 1 ‘terminal’ date, but I had always dismissed such rumours as baseless, whether about the impleting resignation or the heavy betting.

I am surprised myself that soon after the August 3 elections results, new rumours spread, again accompanied about heavy bettings, about the ‘terminal’ dates for the stepping down of Dr. Mahathir, sometime given as Sept. 1, and sometime by January 1, next year.

I myself cannot understand the reason for the strong rumours about the stepping down of Dr. Mahathir when he had won four-fifth parliamentary majority, although he did not get two-thirds of the popular votes, and whenever I was asked about the rumours during my post-election tour of the various state, I had made clear that it is completely baseless.

I am sure Anwar Ibrahim must have heard about these runours which were spreading in the country before the August 3 general elections, or his intelligence system and that of the government must be very faulty and defective.

What national leaders should give some thought to is why the people seem so easy to be taken in by these rumours. I can think of at least two reasons: Firstly, there is a total lack of public credibility in the organs of government and in particular the mass media, which had failed to report events happening in the country, as best illustrated by the Bahasa Malaysia and English press during the 1986 general elections.

Secondly, it reflects the lack of confidence in the government and leadership despite the August 3 general elections victory of the Barisan Nasional.

I do not know who started and spread these rumours, which keep being revised, about the ‘terminal dates’ for the stepping down of Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, and I do not play Anwar’s game by putting the blame on the malcontents in the Barisan Nasional component parties. But I think even more important than these rumours is why such rumours seem so credible to the people. It shows a sick society and system, which must be the responsibility of all national leaders to address themselves to, urgently and rationally.