Mahathir urges patriotism on National Day

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. (AP)
Updated 01 September 2019

Mahathir urges patriotism on National Day

  • Mahathir Mohamad made the remarks on the eve of Malaysia’s 62nd National Independence Day celebrations

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s prime minister has condemned “ugly and disgusting” behavior online, urging citizens to show respect toward each other.

Mahathir Mohamad made the remarks on the eve of Malaysia’s 62nd National Independence Day celebrations in an address on public broadcaster RTM.

The country ranks among the top five globally in terms of internet penetration, with users spending an average of eight hours and five minutes online every day. Almost three hours of this is spent on social media.

“History showed how the country was built on the values of tolerance, noble character, mutual respect and sharing, unselfishness and willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the country,” said Mahathir. 

“But these values should not stop when we achieve independence or progress as we enjoy them today.

“Unfortunately, when we look around us, in our midst of communication and digitalization, good values are being replaced with ugly and disgusting behavior online.”

In defending religion and ethnicity, insults are thrown against other races and religions, he said.

 In defending religion and ethnicity, insults are thrown against other races and religions using profane and abusive language, in return can lead to anger and anxiety, he said.

Malaysia gained independence from Britain in 1957 and its cultural melting pot became the backbone of its economic development throughout the decades.

But pervasive corruption and racial politics led to discontent with the previous Barisan Nasional government, resulting in last year’s surprise election win by the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Mohamad and his government are harking back to his previous stint in office, in the 1980s and 1990s when the country experienced rapid industralization, by releasing a music video to remind people of the good times.

His administration has also adopted a theme — “Love Our Malaysia: A Clean Malaysia” — to refocus people’s attention to the damage wrought by corruption and efforts to tackle it.

The former prime minister, Najib Razak, has been hit with 42 criminal charges of graft and money laundering at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and other state entities.

1MDB, founded by Najib in 2009, is being investigated in at least six countries, and the US Department of Justice says about $4.5 billion was misappropriated from the fund. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

“What we hope is to ‘clean’ the country from corruption that can thwart our efforts to bring peace and stability to all citizens,” said Mohamad. “One of the biggest disasters in the country is corruption and it also involves the civil service.”


Sanders attacked for past praise of communist regimes

Updated 26 February 2020

Sanders attacked for past praise of communist regimes

  • Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg all seized on visits Sanders made to the USSR, the Sandinista-controlled Nicaragua and Fidel Castro’s Cuba in the 1980s
  • Joe Biden: He (Sanders) seems to have found more inspiration in the Soviets, Sandinistas, Chavistas, and Castro than in America

WASHINGTON: Bernie Sanders’ past praise of communist regimes like Cuba and the Soviet Union has come back to haunt him, his rivals for the Democratic White House nomination seeking to paint the frontrunner as a friend of left-wing dictators.
Fellow Democratic hopefuls Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg all seized on visits Sanders made to the USSR, the Sandinista-controlled Nicaragua and Fidel Castro’s Cuba in the 1980s as evidence he is a threat to the US democratic and capitalist system.
Sanders, who describes himself as a “democratic socialist,” was pressed on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program on Sunday about positive comments he made three decades ago about communist states, particularly his statement that Castro had vastly improved education and health care in Cuba.
“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba, but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad,” the 78-year-old politician said.
“When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?“
Biden, who Sanders has edged out as the 2020 Democratic frontrunner, fired back:
“Make no mistake: Bernie Sanders’ comments on Fidel Castro are a part of a larger pattern throughout his life to embrace autocratic leaders and governments across the globe,” the centrist former vice president said in a statement.
“He seems to have found more inspiration in the Soviets, Sandinistas, Chavistas, and Castro than in America.”
Buttigieg compared Sanders to President Donald Trump who he said has “cozied up to dictators,” adding the country needs a leader “who will be extremely clear in standing against regimes that violate human rights abroad.”
With Sanders in pole position heading into South Carolina’s primary this weekend, the controversy offers his rivals a precious chance to halt his momentum when they clash on the debate stage later on Tuesday.
Sanders’ alignment with the far left in US politics has always left him vulnerable to attack; Trump and other Republicans have branded him a “communist.”
But his Cuba comments have come to the forefront in the fight for voter support in Florida, home to a large Cuban-American population strongly opposed to Castro’s regime and holding substantial political sway in the southern state.
Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor, targeted that electorate as he tweeted that Castro “left a dark legacy of forced labor camps, religious repression, widespread poverty, firing squads, and the murder of thousands of his own people.”
“But sure, Bernie, let’s talk about his literacy program,” Bloomberg said.
Sanders’ denies any support for dictators. Critics say his record suggests otherwise.
As mayor of the small city of Burlington, Vermont, he visited Nicaragua in 1985 and afterward hailed Daniel Ortega’s revolution against the Central American country’s landowner elite.
That was a view commonly held among the American left, especially as the administration of Ronald Reagan supported the right-wing Nicaraguan Contra fighters accused of numerous terror-like atrocities.
In 1988 Sanders visited Russia seeking to establish a sister-city pact with Yaroslavl, northeast of Moscow.
It was hardly unique: there were several dozen US-USSR sister city relationships at the time, according to Sister Cities International.
Upon his return, Sanders applauded Russian gains in health care, while adding they were 10 years behind the United States.
He said his hosts were friendly and spoke honestly about problems, especially in housing and struggling industries.
He offered no praise of the government and communist system, and noted Russians very much liked Reagan, who had just days earlier held a summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, which Sanders called “a major step forward for humanity.”
Likewise after visiting Cuba in 1989, Sanders praised its achievements in education and health care, calling Castro’s revolution “profound,” but also noting the lack of political freedoms.
“The question is how you bring both economic and political freedom together in one society,” he said at the time, according to the Rutland Daily Herald.
Sanders’ position echoes that of president Barack Obama, who reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015, with Biden as his vice president.
Obama said on a landmark 2016 Havana visit that the government “should be congratulated” for its achievements in education and health care — while criticizing its human rights violations and communist-rooted economy which he said was “not working.”
Sanders told “60 Minutes” that his support for certain achievements in communist countries did not make him a friend of repressive leaders.
“I don’t trade love letters with a murdering dictator,” he said, referring to Trump’s friendship with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
Whether that carries with Cuban voters in Florida remains an open question.