By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has condemned the killing of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, calling the murder an “unacceptable form of tyranny” to silence critics.
The prime minister said Malaysia is against any killing of government critics.
“The killing of Khashoggi is a form of tyranny which can’t be accepted. We all know people we don’t like, but we can’t go and kill them.
“I was critical of the government too. If we had used the Arab system, I would have been killed. We do not support the murder of government critics,” he said at Sinar Harian’s Bicara Minda in Shah Alam yesterday.
The 93-year-old was asked to comment on Khashoggi’s murder, which had sparked outrage and condemnation throughout the globe. But some countries have been reluctant to criticise Saudi Arabia in what was alleged as the state’s involvement in the murder of one of Riyadh’s critics.
Khashoggi, a journalist and Washington Post columnist, vanished two weeks ago in a saga that has gotten more mysterious by the day.
The 59-year-old was last seen on Oct 2 walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. He was never seen alive again.
Khashoggi had been critical of his country’s government. He is dead, but the manner of his murder remains shrouded with various versions emerging including an accidental death during interrogation.
Turkish sources and an audio recording suggest that he was murdered in the consulate by a team of Saudi agents linked to Crown Prince Mohammed Salman, Saudi Arabia’s most powerful figure.
US President Donald Trump has so far been hesitant to cast blame on the Saudi government, even after reports that the kingdom was going to claim it killed Khashoggi accidentally. But in recent days, he’s signalled a possible shift in that stance, telling reporters it “certainly looks” like the journalist is dead and vowing severe consequences if Saudi’s royals are found to have been responsible in the murder.
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to reveal the details related to the killing of the Saudi Arabian journalist.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said the government is not on the defensive despite the wide media backlash which had highlighted the inefficiencies of the Pakatan Harapan administration.
He said the media has the right to criticise the government and pose questions which ministers must “know how to answer”.
Dr Mahathir said he has never declined any queries posed by the media throughout his 22-year leadership.
“We must be tolerant. We have to listen to others’ opinion. We can learn a lot from criticisms. The Opposition plays an important role. If they are not critical, we will go off track.
“If their criticisms are baseless, we should be able to fend against them. If we can answer their questions, people will know that their arguments are not really on point,” he said.
“There is no secret now in this time and age. We can’t hide what we do. Whenever we do something, we must think that people will know. That way we will be more cautious.
“What we say today, the world can know tomorrow thanks to modern technology,” he said.