Saturday 6 October 2012

Fighting nepotism label, Karpal dares Dr M to reveal family assets

GEORGE TOWN, Oct 6 — Stung by charges of nepotism among Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders, Karpal Singh has instead challenged Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today to reveal his and his family assets accumulated before the country’s longest-serving prime minister retired in 2003.

The DAP national chairman also hit out at the Umno-controlled New Straits Times report, saying the federal constitution guaranteed that all citizens are equal and can take part in politics, including children of political leaders. But he said that Dr Mahathir’s children advanced economically under the former prime minister’s time in office.

“They are all multi-millionaires and when he was PM, he made sure he put them in all right places, in the right context. He himself is a millionaire,” Karpal (picture) was quoted as saying by the Malaysiakini news portal in Air Itam, here.

The veteran politician and lawyer hoped that Dr Mahathir would accept his challenge to reveal the latter’s assets, adding that if all his accounts are in order, “he has nothing to fear”.

“Or else, he has lots to fear when Pakatan comes to power. This does not constitute a threat but a firm reminder to be careful in whatever he says,” Karpal said.

His comments came after the New Straits Times carried a report headlined ‘Nepotism in opposition worrying’ with photographs of PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, his daughter Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, Karpal himself and his son, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, and Ipoh Timur MP Lim Kit Siang and his son Penang chief minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

Karpal noted that Lim’s son Guan Eng has proven himself to be of capable leadership in Penang. Guan Eng is the first-term chief minister of Penang, one of the four states won by PR in Election 2008.
“These accusations of nepotism are not correct,” said the Bukit Gelugor MP.

He also pointed out that Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders also had their children in politics, pointing out to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who entered politics after his father, Malaysia’s second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, died in 1976. Dr Mahathir’s son, Jerlun MP Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, also took an active part in politics after his father retired.

Several followers of Anwar had borrowed the popular Indonesian catchphrase “Corruption, cronyism and nepotism” in the 1998 Umno general assembly in what was seen as an attempt to unseat Dr Mahathir, who was then party president and prime minister.

But Dr Mahathir turned the tables on his critics and revealed lists of people who benefitted from government largesse and contracts. Anwar was then sacked on sodomy and abuse of power charges and later jailed. He was released in 2004 and has campaigned against the BN, leading PR to a historic win of four more states and 82 federal seats in the 2008 elections.

A general election is due by mid-2013 and critics, including the global business weekly The Ecoomist have described Najib as “dithering” over the polls.

In a CNBC interview aired today, Najib said he wanted a strong mandate in the next elections but offered no clues over the date.

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