Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today denied Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria asked him not to sack Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in 1998 but added he would ignored the advice even if it was given.In a blog posting today, the former prime minister reasoned that at the time, witnesses had already convinced him of Anwar’s sodomy crimes and he was not prepared to accept an “immoral” person as his successor.
“Even if the Mufti did advise me, and I deny that he did, I would not be able to take that kind of advice.
“The learned Mufti may be prepared to accept an immoral person to become the Prime Minister of Malaysia. I am sorry but I hold my responsibility as an ‘amanah’, a trust, and I never can be prepared to accept an immoral prime minister,” he wrote.
The Malaysian Insider published Harussani’s statement last month saying he had attempted to meet with Dr Mahathir 13 years ago to advise him against sacking then deputy prime minister Anwar and against charging him in court for sodomy.
“I would have ignored the claim by the Mufti that he advised me. But the report is in the online news portal and that has political implications unfavourable towards me,” Dr Mahathir complained.
The Perak Mufti had explained that he was concerned back then that Anwar’s sacking would bring about split Malays, and that he had repeatedly cautioned the former prime minister to think about an alternative solution.
“I have told Dr Mahathir to stop (to not do it) but there are three things he would not stop. The first was to sack Anwar. (When that was about to happen), I was barred from meeting the prime minister.
“I said sacking Anwar will not have a small effect it can split the Malays…when he (Dr Mahathir) wanted to charge Anwar for sodomy, I said even I you wanted to sack Anwar do it through a Cabinet reshuffle. Put him in another ministry,” Harussani told a forum on religion.
But Dr Mahathir pointed out today that the he had been “convinced” of Anwar’s sodomy crimes by witnesses, adding that the court case was initiated by “officers responsible, not by me”.
“But supposing no court action was taken, how do I explain why Anwar had to be sacked because he was unsuitable to succeed me as prime minister?
“If I drop him, and I had no choice but to drop him because of his immorality, how do I explain to people? The accusation against me would be that it was political,” he said.
Dr Mahathir added that if he had dropped Anwar without first going to court, the latter would have likely mounted a legal suit against him and embarked on a nationwide campaign to claim he was a victim of a conspiracy to oust him.
“He would hold rallies all over the country to claim that it was all a conspiracy, a plot to stop him from becoming prime minister. Even when the court decided that he was guilty he was still able to convince people that it was all a conspiracy,” he said. Anwar was charged with sodomy and corruption in 1998 after he was sacked from the Cabinet and was later convicted and jailed for both offences.
The Federal Court however overturned his sodomy conviction in 2004 after finding contradictions in the prosecution’s case.