SEOUL, Korea: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has questioned the intentions of those who have objected to the return of former Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) leader Chin Peng’s ashes to Malaysia.
He said it was odd as to why the issue concerning the ashes – which have yet to be verified – has been given more importance than the government’s efforts to develop the country and safeguard its peace.
“Why is there a need to raise this issue? Do they expect us to pick up the ashes and send it back out of the country?” said the Prime Minister during a press conference with the Malaysian media at the end of his five-day official visit to South Korea.
He said there were certain quarters who had raised the issue to smear the government’s name.
“He (Chin Peng) is dead. In the past, we were victims to a lot of people, like the Japanese.
“This is all in the past, there’s nothing he can do now.
“We allowed Shamsiah Fakeh (ex-CPM leader) to return, but no one protested. Is it because she’s Malay? The same applies to Rashid Maidin (senior CPM leader) and many others; whose returns were accepted.
“But now, we couldn’t accept Chin Peng simply because he was the leader,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said it was also possible that the ashes were actually disposed of during the administration of his predecessor, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“Right now, everyone wants to blame the Pakatan Harapan government. How were we to know… the ashes were brought in a flask. How (would) we know what they were carrying? Who’s going to look into the flask and if you did, all you’d see were ashes,” he said.
Commenting on a possible federal cabinet reshuffle, the Prime Minister said he was satisfied with the line-up at the moment.
He said changing ministers would not necessarily be an improvement.
“It might worsen things. So I have to think about it carefully,” he said.
On reports that several ministers had asked for a change in their respective secretaries-general, Dr Mahathir said this involves matters of compatibility between the ministers and their secretaries-general.
“I’ve told them to avoid having any problems with their sec-gens, but for some, they have their reasons. We’ll try to minimise them.
“We’d be in trouble if we had to discard up to eight people. So we have to learn how to work together. This is my advice to Cabinet.
“If we try to build bridges, they will cooperate with us. If we continue to pull long faces, then it’ll be difficult,” Dr Mahathir added.