Wednesday, February 3, 1999
Dollah: PM a ready listenerBy Shahanaaz Sher Habib and P. Bala Kumar
KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad is a leader who always listens to the views of others and exchanges opinions, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the perception that Dr Mahathir was autocratic, stubborn and power crazy was totally wrong.
"Dr Mahathir is someone who listens patiently to other peoples' views and after that, he is willing to discuss these views with the people concerned. That is a fact.
"This is the kind of atmosphere we have at our weekly Cabinet meetings.
"I told a friend that if Cabinet meetings were videotaped and aired, there would definitely be many fans because of the atmosphere," he said in an interview which was aired live over RTM last night.
Citing an example, he said during the height of the Rulers Constitutional crisis, the then Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman had put forward a proposal to the Cabinet for an amendment which would give absolute power to the Prime Minister.
"My friends and I in the Cabinet looked at each other and we felt takut (afraid) and gerun (fearful) of such a power.
"Dr Mahathir looked at us for our reaction and before we could say anything, he rejected the proposal and said: 'I don't want this. This is not what I want. This is not the power that I ask for."
Abdullah said Dr Mahathir then explained that such absolute power could cause problems and was open to abuse.
To another question, he said the wrong perception was possibly because Dr Mahathir did not mince his words and had always called a spade a spade.
On his appointment as Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullah said he had no clue that he was going to be chosen until the announcement was made at the Umno supreme council meeting on Jan 8.
"I was not told about it at all. The Prime Minister had invited me to his office and asked my views on the Deputy Prime Minister issue and of Umno wanting him to pick a deputy," he said.
He, however, added that Dr Mahathir had also spoken to both Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah about the matter.
Pledging to work hard to fulfil the aspirations of the people in his new post, Abdullah said it was a responsibility that he took seriously.
"In this country there is only one Prime Minister. There is no alternative Prime Minister.
"We have only one general not two. So there should not be confusion in giving directions."