Monday, February 21, 2011

Tun Dr Mahathir – abdicating his past unpleasant deeds?

By: Choo Sing Chye

For the past few months we have been seeing a seemingly similar pattern of white washing unpleasant deeds of the bygone era of Tun Dr Mahathir.

First it was the Papan Radioactive dump site issue then came the white washing of the Operation Lalang and now this – the abolition of ISA.

If one were to look carefully at these three issues, one could easily come to a conclusion that they hold a firm testimony of his desire to create an aura of innocence for himself.

In this article I wish to revisit some of Mahathir’s respond on the Papan radio active dump site issue (Star Online - 15 May 2010) which I believe is none other than yarn that is craftily spun.

Was he that reluctant and innocent at that time?

Definitely no! Here you will see why.

Mahathir: "In Malaysia, we do have nuclear waste which perhaps the public is not aware of . . .” "It is not radioactive but it is not good to handle. We had to bury it in Perak, deep in the ground… But the place is still not safe, and we have almost one square mile that is dangerous." (Star Online - 15 May 2010)

As always his style to show distaste at those who opposed him, he wittingly chose the “World Environment Day, 5th June 1984, to announce that his government would go ahead with the construction of the controversial radioactive waste dumpsite in Papan and that everything had been done to ensure the radioactive waste dump site was safe.” (1)

On top of this, he mockingly stressed that the government, “could not guarantee the safety of the people if they get in the area, dig the soil, bathe in it or throw it over their head.” (2)

One of his Cabinet Minister, Datuk Amar Stephen Yong, verging on absurdity alleged that “there is no way any radiation can affect anybody. People don’t really understand, but the government is concerned about their health and the environment.” (3)

Again with gusto, he defended the premier’s unattainable position by challenging critics of the proposed Papan nuclear dump to prove that it is hazardous to health and environment.” (4)

Mahathir: “(I) did not know exactly where in Perak the Amang (Thorium Hydroxide) was buried… We had to bury it in Perak, deep in the ground… Maybe it is a national secret but I know for a fact that we buried this activated material." (Star Online - 15 May 2010)

After a total rejection of the first nuclear dump site by the people of Papan and the surrounding areas, the government grudgingly decided to shift it to another new site.

In 1986 , the Perak Menteri Besar made an announcement that the nuclear waste site was to be shifted to a new place situated in the Kledang Hills 4.8 km from Papan and 3.2 km from Menglembu.

The new proposed site was approved by the CABINET before the Perak Menteri Besar made the announcement to the people. The site was selected by the Geological Survey Department, Minister of Health, Department of Environment and Puspati.

The proposed site should not be a secret to Mahathir because it was his Cabinet that approved the site in the first place with the endorsement of two very critical departments, the Geological Survey Department and PUSPATI. Moverover, the new site was explicitly announced by the Menteri Besar of Perak in the media.

But one mystery (not national secret) still lingers in the minds of people in Papan and Menglembu as to the question of the factory’s action to employ contractors to dump the radio active waste illegally?

Dr Sadao Ichikawa’s on his second visit to Ipoh on the 27th September 1986, found radio active Thorium Waste indiscriminately dumped around the areas not far from the factory with dangerously high radio active readings?

And worst, on further questioning by Dr Sadao Ichikawa, the factory contractor admitted that he and other contractors with their fleet of lorries had dumped (not buried) radio active Thorium Waste in places other than the proposed new site.

These illegal dumpings were fully reported by all the mainstream newspapers and as Dr Sadao Ichikawa and another Japanese journalist, Manami Susuki began to reveal more of this outrageous fact to the public and press, it became the talk of the nation – overnight it became an opened secret.

Apparently with all these manipulations of his past role, he hoped to tailor a new belief system for the purpose of imbedding his newly coined image of a reluctant and innocent actor in the Papan radio active dump site issue just as he had done in the Operation Lalang debacle and the abolition of ISA issue.

It is pointless to white wash a tarnished image, people still remember!

Here is one for you:

Evita, Argentina’s most famous First Lady who was once a prostitute. One day, when protesters taunted her while she was riding in an official car with an elderly Italian admiral, she turned to the admiral and said: “Do you hear that? They are calling me a whore.”

The old admiral turned and said: “Yes, I quite understand. I haven’t been to sea for 15 years and they still call me an admiral.” 5


1. Sahabat Alam Malaysia, “Papan Radioactive Waste Dump Controversy”
(Phoenix Press Sdn. Bhd.) Pg 76

2. ibid.,
3. ibid.,
4. ibid.
5. “The World’s Greatest Sex and Scandals,” (Mackays of Chatham – 2001, 2002) Pg 329

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