PETALING JAYA: Veteran politician Daim Zainuddin has sought to defend Dr Mahathir Mohamad from a perceived attempt to show the former prime minister as the person solely responsible for the fall of Pakatan Harapan (PH) from power.
Referring to Tommy Thomas’ recently released memoirs, he said it was unfair of the former attorney-general to lay the blame squarely at Mahathir’s feet because “there is the concept of collective responsibility” in government.
In his book, Thomas claims that PH’s downfall after 22 months in power was due to Mahathir’s inaction in the face of racial and religious attacks against the coalition.
In an email exchange with FMT, Daim acknowledged Thomas’ right to record his observations but said he believed Malaysians were aware that Mahathir wielded less power as prime minister during his second tenure than he did during his first.
“He did not have the might of Umno backing him as he did in his previous stint,” he said.
“He had to govern by consensus. In fact, he was stymied at almost every corner by members of his own coalition, with their individual personal party politics overshadowing the national agenda.”
Daim said governing by consensus meant that members of the Cabinet as well as government backbenchers should share the blame for the failure of the coalition to address issues that arose.
“For instance, racism surely cannot be resolved through the actions of one man. Everyone has to work together to resolve this very serious issue.
“It is very simplistic and exceedingly unfair to place the problem of racism squarely on one man’s shoulders. We all have a role to play if we really love our country.”
Daim was chairman of the Council of Eminent Persons that PH formed after it took power in May 2018.
He said the public should always support those doing a good job.
“We cannot function or operate alone. We must always give credit to our team. For those in leadership positions, it is their duty to bring out the best in their team and give credit where it is due.”
Commenting on the publication of Thomas’ book, Daim claimed to belong to the school that believed people were entitled to write what they pleased.
He said he considered Thomas a friend.
“However, Tommy must be able to defend himself. He is a practising lawyer and, as a former AG, he should know the law better than most.
“He is clearly writing from his own observations and making his own conclusions.”
He said some people’s unhappiness with the book appeared to “circle around the fact that he may not be aware of the full history and the complete story and has made some rather rushed conclusions”.