KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad this morning congratulated Umno for its success in convincing Putrajaya to retain the Sedition Act, but criticised the party for ignoring other national issues during its general assembly last week.
The former prime minister expressed dismay that the anchor party of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition neglected to discuss matters of national concern such as the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), the education system, and the growing debt of sovereign wealth fund 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
“I congratulate Umno and its president for listening and caring about public opinion regarding the retention of the Sedition Act.
“But I am saddened that many other complaints and grouses of the public has not changed the stand of Umno and the government,” he wrote on his personal blog today.
Reiterating his warning about the threat the free-trade deal posed to the country’s sovereignty, Dr Mahathir said it was disappointing to see that the government still appeared intent on signing the agreement despite widespread opposition.
The former Umno president took aim at his party for failing to raise the issue of education, which he said was worsening the disparity between the rich and the poor.
“The rich go to English schools, gain knowledge that is important and find work easily. The poor go to national schools, where the mastery of English is weak and are lagging in science and advanced mathematics,” he lamented.
The vocal proponent of English, who introduced the now-discontinued policy of teaching of Science and Mathematics in the language during his administration, also cautioned against lowering examination standards simply for the appearance of excellence, saying this was detrimental despite the popularity of such moves.
Last Thursday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak declared that the Sedition Act 1948 will remain, in an about-turn from his earlier pledge in 2012 to repeal the colonial era law.
In his policy speech at the start of the 65th Umno General Assembly, he said the decision was made after consultation with party leaders, NGOs and grassroots members.
Najib also said the Act will be reinforced with two additional provisions governing the sanctity of Islam and outlawing secessionists in Sabah and Sarawak.