Shahbudin Husin said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s open show of defiance in the face of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s campaign to oust him would only provoke the former premier to intensify his attacks.
According to Shahbudin, if Najib maintains his resolve and Dr Mahathir remains true to his character, the Malaysian public will be witnessing a bitter war indeed, “As everyone knows, Mahathir will never back off, will never surrender, will never abandon something he has started,” said Shahbudin.
Does this mean Najib should not reply to Dr Mahathir and should just keep quiet instead?
When, out of respect for Dr Mahathir, the Prime Minister keeps quiet, he is accused of ignoring the issue and of not replying to all the allegations. However, when the Prime Minister does reply as demanded, he is now accused of provoking Dr Mahathir and of prolonging the issue.
No doubt Malaysians have a right to criticise. However, in that same spirit, those who are criticised also have a right to reply. Rights work both ways. We cannot apply the principle that while Malaysians have a right to criticise the Prime Minister the Prime Minister does not have the right to reply.
We have to decide whether we want the Prime Minister to reply or to just keep quiet. You cannot criticise the Prime Minister for keeping quiet and then when he replies you criticise him for replying. This is not how things work in a democracy and a civil society.