KUALA LUMPUR: This year is going to be a “difficult year” as the strain on racial relations continues, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The 88-year-old former prime minister cautioned that freedom of speech and action must be exercised with care. Racial relations had to be maintained less the country becomes another ‘Egypt’ in terms of riots, he said.
“Things which before did not trouble Malaysia is now troubling us.
“Racial relations are very bad; there are a lot of controversies which before were not present. Maybe before we were less liberal in our views.
“If you give liberty to people who do not understand the meaning of it, then you are going to have trouble.
“What I see in this country is the demand for more and more freedom. The exercise of that freedom is damaging to society,” he said during RTM’s one-hour Hello on Two (HOT) live talk show.
He noted that Malaysia was being assailed by foreigners out to change its system.
“For example, the TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) is going to destroy Malaysia but somehow we do not seem to understand its impact.
“When we do anything, we need to study everything deeply so that we understand exactly what we are dealing with. If we don’t, then 2014 will be a bad year,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said there was no total freedom and absolute freedom would result in anarchy.
“Free speech has its limits. We have to be responsible when making use of free speech just as we have to be responsible when exercising any powers we have.
“If we want freedom, we must understand how to handle it,” he said, adding that social media should be used wisely and not abused to spread lies.
On the abolished Internal Security Act, Dr Mahathir said it was still needed due to the existence of "some extremists."
However, “we don’t need it for people like me as I am nice,” he quipped.
On Comango, Dr Mahathir said the Home Ministry's ban on the coalition of NGOs was justified as freedom had its limits.
Dr Mahathir also reiterated his stance on the Allah issue, stating that the matter should not be raised as it was never used in the peninsular but only by non-Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak.
On price hikes, Dr Mahathir urged the business sector to inform the Government on how the hikes and taxes were affecting them.
“The Government might not know what is happening in the private sector. They could try to influence the Government into cutting down costs.”