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President Bush Lied, says Mahathir

October 28, 2003
by The Straits Times (Singapore)

Malaysian PM dismisses claims US leader rebuked him over Jew remark

KUALA LUMPUR -- THE President of the United States lied.

That was Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's latest riposte in the continuing exchange over whether he was ticked off by the American leader over his remarks that Jews ruled the world.

'It's the biggest lie. If he had rebuked me, I'm quite sure I would have rebuked him also,' the combative Malaysian leader told reporters here after arriving home from Papua New Guinea yesterday.

'I think he wants to support his officer,' he added, alluding to White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

Mr McClellan told reporters last Monday that President George W. Bush had pulled Dr Mahathir aside at a Bangkok summit to rebuke him for his anti-Semitic remarks. A day later the Malaysian PM insisted it did not happen.

But Mr Bush told reporters afterwards that he had indeed put the point across to Dr Mahathir personally that he thought the comments about Jews were 'reprehensible'.

Yesterday, Dr Mahathir not only accused Mr Bush of having told the 'biggest lie', he also noted pointedly that someone who could have lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction could also lie about what was said to him.

This was a clear reference to Mr Bush's statements about Iraq's cache of banned weapons, which are yet to be found.

Despite the exchanges, Dr Mahathir brushed off the controversy as a minor issue. What was important, he said, was the opportunity to present his views during the APEC meeting on the need for the restructuring of the international financial regime.

He reiterated earlier remarks that the international outcry proved his point that Jews controlled the world.

'I think it is true that the Jews control the world through proxy and if you say anything against the Jews, then they are going to accuse you of being anti-Semitic and will try to stop investment from coming into this country,' he told reporters.

But he said Malaysia would not be blackmailed into silence.

'I don't think we should allow ourselves to be blackmailed by them, 'If you do not say nice things, I will not invest in your country, I'll pull out my investment'. That is blackmail.

'This is the kind of pressure they put (on us). I don't see why people should get annoyed with what I said, which is absolutely true,' he said.

Following Dr Mahathir's remarks - made at the recent Organization of Islamic Conference Summit in Kuala Lumpur - a US-based Jewish lobby group, the Simon Weisenthal Center, called for a boycott of tourism and investment in Malaysia.

The Malaysian Premier yesterday also took more potshots at Australia - which has been tagged by Mr Bush as Washington's 'sheriff' in the region.

He said he disagreed with Mr Bush's view that Australia played an important role in ensuring regional peace.

'They have no role whatsoever in maintaining peace, although they are members of the five-power defense pact,' he was quoted by Bernama as saying.

He was referring to the Five Power Defense Arrangements - which groups the defense forces of Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Britain in a loose military framework.

'We don't expect them to help us...But we are still kind enough to allow them to practice here,' he said. -- Bernama

Copyright 2003 Singapore Press Holdings

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