Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s apology for his slip-ups over the course of his long political career shows the former prime minister-turned-Opposition leader has run out of ideas, political activists said.

Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia founder Badrul Hisham Shaharin said the 92-year-old’s apology issued during Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s annual general meeting yesterday reeked of desperation after trying and failing all other options.

“If it was honest, Dr Mahathir would have done it sooner. Perhaps right after leaving Umno or even when he started joining the Opposition but he didn’t because he thought he was strong and invincible then.

“Now it appears as if he is willing to do anything to achieve his political ambitions and it includes issuing a public apology,” Badrul Hisham, popularly known as Chegubard, told Malay Mail when contacted.

He said Dr Mahathir’s apology is insufficient and accused the country’s longest-serving prime minister of 22 years of having “robbed” the nation through various scandals, including bailing out Malaysia Airlines in 2001 and Bank Negara Malaysia’s foreign exchange losses in the 1990s.

“If you hurt someone’s feelings by words, then yes, such an apology suffices. But if you steal someone’s money, don’t you think you should return what you stole to its rightful owner first?

“Until today Tun M’s family is living a lavish lifestyle, almost like a royal family even, with zero effort from him to restore the people’s wealth,” he claimed.

Badrul Hisham said while Dr Mahathir had contributed a lot as the country’s fourth prime minister, Malaysians cannot just turn a blind eye on the losses suffered as a result of the latter’s decisions while in power.

“His speeches are rhetoric. Not just wealth, his prime ministership even cost our judiciary system to the point where the government had to compensate Lord President Tun Salleh Abas for his unjust removal in 1988.

“If you have never been in power before, you can make as many promises as you want but people have seen you as the prime minister so they can see through all the false promises,” he said.

Malaysia Muda activist Fadiah Nadwa Fikri said promises are easy to make but Dr Mahathir needs to explain what measures the would take to restore freedom of speech and the judiciary if he returns as to power.

“With the election nearing, one could promise anything. However, if he truly seeks to restore these changes, then he needs to tell us what are these concrete measure that he would take to rectify such problems.

“Structural changes in politics and public institutions need an inclusive democracy where the opinion of the people must be taken seriously.

“We also need to ask whether Tun M would be able to include the opinion of others into these structural changes,” she told Malay Mail.

Non-profit group Jaringan Melayu Malaysia president Datuk Azwanddin Hamzah said Dr Mahathir’s apology was a total 180-degree turn from his stand when the latter was prime minister.

He added that if Dr Mahathir admitted to being wrong, this will give a clearer picture to his allies in the Pakatan Harapan bloc about their chairman’s real nature.

“Wan Azizah, Mat Sabu, Lim Guan Eng and many others who are blindly following Tun M’s directions should realise by now that they are on the wrong team,” he said, referring to PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, her Parti Amanah Negara counterpart Mohamad Sabu and the DAP secretary-general respectively.

Azwanddin said it is expected that Dr Mahathir the politician would do whatever it takes to win the people’s support now, even if it means faking a public apology.

“We need to ask him why is he saying sorry now. Is he sincere or for was this just a show for his own personal gain?” he asked.

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