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Was it a deliberate attempt to humiliate Dr Mahathir?

Photograph: zaid.my

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Many believe that the move to drop Mahathir from the official list of invitees for the installatation of the new Agong was a deliberate attempt to insult the former premier, says P Ramakrishnan.

This is not our culture of softness and subtlety. This is not our tradition of grace, elegance and refinement. But we chose to be uncouth in our conduct for political purpose. We don’t score brownie points by stooping that low!

There is a lesson in the saying, “There is a set of rules and a code of conduct that I believe that you should adhere to in life.” And it is an important lesson to bear in mind.

When Dr Mahathir was invited a month ago in November to the installation of the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong at Istana Negara on 13 December 2016, it was the right thing to do. The names of invitees would have been vetted through before invitations were sent out. That is the rule. At this stage, it must have been considered and decided that Mahathir was most-deserving to be invited for the occasion – among others.

So the invitation was sent out to Mahathir, who graciously accepted the invitation. That should have been the end of the story.

But it wasn’t so. In a decision that befuddled the mind, this invitation was arbitrarily withdrawn without any reason given. The purported letter dated 5 December 2016, signed by the Keeper of the Ruler’s Seal Syed Danial Syed Ahmad, mentioned that “no seat would be provided at the event for Mahathir and that the former premier was being informed of this beforehand to spare him any embarrassment if he attended.”

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It is very strange that instead of simply withdrawing the invitation, the letter went even further by unnecessarily mentioning that “no seat would be provided at the event” and suggested that he would be embarrassed if he attended the installation.

Was it felt that Mahathir would still stubbornly attend the installation in spite of the invitation being withdrawn? Would Mahathir really do that? Would he be that thick-skinned? Come on, let’s accord that man some decency and dignity!

If he was uninvited with what face would Mahathir insist on going for the ceremony? It is a preposterous assumption that he would.

It is not clear whether this was the decision of the Conference of Rulers. Malaysians are wondering simply because the Rulers are supposed to be apolitical; they are supposed to be above politics. But the decision apparently appears to be very much political in nature.

It would clear doubts if the Conference of Rulers were to state that it was their decision to uninvite Mahathir. It would put an end to unnecessary speculation. If this was done, then the prime minister’s alleged role in this unfortunate episode will not become the subject of gossip and a rumour.

As it stands, the people believe that the action to drop Mahathir from the official list of invitees was a deliberate attempt to insult and humiliate Dr Mahathir. If this wasn’t the case, a clarification as to why the invitation was withdrawn would be greatly helpful.

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