More importantly, it succeeded in ending vicious rumours on the Internet by his
This is not the first time rumours of
his health had been circulated, particularly on the stock market.
We often forget that Dr Mahathir is an
ordinary human being. He gets his bouts
of flu, like all of us. He gets tired
when he overworks, as do the rest of
He was admitted to the National Heart
Institute even though he had a lung
infection because the doctors who
performed the heart bypass operation on him in 1989 and those who subsequently treated him are all based at the institute.
The saddest part is that some Malaysians seem to have forgotten human values
such as compassion and being
On this score, it is commendable that
Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang had,
during the debates in Parliament, wished Dr Mahathir well.
His kind gesture led to a thank-you note
from Datin Seri Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamed
But for some of his political opponents, Dr Mahathir's illness has become a
matter of making political gains.
Websites linked to this group exaggerated his illness. One of them even provided an hour-by-hour account of what would take place in Kuala Lumpur should
the worst take place.
Granted that there is resentment among
his opponents, their attitude is
certainly contradictory to their purported principles of justice, the
creation of a civil society and a gentler
system of governance.
Even if we do not agree with the prime
minister, let us not lose our sense of
By the same token, we should all be
outraged at the assault on Datuk Seri
Anwar Ibrahim while in police detention even if we do not agree with
Malaysians must know how to separate politics and personal well-being. There is always that invisible line we do not cross or else we are no better than
what we describe our opponents or
enemies to be.
Foreign news reports on Dr Mahathir have also given rise to much speculation.
It is certainly not unusual for doctors to impose a no-visitors ruling but one news agency chose to describe the decision as one that “raised
It even gloated about the prime
minister's health, raising questions
about his stamina in facing the general election.
If the restriction was not imposed by
the hospital, there would have been no
end to the streams of visitors,
defeating the purpose of letting him
But he still met top leaders, including Abdullah and First Finance Minister Tun
The speculation surrounding him could
have been avoided if there were detailed
information on the nature of his
Much as we accept that he is like the
rest of us in terms of health, he is
unlike us in that he is the prime minister.
The concern shown by Malaysians is
understandable. Though the nation's economic and political stability does not hinge on him alone, his well being
can help maintain confidence.
It has to be accepted that any uncertainty caused by the speculation on his health
will affect the nation's
Whatever it may be, Malaysians should
learn from the episode that Internet news is unreliable.
Despite having experienced before how
the Internet has been abused to spread
lies and rumours, many Malaysians are still prepared to swallow everything that appears on their computer
Those behind these vicious lies apppear
to be those who had complained loudly about the mainstream media's lack of credibility and
Yet, when they spread such blatant lies,
it is condoned by their leaders.
Granted that national reconciliation is
more difficult now, in the wake of
current political developments, it is
time for moderate Malaysians to say
no to those who cannot exercise political self-restraint.
Moderate Malaysians will not accept those who advocate street chaos, assassination and hurl curses at our leaders.
We are Malaysians. If you cannot respect
the prime minister, you should at least
respect the chair.