by Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad
1. One is always shocked when someone one knows suffers a tragic end. Maybe for the enemies of Gaddafi, he deserves what he got. But that does not lessen my sadness over the manner of his demise.
2. As Prime Minister I met Gaddafi several times. He was always hospitable. Much of my time with him was spent in answering questions explaining about Malaysia. He seemed to want to learn about developing a country. I believe he wanted to do the same for Libya.
3. In his early years he had plans for improving the lives of the Libyans. He, it was, who initiated the irrigation of the fertile coastal areas through building the great artificial river. A Korean contractor undertook the job, building a huge pipeline to carry underground water from the distant interior to huge tank storage farms and then to irrigate the land.
4. I was much impressed by this project. Obviously he cared enough for his country and people to do this. But beyond that nothing much was done. Despite huge revenues from oil exports the country remained poorly developed. The people were relatively poor for a country with huge oil reserves.
5. The Western press reported about his alleged cruelty against his detractors and enemies. But I have always been leery of the Western press. According to them I am also a great dictator who imprisoned hundreds of my political enemies. I know this is not true. And so I discounted much of the western press reports about Gaddafi.
6. But he was certainly deficient in understanding the purpose of Government. He had no real plan for developing his country and prospering his people. He did not travel much to see how the other countries were developing. But his house where my wife and I had lunch with him and his wife was no palace. It was not even luxurious.
7. Most of the time he was reclusive and after the western attempt to kill him, he feared for his life. He met visitors in a tent in a walled compound.
8. I do not know about the cruelties perpetrated by him or his people. During his retreat recently I did not read about his prisoners being liberated or mass graves of the victims of his cruelty. Maybe these will be discovered later.
9. In war cruelty is to be expected. In fact war legitimises cruelty, including killings. Still to see the cruelty, the killing inflicted on someone you know, shocks and saddens you.
10. I am saddened by the killing of Gaddafi. He should be arrested and tried for his crime. But I know that is not the way today. Osama bin Laden was also executed by the United States’ soldiers. There are contracts made by “civilised democratic” Governments on several people as there were in the past I fear the fate of Gaddafi will befall others who fail to see the writing on the wall. The powerful, with vested interest in a regime change will ensure that this will happen. They have much to gain.
11. I hope and pray that Libya will get a good Government after this, headed by leaders who truly believe in good Government, who will be prepared to lose in clean elections which will not be manipulated.