By Dr Mahathir Mohamad
1. I watched on Al Jazeera the trial of President Charles Taylor of Liberia. He was accused of war crimes. He was found guilty and sentenced to 50 years jail.
2. He is 64 years old and 50 years really means a life sentence for him. The prosecution was disappointed as they had asked for 80 years. I suppose the prosecution expects him to be discharged at the end of 80 years when he would be 144 years old! He must live to that age so he can suffer fully for his crimes.
3. There is no doubt that Taylor was guilty as charged. The prosecution told about how he was responsible for the killings in a
neighbouring country. On one occasion he did not stop a soldier from forcing a woman to carry a sack-full of decapitated heads. That was truly inhuman, more inhuman than the killings and the hideous injuries inflicted by another President on hundreds of thousands of Afghans, Iraqis and others, more inhuman than the tortures of prisoners in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.
4. Taylor had been captured in 2006. He was there at the trial.
5. But leaders of powerful countries cannot be arrested and tried, not even when their war crimes are much worse.
6. The leaders of powerful countries have starved little new-born babies, deprived them of medicine, and exposed them to depleted uranium until half-a-million of them died in Iraq. As Madeline Albright said, it was worth it.
7. Leaders of powerful nations who had set up the International Criminal Court, who had formulated the laws governing wars, who had tried war criminals and sentenced them to death; leaders of powerful countries are privileged, are above the very laws they formulated. No! They are actually heroes and their pictures are put up in the Presidential Palace with proper ceremonies, so the nation would always remember them for their bravery in killing babies and potential terrorists.
8. And we are told to apply the rule of law in our countries if we want to be democrats like them. If we don’t then we might be replaced through regime change or be arrested, tried and jailed for a hundred years. Truly we are living in a world devoted to fairness and justice, a world where full legal process would be instituted against us because we are weak. Only the weak will be punished; the strong will be celebrated as heroes for committing the same crimes.
9. Its like what our teachers told us long ago, “Do as I told you, but don’t do as I do.”
10. And the response to this would be that UMNO is much worse.