At a time when several local celebrities have courted praise from Dr Mahathir Mohamad, veteran singer-songwriter M Nasir has said there is “no value” in dwelling on his controversial history with the former premier.
“I don’t like to discuss this issue. It does not have any value,” the singer, whose real name is Mohamad Nasir Mohamad, told reporters when met after a forum titled “Magnum Opus 40 Tahun M Nasir: Kembara ke Solo” held today at the Malaysian Tourism Information Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
The award-winning artiste said this when asked for comments on Mahathir’s recent praise for several local celebrities.
Nasir was at one time banned from all government radio and television channels, during Mahathir’s tenure as prime minister.
In 1996, Nasir’s purported “Siapa Dr Mahathir?” remark had led then deputy information minister Suleiman Mohamed to issue a ban against him, as he was deemed to have insulted Mahathir.
As a result of the ban, Nasir was forced to cancel two of his concerts scheduled to be held that year in Kedah and Selangor.
Nasir has denied making the remark, which a local daily reported him as saying during practice for a poetry recital event that was supposed to feature Mahathir.
At the time, the ban was often referred to as a sign of the censorship experienced by celebrities under Mahathir’s administration.
Recent discussions on celebrities and their comments on issues surrounding current costs of living had reignited a similar debate over their rights to freedom of expression.
Earlier this month, Mahathir had heaped praise on veteran singer Sheila Majid and other celebrities for speaking out on the state of the country.
Sheila had weighed in on the state of the country’s economy, claiming that Malaysians were “tired and angry” at being “squeezed for debts we did not create”.
Retweeting Sheila’s comment, Mahathir said: “One by one, Malaysian icons speak up for the future of the country.
“From (actress) Nur Fathia Abdul Latiff, Aznil Nawawi and now Sheila Majid,” he said.