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Mahathir slams Najib, predicts BN will lose power

KUALA LUMPUR — Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad today (April 2) lashed out at current Prime Minister Najib Razak, saying Malaysians do not trust him and predicting that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition will lose the next election if Mr Najib remains in power.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad has made his harshest criticism against PM Najib Razak today (April 2 2015), saying Barisan Nasional will lose the next general election if Najib remains in power. Photo: The Malaysian Insider

Dr Mahathir Mohamad has made his harshest criticism against PM Najib Razak today (April 2 2015), saying Barisan Nasional will lose the next general election if Najib remains in power. Photo: The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR — Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday lashed out at current Prime Minister Najib Razak, saying Malaysians do not trust him and predicting that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition will lose the next election if Mr Najib remains in power.

Dr Mahathir, Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister, withdrew his support last year for Mr Najib, the president of the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO), over policy differences and has said the prime minister should resign.

“Malaysians, whether Malays, Chinese, Indian or the people in Sabah and Sarawak, no longer trust Najib,” Dr Mahathir said, adding that BN and its main party UMNO would lose the general elections under Mr Najib’s leadership.

“When UMNO loses, the Malays will curse the leadership that has made the party so weak until it is rejected by the Malays themselves. Once UMNO loses, it cannot be rehabilitated any more,” Dr Mahathir wrote in his popular blog.

His statements have rattled several UMNO members, with one calling for the secretary-general of the party to step in and mediate — behind closed doors — so the dispute does not weaken the party.

Dr Mahathir ran Malaysia as prime minister for 22 years until he stepped down in 2003. But he still wields influence within UMNO and was instrumental in the ousting in 2009 of his successor Abdullah Badawi, Mr Najib’s direct predecessor.

While Dr Mahathir has criticised Mr Najib periodically, the latest attack is the most direct yet and indicates that discontent among conservatives in UMNO is still simmering over the relatively lacklustre performance of BNl the last election in 2013.

Mr Najib has also come under increasing pressure in recent months and his popularity has slid to the lowest level since he took up the party presidency and became prime minister in April 2009. 

In his lengthy blog post, Dr Mahathir listed various allegations made against Mr Najib, saying none of them had been adequately answered. He said these included the murder of Mongolian interpreter Altantuya Shaariibuu and the claims made by one of her convicted murderers, former commando Sirul Azhar Umar, who was Mr Najib’s former bodyguard. Noting Sirul’s claim that he had been under orders to kill Altantuya, Dr Mahathir said such an allegation ought to be investigated because Sirul had worked for Mr Najib.

“This is a human life. It would be cruel if Sirul was subjected to the death penalty for carrying out instructions,” he wrote.

Dr Mahathir also delved into the problems surrounding the Finance Ministry-owned 1Malaysia Development, questioning the need for Putrajaya to give it a standby credit facility of almost RM1 billion (S$370 million), the fund’s purchase of government land and its dubious deal with little-known oil company PetroSaudi International.

He also did not spare mention of the new private jet purchased for Mr Najib, describing it as a waste since the government already had other jets to use.

UMNO supreme council member and Cabinet minister Shahidan Kassim yesterday said UMNO secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor should step in as mediator between Dr Mahathir and Mr Najib to prevent UMNO from being weakened.

“Whether it is right or not, this matter should not be brought out openly. The best way is for us to do it behind closed doors and in a brotherly manner,” said Mr Shahidan.

Meanwhile, UMNO lawmaker Nur Jazlan Mohamed downplayed the differences between the two leaders and Dr Mahathir’s latest remarks.

“That is (Dr Mahathir’s) opinion, but it is not the issue. As long as Najib commands support from the party and the people, why should he resign?” Mr Nur Jazlan told reporters today.

“Both are great men who have differing views on the country’s direction. Whether they will meet, that is up to them,” he added. AGENCIES

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