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Mahathir withdraws support for Najib govt

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, yesterday lashed out at the current Prime Minister Najib Razak, saying he was withdrawing his support for Mr Najib’s administration as his criticism had fallen on deaf ears.

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, yesterday lashed out at the current Prime Minister Najib Razak, saying he was withdrawing his support for Mr Najib’s administration as his criticism had fallen on deaf ears.

In a post on his popular blog, Dr Mahathir offered wide-ranging criticism of Mr Najib’s decisions on issues including the country’s economy, security and foreign relations. He said he had previously attempted to raise those issues with Mr Najib, but his concerns had been ignored.

“I have tried to give my views to him directly, which are also the views of many people who have met me,” he wrote on his blog, chedet.cc.

“I have no choice but to withdraw my support. This has not been effective, so I have to criticise,” he said.

Dr Mahathir was Prime Minister from 1981 until his retirement in 2003. It is unclear how much influence he still retains within the current administration.

Dr Mahathir said he had hoped Mr Najib would have learnt lessons from his poor performance in the previous general election, but it appeared that he had not. “Many policies, approaches and actions taken by the government under Mr Najib have destroyed interracial ties, the economy and the country’s finances,” he added.

Mr Najib’s Barisan Nasional coalition secured its 13th straight election win last year, although the result was also the narrowest victory for the coalition since Malaysia gained independence from Britain in 1957.

Dr Mahathir said Mr Najib’s slide began when the latter listened to his “enemies’ demands” and, in 2011, abolished the Internal Security Act and the Restrictive Residents Act, which allowed the government to detain anyone including suspected criminals without trial. “These actions did not reduce opposition from the other side. Instead, crime increased because many gang leaders were released,” said the former Prime Minister, an active proponent of the security laws that allowed detention without trial.

Dr Mahathir also added that Mr Najib was ruining the economy by prioritising imported goods at the expense of local industry. He added: “Extra holidays (have been) given to the point that there are workers who take holidays for over a week ... The minimum wage is increased without taking into account rising costs, which could reduce local businesses’ competitiveness.”

He added that Mr Najib’s “humble” attitude towards neighbouring countries had left Malaysia’s domestic affairs subject to their views.

“But the views of the race and the party, which had all this while supported and saved the government, are not given fair treatment,” he said, obliquely referring to BN’s largest component party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

Dr Mahathir said he was taking it upon himself to criticise Mr Najib, even if it meant opening himself up to abuse. In fact, he said, Mr Najib had been no better than Mr Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, whom Dr Mahathir had chosen as his successor, although the two later had a famous public feud.

Mr Abdullah, who took over the government from Dr Mahathir in 2003, won a 91 per cent majority in the 2004 election. But his administration lost the two-third super-majority in the 2008 general election. In 2009, Mr Abdullah stepped down, relinquishing his UMNO presidency and Prime Minister post to Mr Najib.

“My choice to replace Tun Abdullah was Datuk Seri Najib. But after a while, I can see that Datuk Seri Najib’s policies and actions are no more effective than Tun Abdullah’s,” Dr Mahathir said.

He began openly attacking Mr Abdullah and his administration in 2006 over his policies, including cancelling the “crooked” bridge to link Singapore and Johor. He had turned to his blog to criticise Mr Abdullah for his “half-past-six government” and had even taken shots at the latter’s tendency to nap in public. AGENCIES

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