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Najib wants to stay in power forever, Dr Mahathir tells Aussie TV

KUALA LUMPUR — Former Malaysian prime minister turned Opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad claimed his successor Najib Razak is intent on remaining in power to enrich himself while destroying the country, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on Friday (March 16).

Najib wants to stay in power forever, Dr Mahathir tells Aussie TV

Former Malaysian prime minister turned Opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad claims his successor Najib Razak is intent on remaining in power to enrich himself while destroying the country. Photo: Bloomberg

KUALA LUMPUR — Former Malaysian prime minister turned Opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad claimed his successor Najib Razak is intent on remaining in power to enrich himself while destroying the country, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on Friday (March 16).

He also alleged Prime Minister Najib will employ cheating tactics to ensure victory in the next general election which is expected to be called by early April.

In an interview with the Australian media agency, Dr Mahathir said these were the reasons for his decision to stand as opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition’s prime minister candidate against Mr Najib, who he alleged is seen as a “monster” in the eyes of most Malaysians.

“It is very much about getting rid of Najib. He’s a monster in the view of most people in Malaysia,” Dr Mahathir said.

“They think that he is just about enriching himself, having a good life and at the same time using money to buy support, or promoting corruption on a huge scale, stealing government money by the billions of dollars.

“This is not something that we want to see.”

Malaysia’s national polls is widely expected to be the country’s tightest political contest in decades.

Mr Najib faces an unprecedented challenge in this year’s election from his former mentor Dr Mahathir, who turned on the premier over financial irregularities in state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The veteran politician has been Mr Najib’s chief critic for the past few years, accusing the premier of corruption following news of RM2.6 billion (S$870 million) being deposited into the prime minister’s private accounts, as well as financial issues surrounding 1MDB.

Mr Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing over 1MDB — a sovereign fund he set up in 2009 and served as chairman of its advisory board until 2016.

Dr Mahathir subsequently joined hands with PH and is now leading the charge to oust the premier.

In the ABC report, Dr Mahathir said he believed that PH enjoys the support of most Malaysians, but alleged that Mr Najib would “cheat to the maximum” to win in the general election.

“We are very strong, we think we can win but what I do think is that he will cheat to the maximum,” he said.

“If we lose, it is due to cheating, fraud and things like that.”

He also touched on his reconciliation with his former protégé-turned political nemesis-turned ally Anwar Ibrahim, saying that it was necessary to try and topple the Najib administration.

“Anwar and me of course have differences, but the problem facing the country is so big today that we have to relegate all our past experiences to the background and focus on trying to rescue or to rehabilitate this country from this administration, which is going to totally destroy this country,” he said.

The interview comes against the backdrop of this weekend’s special Association of South-east Asian (Asean) Summit. Mr Najib is set to meet Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the sidelines of the summit where Australian officials have confirmed that the 1MDB scandal is unlikely to be discussed.

In the interview with ABC, Dr Mahathir said he believed Mr Najib would be using his meeting with Mr Turnbull to advance his own credentials.

“He’s been trying to all the time, having photo opportunities and all that because he wants to show Malaysians that he is well-accepted,” he said.

“But I think when you know a man is a thief you should stay away from him.”

The former premier said he believed that the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), the ruling party he has been a part of for 60 years, was no longer the same party he once loved.

“It is just there in order to support the existing president to remain as the prime minister of this country,” he said.

“His party now is supporting an authoritarian government… the party has already been destroyed by him.” THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

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