Anwar Ibrahim claims that the former premier has been asking Umno state leaders to grit their teeth and lend their support to Umno and BN for now.
The opposition leader said he “knew for a fact” that Mahathir had been asking state leaders to lend their support to Umno and Barisan Nasional while suggesting that they could “topple the leader after the election.”
“This message has gone to almost all state leaders. I think that is why because of this fear, Najib feels that his personal position is rather insecure,” he told a press conference here.
Anwar was responding to Najib’s sudden move to thank Mahathir for voluntarily campaigning for Umno towards the end of the party’s annual general assembly on Saturday and congratulating the former premier for his Vision 2020 yesterday.
“Najib has displayed very little courage as a leader, he cannot deal with [Wanita Umno chief] Shahrizat [Abdul Jalil] firmly, can’t imagine he can deal with Mahathir firmly. That is why he is trying to appease everyone,” he said.
Asked if he thought Najib now realised that he needed Mahathir in the run-up to the 13th general election, Anwar said: “Knowing Najib he will need to cling to everyone; his personality of seemingly [appearing] confident was never Najib’s style.”
Anwar said that Najib’s camp was not happy that Mahathir had been “interfering with government matters and in the giving out of contracts to cronies”, but had no choice as Najib was unable to put his foot down.
“Najib does not have the courage to put his foot down… you have a party where Dr Mahathir still goes around calling party leaders. I don’t think he [Najib] has the courage to deal with it… [so] he has to appease all parties, because he does not have the clout to enforce his policies or views,” he said.
On the Umno general assembly, Anwar said that the ruling party’s confidence of winning back four opposition-held states and re-capturing the two-thirds majority was a sign of denial.
“They [Umno leaders] are in a state of denial. They sit in five-star hotels, smoke expensive cigars, spend time in lounges, that’s where they devise their strategy… a clear disconnect between the multimillionaire Umno leaders and the masses on the ground… the urban, rural Malays… non-Malays,” he said at a press conference to rebut issues raised at the 66th Umno general assembly.
Umno has changed – for the worst
Anwar said that the Umno assembly did not touch on core issues affecting society including “economic hardship, soaring prices, endemic poverty”, but instead focused on “power, and how to retain it at all cost”.
He said he was not the least worried by Umno’s display of “sheer arrogance” and its need to “protect its condos, cows, petroleum companies, San Miguel”.
“If he [Najib] was really confident, he would not treat us as if we are a big threat. The tempo and tone of the attacks show that they [Umno leaders] are in fear, as if there is a giant dragon that is waiting to pounce on them,” he said.
Anwar also chided Najib for failing to give the nation a clear vision during his speeches.
“I agree with Najib and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that Umno is a changed party. It is more corrupt, more racist and more insecure. The presidential speeches should give a clear indication of the way forward, a clear vision to chart the nation in terms of dealing with government policies. But this was not done. Yes Umno has changed – it is more desperate to cling to power, resorting to fear-mongering, it is retrogressive,” he said.