Former minister Zainuddin Maidin says ruling party will give 'breach of party discipline' as reason to cancel debate.
PETALING JAYA: A former minister today said the much-awaited debate between Nazri Aziz and Dr Mahathir Mohamad will not take place and will be shot down by Umno on the pretext that it breached party discipline.
Zainuddin Maidin said that while he did not doubt the ability of the tourism and culture minister to debate the former prime minister over 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion donation, Nazri should have sought permission from the party before agreeing to the debate.
In a blog post, Zainuddin said he was not surprised that Umno information chief Annuar Musa declared Nazri was not representing the party when taking up Mahathir’s challenge.
The former information minister added that Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani also stressed that Nazri will not represent the government fearing that he would not be able to come to Putrajaya’s defence over the state investment fund.
Nazri has since said he would be representing his constituency, Padang Rengas.
“I believe Nazri’s actions may have belittled the abilities of Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak and Annuar who are viewed as cowards for attacking Mahathir behind his back.
“The public and the opposition will see Nazri as an Umno or government representative as he is both an Umno supreme council member and a cabinet member.”
Zainuddin, fondly known as Zam, went on to recall the time he had breached the party’s procedures when he volunteered to play the middleman and ease tensions between then prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Mahathir.
Mahathir was very critical of Abdullah’s administration and had at one time accused his successor of being corrupt and turning Malaysia into a police state.
“I was reprimanded by Abdullah Badawi as it was alleged that I didn’t inform the party about wanting to organise a meeting between him and Mahathir.”
But Zainuddin said that whether the debate is held or not, Nazri has proven to his constituents that he was no “pondan” (effeminate), but rather a brave warrior.
“He has also proven to the party that he is a loyal servant, be it to Mahathir, Anwar (Ibrahim), Abdullah and now (Prime Minister) Najib (Razak).”
Last week, Nazri accepted Mahathir’s challenge to a debate on 1MDB, the Bumiputera Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal and the deposit of RM2.6 billion into Najib’s personal bank accounts.
Talk about the BMF scandal was recently revived when declassified US Central Intelligence Agency documents linked the Mahathir administration to about US$1 billion in losses in the 1980s.
Last year, Attorney-General Apandi Ali cleared Najib of any wrongdoing pertaining to the RM2.6 billion deposit, saying he was satisfied that the money was a personal donation from the Saudi royal family.
Nazri had earlier challenged Mahathir, who is the founding chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), to contest against him in Padang Rengas in the next general election (GE14).