KUALA LUMPUR: Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has taken to his blog to reiterate why the people are calling for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s removal from office as head of government. “All the institutions of government which are tasked with protecting the citizen’s well-being have now been undermined by Najib.”
“He wants the people to fear these institutions instead of relying upon them to secure their freedom and well-being.”
Malaysian papers are not allowed to report on 1MDB except the explanation by the government, added Mahathir. “Najib threatened to sue but did not do so when the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and other papers revealed more and more unsavoury stories about him and 1MDB losses as well as the money in his private account.”
“The amount involved was now reported to be RM4 billion. Najib is regarded as the most incompetent Finance Minister.”
Malaysians feel ashamed of the reports by influential foreign newspapers about Najib’s questionable management of 1MDB and the huge sum of money in his personal accounts, he stressed. “When travelling abroad, Malaysians who used to be complimented for their country’s successes, are ashamed at being asked about what is happening to their country.”
Mahathir conceded that Prime Ministers need not follow the policies of their predecessors. “They are entitled to formulate their own policies and strategies.”
However, he pointed out, that the people have a right to evaluate their performance. “The right includes approving, criticising or rejecting the work of the Prime Minister.”
“The right of the people includes overthrowing the Prime Minister through peaceful and legal means.”
The fact that the Prime Minister was elected does not mean he cannot be removed before his term, argued the former Prime Minister. “Elected people have been removed or terminated from office for various reasons all over the democratic world.”
He cited his successor Abdullah Badawi, as a case in point, resigning a year after being re-elected.
Mahathir recalled that there were a lot of expectations on the part of the people when Najib took over from Abdullah Badawi, also an elected Prime Minister. “Badawi resigned in 2009 and Najib the Deputy Prime Minister took over. This was by tradition, not because of any particular rule or law.”
The expectations of the people that Najib would undo some of the wrong policies of Badawi very quickly faded, lamented Mahathir. “He continued the policies of Badawi which caused the latter to lose five states in the 12th General Election.”
“Najib also introduced policies which undermined the independence of Malaysia and contributed to negative perceptions of the country.”
For starters, Mahathir recalled that Najib sought the permission of the Singapore Prime Minister for the building of a bridge to replace the Malaysian part of the causeway. “Later, he asked Singapore when he wanted to build the high-speed train.”
In both cases he was rejected, fumed Mahathir. “He doesn’t seem to be in full charge of the affairs of his own country.”
Najib, continued Mahathir, also employed European consultants to advise him on policies for the nation. “These consultants did not understand the multi-racial character of Malaysia and the sensitivities of the people. He even employed these Europeans to work in the Prime Minister’s Department. Their influence over him led to his becoming insensitive to local conditions.”
“The result is greater racism and tension between the races in Malaysia.”
For example, said Mahathir, the Chinese who supported the Barisan Nasional (BN), rejected him completely in 2013.
Najib also set up agencies outside the government to direct its affairs and disregarded the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and Implementation and Coordination Unit (ICU) in the planning and implementation of Malaysia’s development, continued Mahathir. “He paid these agencies, of which Pemandu is a major one, salaries and perks not in accordance with the government salary scheme, very much higher.”
“He did not follow government procedures and disregarded the relevant authorities when doing this.”
Elsewhere, Mahathir reminded that the budget of the Prime Minister’s Office had been increased several times. “There are so many Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department. His Cabinet is the biggest in Malaysian history.”
The former Prime Minister went on, in the rest of his blog posting, to detail Najib’s alleged financial and other wrongdoings and his attempts to cover them up and sweep them under the carpet.
In summing up, Mahathir argued that there was a case to bring Najib to justice, beginning with his stepping down from office.