KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s insults and statements against Prime Minister Najib Razak have crossed the bounds of decency, Salleh Said Keruak said today.
However, the communications and multimedia minister added that Najib had chosen to remain calm and had not resorted to vilifying the Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman.
“What Mahathir is doing goes beyond politics. It even goes beyond basic human decency, while Islam regards slander as a severe crime.
“Najib, however, has demonstrated a gentleman’s approach to these attacks and has remained civil in spite of these below-the-belt tactics. Malays have what we call adab. We must refrain from bringing the level of politics down to gutter politics where anything goes and slander becomes the new political culture in Malaysia,” he said in a blogpost.
Salleh, who is also Umno treasurer, gave three examples of Mahathir’s attacks against the prime minister.
He said Mahathir had accused Najib of stealing public money and claimed that Malaysia was “controlled by thieves”, as reported by the UK’s Daily Mail on Nov 19, 2016.
Mahathir had also said that “relatively speaking, Malaysia was a peaceful country until a ‘crook, thief and robber’ showed up”, as reported by Malaysiakini on Sept 24, 2017.
In a blogpost on Oct 26, 2017, Salleh added, Mahathir had said “I never said all Bugis were pirates. I was saying that Najib may have descended from Bugis pirates”.
Salleh said these were just three examples of “a long list of personal attacks” by Mahathir against Najib over the last three years.
He added that the attacks were reported by the media worldwide.
“It is normal to have differences of opinion in politics. And it is also normal to openly express these differences. That is the bedrock of democracy, and freedom of expression is part and parcel of democracy.
“But what Mahathir is doing cannot be called democracy or freedom of expression,” he said.
Salleh said it was a crime to slander someone, but Mahathir appeared to have no respect or regard for the law.
“He makes disparaging statements against Najib and accuses Najib of all sorts of things. This is very irresponsible for someone who used to be Malaysia’s prime minister, and he is setting a bad example for the youth,” Salleh added.
Mahathir, Najib’s former mentor, is now the Umno president’s fiercest critic and is bent on unseating Najib in the upcoming general election.
The former prime minister, who led the country for 22 years, now heads the opposition PH coalition.