The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) is no longer the party it once was because of party president Najib Razak’s leadership, former chief Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said.
The former prime minister of Malaysia tore into Prime Minister Najib Razak in an interview with Australia’s ABC news, calling him a “monster” and accusing him of destroying what UMNO originally stood for.
“It is no longer the same party. It is not sticking to the original objective of formation of the party. It is just there in order to support the existing president to remain as the prime minister of this country.
“For this he uses all kinds of methods including bribery, corruption, threats and taking action against anybody who is against him. And he has overcome the separation of powers between the legislative, the executive and the judiciary – all these institutions are now under his control,” Dr Mahathir said.
Answering the reporter’s question about destroying Umno, the 92-year-old added: “The party has already been destroyed by (Najib). I’m trying to revive the ideals of the nation.”
When ABC’s reporter asked if the election bid was about “getting rid of Najib Razak”, Dr M agreed.
“Yes, it is very much about getting rid of Najib. This man is… well, he’s a monster in the view of most people in Malaysia. 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,” he said.
Calling it the “dirtiest election ever”, Mahathir accused Najib of meddling with the electoral role, changing the boundaries of the constituencies, and bribing people.
He also criticised Najib for not yet approving his coalition’s bid to contest as a single party.
“We are very strong, we think we can win. But what I do think is that he will cheat to the maximum. If we lose, it is due to cheating, fraud and things like that,” Dr M said.
“Are you not concerned what an electoral loss would do to your legacy?” the reporter asked.
To this, Mahathir said his concern was over Najib’s growing power in Malaysian politics.
“Even now, we don’t have any democracy or any rule of law. But after this, he is of course going to go all out to establish himself as a kind of permanent ruler of the country,” he said.
‘Stay away from Najib’
When asked about Najib’s upcoming meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Asean Summit, Mahathir said: “I think when you know a man is a thief, you should stay away from him.”
Dr Mahathir also said that he and former nemesis Anwar Ibrahim had chosen to put their tumultuous past behind them for the future of Malaysia.
“In those days, I felt it was justified. But by comparison to what is happening now, I think what I did was, perhaps a little bit harsh, but it was different circumstances entirely.
“And now I think the more important thing is not to look back into the past but to look forward into the future because the future can be very bad for us if we just concentrate on our animosities in the past,” he said.
If PH ends up being successful during the 14th general election, Dr M does not intend on staying on for more that the “two or three years” it takes to obtain a pardon for Anwar.
“I am very conscious about my age and I don’t think I can survive too long or one full term as prime minister,” he said.
Earlier this week, the former premier said in an interview with Sin Chew Daily that he should not have dealt with his former deputy the way he did 20 years ago.