KUALA LUMPUR • An invitation for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to attend the inauguration next week of Malaysia's new King at Istana Negara or national palace has been withdrawn, earning a sarcastic response from the former prime minister.
Writing in his blog yesterday, Dr Mahathir said: "It appeared that this national event is actually part of a political event. I apologise for making the wrong assumption."
He said: "I will remember that Istana Negara belongs to Najib and Barisan Nasional", referring to Prime Minister Najib Razak and the ruling coalition.
Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan is to be installed as the country's 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong or King at the palace ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 13. Malaysia practises a unique form of rotational monarchy, with the ruler of each of the nine Malay states taking a turn at the helm, in what is a largely ceremonial post.
An aide to Dr Mahathir was quoted by the Malaysiakini news site as saying that a letter, dated Monday, to withdraw the invitation was hand-delivered to the former leader's office in Putrajaya on Wednesday.
NATIONAL MILESTONE OVERTAKEN BY POLITICS
It appeared that this national event is actually part of a political event. I apologise for making the wrong assumption. I will remember that Istana Negara belongs to Najib and Barisan Nasional.
DR MAHATHIR, in a sarcastic post in his blog
Dr Mahathir had on Nov 10 received a letter inviting him to the royal event.
He wrote on his blog that, after receiving the first letter, "I replied that I will be present as I view this event as a national event that had nothing to do with any political party".
Images of the second letter are circulating on social media, and have been posted by Dr Mahathir's daughter Marina Mahathir on her Facebook page.
The letter bears the signature of the Keeper of the Ruler's Seal, Syed Danial Syed Ahmad.
"This letter serves to avoid any embarrassment to Tun if you were to attend as this Office will not be reserving any seat for Tun," it said.
An official with Istana Negara declined to comment on the matter or to confirm the letter's existence, Malaysiakini reported.
Dr Mahathir, 91, was prime minister for 22 years from 1981 to 2003.
Today, he is Datuk Seri Najib's fiercest critic over a financial scandal involving state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). The Attorney-General cleared Mr Najib of any wrongdoing in the 1MDB issue.
Dr Mahathir quit Umno in February and has formed his own opposition party.
He met Sultan Muhammad V in September to submit a petition said to have been signed by 1.4 million Malaysians calling for the removal of Mr Najib from office over the corruption allegations.
Mr Najib and other Umno chiefs have been attacking Dr Mahathir since the former premier quit the party and became an opposition leader.