Prime Minister Najib Razak warned that no individual, "however eminent", should interfere with or hijack his mandate to lead the country, amid calls for a vote of no-confidence against him when Parliament sits next month.
The embattled leader, who is under fire from within and outside his party, stressed that the mandate was given to him by the people, in what appeared to be a veiled remark aimed at his harshest critic, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"It is a sacred trust, and no one should attempt to interfere with or hijack that obligation to lead," he wrote on his Facebook page yesterday. "For it is the people who elected me, and I am proud and humbled to bear that mandate - which is the people's to give and to take away. It does not belong to any individual, however eminent."
On Thursday night, Datuk Seri Najib delivered a similar message in a speech at the 26th Tunku Abdul Rahman lecture, hitting out at the country's former premier.
"Some, however, are so desperate to cast our record in a bad light, that they have said that Malaysia is on its way to becoming a failed state. This is ludicrous. But let the facts speak for themselves," he said. "Outsiders have attacked us for not taking care of the people's rights and Tun Mahathir has said, in yet another ridiculously over- the-top statement that 'democracy is dead' in Malaysia."
Opposition leaders yesterday backed Dr Mahathir's call for a no- confidence vote and urged Umno MPs to follow suit.
A Wall Street Journal report on July 3 said US$700 million (S$984 million) allegedly linked to debt- laden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) went into the personal accounts of Mr Najib, who is chairman of 1MDB's advisory board.
Mr Najib has denied using state funds for personal gain.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) subsequently said that US$681 million deposited into his bank accounts in 2013 came from unnamed Middle-Eastern donors.
However, MACC is still investigating RM42 million (S$14.4 million) from SRC International, a former 1MDB subsidiary, that was allegedly transferred to Mr Najib's account earlier this year.
Yesterday, Sin Chew Daily reported that the Attorney-General has formed a new task force to investigate 1MDB, but excluded MACC.
The report, citing MACC's deputy chief commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdul, said the task force now comprises the central bank, the Attorney-General's Chambers, police, the Customs department and the Inland Revenue Board.