Mahathir says family and friends under pressure over criticism of Malaysia PM Najib

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad talks to the media during a visit to Jakarta on July 25, 2016.
Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad talks to the media during a visit to Jakarta on July 25, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - Former Malaysian premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said his family and friends have been visited by the income tax department, which he said was part of attempts to pressure him to stop criticising Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The former mentor of Datuk Seri Najib who has turned into his fiercest critic, Dr Mahathir told reporters in Jakarta on Monday (July 25) that he is being "harassed" in retaliation for his attacks on the administration.

"I am being harassed at the moment. A lot of things are being done to make life very uncomfortable for me, and my family and my friends. They are being visited by income tax department," Dr Mahathir told a press conference, in response to a query by The Straits Times.

"All kinds of things have been done in order to stop me from doing anything that may affect the image of Datuk Seri Najib," he added.

 
 

Dr Mahathir, who had warned his critics in the past against speaking poorly about the country abroad, was in Jakarta to give a public lecture on "Building Economic Independence and Clean Government" to university students.

He also told the press conference that the "wrongdoings of the government of the Prime Minister is now known to everyone, to the whole world and to Malaysians".

The United States' Justice Department last week filed a civil suit to seize assets it believes were bought using money stolen from state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd, whose advisory board was led by Mr Najib until May this year.

Malaysia, Dr Mahathir said on Sunday, is not democratic as Mr Najib has "seized power" over all the instruments of government.

Dr Mahathir, 91, resigned from Umno in February.

He launched the Save Malaysia campaign with opposition leaders in March to push for Mr Najib's ouster, and campaigned for the opposition in two by-elections in June.

Dr Mahathir announced earlier this month that he is planning to form a new political party. He said on Monday: "We don't know whether we will succeed or not but certainly you have to try something. If you don't do anything, of course you will not succeed."