Mahathir stabbing Barisan Nasional in the back, says Najib

Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad attends a meeting of political and civil leaders looking to change the government in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Mar 27, 2016.
Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad attends a meeting of political and civil leaders looking to change the government in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Mar 27, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Malaysian PM hits out at ex-premier's call for party's defeat in by-elections next month

LONDON • Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is stabbing the party in the back by calling for Barisan Nasional (BN) to be defeated at two upcoming by-elections, as the former premier benefited much from the ruling coalition, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Datuk Seri Najib, firing the latest salvo at his former mentor- turned-nemesis, was responding to recent comments by Dr Mahathir for voters to oust BN in the June 15 by-elections in Selangor and Perak states.

Mr Najib said: "He has received so much through Barisan and Umno. Without the BN and the party, he would not have been a minister or the prime minister for 22 years. He and his family have benefited from his position as prime minister, and this is due to the strength of Barisan and Umno."

Mr Najib, speaking to Malaysian reporters on Tuesday while on a five-day working visit to Britain, added: "He is now asking people to reject the party that has been good to him. Does it make sense for us to stab the party, which has done so much for us, in the back?"

Dr Mahathir on Sunday called for opposition unity against BN in the by-elections in Sungai Besar, Selangor, and Kuala Kangsar in Perak on June 15. Nominations are set for June 5.

ALL THANKS TO PARTY

He has received so much through Barisan and Umno. Without the BN and the party, he would not have been a minister or the prime minister for 22 years. He and his family have benefited from his position as prime minister, and this is due to the strength of Barisan and Umno.

'' DATUK SERI NAJIB RAZAK, on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir is leading the so-called Citizens' Declaration campaign to ask Mr Najib to step down over financial scandals involving state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Featuring sidelined Umno leaders, opposition chieftains and civil society activists, the campaign said it has managed to garner 1.2 million signatures from the public asking Mr Najib to resign.

Dr Mahathir's call for opposition unity follows their poor performance in the May 7 Sarawak state elections. The opposition parties are also struggling to remain united for the two by-elections.

Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) is insisting on fielding candidates for the by-elections, while the Pakatan Harapan alliance of three parties wants to field candidates from PAS breakaway Parti Amanah Nasional.

The opposition is currently also divided on whether to continue supporting the Citizens' Declaration, after opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim, who is in jail, wrote a letter last week asking his Parti Keadilan Rakyat to be wary of working with Dr Mahathir.

Anwar, quoting Shakespeare, described his former boss by saying: "The serpent that stings... now wears the crown."

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2016, with the headline 'Mahathir stabbing Barisan Nasional in the back, says Najib'. Print Edition | Subscribe