Mahathir will likely force Najib out, says Musa

Former deputy prime minister Musa Hitam said even before the 1MDB issue cropped up, he told Mr Najib that Dr Mahathir was uncomfortable with him.
Former deputy prime minister Musa Hitam said even before the 1MDB issue cropped up, he told Mr Najib that Dr Mahathir was uncomfortable with him.

KUALA LUMPUR • Describing his former boss as a "political terminator", former deputy prime minister Musa Hitam said he believed Dr Mahathir Mohamad would succeed in securing the ouster of Prime Minister Najib Razak over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

"This is the third prime minister that he is going after and, I think, he is going to succeed, one way or another," said Tun Musa, according to The Malaysian Insider (TMI) news site.

Dr Mahathir successfully dislodged two prime ministers as well as two deputy prime ministers, including Mr Musa, who is now chairman of the World Islamic Economic Forum.

He left government in 1986 due to "irreconcilable differences" with Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir, 90, was Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister, and was in office from 1981 to 2003. He was responsible for the resignation of first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman after the racial riots in 1969.

He also went after his successor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who became prime minister in 2003. Tun Abdullah was forced to step down in 2009, ahead of the scheduled transition of power to Datuk Seri Najib in 2010, after a dismal showing in the 2008 general election.

Mr Najib has, in recent months, battled calls, in particular from Dr Mahathir, for his resignation over the suspicious channelling of funds out of the state-owned investment agency 1MDB.

In a hard-hitting report this month, the Wall Street Journal alleged that US$700 million (S$945 million) had been moved into Mr Najib's personal bank account in AmPrivate Bank before the 2013 election. The newspaper also released nine documents allegedly detailing the money trail.

Bank Negara Malaysia yesterday denied that its employees were involved in the leaking of information to the media.

Mr Musa said that even before the 1MDB issue cropped up, he had told Mr Najib that Dr Mahathir was already uncomfortable with him.

"It has come to a situation where a plan was hatched on how to get Najib out," the TMI quoted the Mr Musa as saying.

Ironically, he added, Mr Najib could not be voted out as Umno president because it was Dr Mahathir who had made sure that the party constitution would prevent that from happening so that he would not be purged when he was president.

"Dr Mahathir has made it impossible for party members to remove Najib as party president because he ensured it could not happen," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2015, with the headline 'Mahathir will likely force Najib out, says Musa'. Print Edition | Subscribe