Mahathir's anti-Najib move turns up the heat on both sides

Umno is likely to convene an emergency leadership meeting to discuss the fate of Tan Sri Muhyiddin (right, top) and Datuk Seri Apdal. Both of them had signed Dr Mahathir's declaration demanding Mr Najib's ouster.
Umno is likely to convene an emergency leadership meeting to discuss the fate of Tan Sri Muhyiddin and Datuk Seri Apdal (above). Both of them had signed Dr Mahathir's declaration demanding Mr Najib's ouster.
Umno is likely to convene an emergency leadership meeting to discuss the fate of Tan Sri Muhyiddin (right, top) and Datuk Seri Apdal. Both of them had signed Dr Mahathir's declaration demanding Mr Najib's ouster.
Umno is likely to convene an emergency leadership meeting to discuss the fate of Tan Sri Muhyiddin (above) and Datuk Seri Apdal. Both of them had signed Dr Mahathir's declaration demanding Mr Najib's ouster.

Online petition backs move as PAS seeks royal probe; Umno may call meet to deal with rebels

The bitter clash between Prime Minister Najib Razak and those seeking his ouster has hotted up as both sides swung into action after former premier Mahathir Mohamad signed a declaration demanding the Malaysian leader's removal.

An online petition supporting the declaration began on Friday and a royal inquiry was requested. Datuk Seri Najib's ruling Umno, for its part, may call for an emergency meeting to deal with party rebels after some key members signed the declaration on Friday.

An Umno supreme council member yesterday said an emergency leadership meeting may be convened to discuss the fate of suspended deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin and vice-president Shafie Apdal. They signed the declaration that also saw an unprecedented alliance forming between opposition leaders and Tun Dr Mahathir.

"We can't tolerate all this nonsense and we certainly do not want to have an enemy within the party," said Datuk Seri Hasan Malek, according to The Star Online.

But Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob told The Sunday Times he was not aware if there is to be an emergency meeting.

Mr Najib, who still maintains support from the Cabinet and most Umno leaders, is taking flak not just from politicians but also the Malaysian public for two financial scandals. As adviser to the troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), he is criticised for its mismanagement. Questions also remain over the US$681 million (S$936 million) that was transferred to his personal bank accounts although the Attorney-General has cleared him of wrongdoing.

The online petition on Change.org has garnered over 7,200 signatories at press time. Malaysians left messages on the site about wanting "to save Malaysia" and voicing their wish for government reforms.

Last August, tens of thousands of Malaysians held a two-day rally demanding Mr Najib's resignation.

Yesterday, the opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) said it is seeking an audience with the sultans to call for a royal inquiry into 1MDB. It also reiterated that it wanted fresh polls as part of its call for change.

PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said the party is leaning towards reliance on the royals to step in after the Perak Sultan's speech last Tuesday asking agencies to fight corruption without fear or favour, reported news website The Malaysian Insider.

Several Umno ministers denounced the declaration, with Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi calling it "an act of betrayal" on the part of Dr Mahathir. Foreign Minister Anifah Aman called Friday's "Save Malaysia" movement one with "its own agenda and revenge and does not benefit any political party or the people".

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the declaration was "an illogical move and is not based on the truth", reported Bernama.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 06, 2016, with the headline 'Mahathir's anti-Najib move turns up the heat on both sides'. Print Edition | Subscribe