Malaysia PM Najib blames social media for attacks on him

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks during a news conference after the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party's supreme council meeting.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks during a news conference after the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party's supreme council meeting. PHOTO: EPA

He insists again that he won't quit despite mounting accusations

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has insisted again that he will not resign despite mounting accusations against him, blaming the spread of falsehood and defamatory remarks about him on the use of social media.

He also claimed on Sunday (Sept 13) that heightened attacks against him were "conspiracies from within and outside the country" meant to destroy the ruling Umno, which "is the backbone of the national administration and leadership".

"If people want to destroy a party, they will of course attack its leader. If there is no confidence in the leader, then it is easy for the party to fall at any time," he wrote on his blog, just days after Doha-based Al Jazeera televised a programme that revived reported links between the Malaysian leader and the 2006 murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Datuk Seri Najib has, for months now, faced calls for him to resign over allegations of financial mismanagement at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state investment agency whose advisory board he chairs.

The criticism grew in July after it was reported that he received US$700 million (S$989 million) linked to the debt-laden firm in his private accounts, although the Najib administration has insisted that the money was political funding from unspecified Middle Eastern donors.

CONSPIRACY AGAINST UMNO

If people want to destroy a party, they will of course attack its leader. If there is no confidence in the leader, then it is easy for the party to fall at any time.

DATUK SERI NAJIB RAZAK, Malaysian Prime Minister

Two weeks ago, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Kuala Lumpur to demand that Mr Najib step down over the allegations, with influential former premier Mahathir Mohamad also attending to urge lawmakers to withdraw support for the incumbent.

In Sunday's posting reminiscing about his four decades in Umno and a 1987 party crisis which his nemesis Tun Dr Mahathir had survived to cling on to power, Mr Najib noted that attacks against leaders were limited prior to the use of social media as a "weapon".

"We are faced with a new atmosphere where social media is used to spread hate towards leaders to the point (that) his character means nothing," he said.

However, Mr Najib insisted that he would not back down in the face of such challenges.

"I will not disappoint Umno members and Malaysians. All leaders face challenges and when we have entered the arena, we should not quit in the middle of the fight. I will fight to the end and take on my responsibilities to the party and public," he wrote.

Last Friday, the Al Jazeera news network resurrected the case of the controversial and brutal murder of Ms Altantuya. Her death has been linked to alleged kickbacks in the 2002 purchase of two French submarines.

In response, the Prime Minister's Office told the network that Mr Najib did not know her, and rejected claims of corruption repeated in the documentary.

His government has also repeatedly labelled moves to table a no-confidence motion against him in Parliament as "undemocratic plots" to remove a leader elected by the people.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2015, with the headline 'Najib blames social media for attacks on him'. Print Edition | Subscribe