Malaysia's King urges politicians to end politicking for narrow interests

Malaysia's King called on Members of Parliament to end politicking for "narrow interests" in his opening address to Parliament on March 7, 2016.
Malaysia's King called on Members of Parliament to end politicking for "narrow interests" in his opening address to Parliament on March 7, 2016.PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's King called on Members of Parliament to end politicking for "narrow interests", saying in his opening address to Parliament on Monday (March 7) that "toppling, enmity and slander" would lead to the downfall of Malaysia.

This comes just days after former premier Mahathir Mohamad joined hands with opposition figures, civil society leaders and other Umno rebels in declaring that they would cooperate to unseat Prime Minister Najib Razak over allegations of graft involving more than US$700 million (S$963.5 million).

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah said in his speech - by convention prepared by the government - that lawmakers and the public should unite and show undivided loyalty to "defend and protect" the country.

"We hope that all honourable members end politics for narrow interests as it has dragged on for a long time where it has exhausted the people and government," he said.

Tun Dr Mahathir's cobbling together of what he has previously called a "core group" includes even former rivals who were jailed during his 22-year rule, such as former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim and opposition stalwart Lim Kit Siang.

This comes after a fruitless year of calling on the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) government to ditch Datuk Seri Najib over claims of misuse of RM42 billion (S$14.23 billion) in loans raised by 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), including allegations that billions from the state investor ended up in the bank accounts of the Prime Minister, who is 1MDB's advisory chief.

 
 

The mounting attacks have only resulted in critics being booted from government, a change of attorney-general and the reconstitution of Parliament's Public Accounts Committee in the midst of its review of 1MDB's books.

Mr Najib has denied these allegations, and Attorney-General Apandi Ali declared that the bulk of the money was donations from Saudi Arabia, with the rest entering the Umno president's accounts without his knowledge.

The King also expressed his wish to see "attempts to incite racial sentiment and abuse of social media by spreading seditious and slanderous remarks and extremist ideologies" contained immediately.

The authorities have moved to block websites besides investigating and charging posts on blogs, Facebook and Twitter over content deemed criminal. Dr Mahathir himself has been questioned by the police twice over statements critical of Mr Najib made on his blog.

shannont@sph.com.sg