Malaysia's Tourism Minister Nazri: Mahathir driven by anger towards PM Najib

Mr Mohamed Nazri Aziz, Malaysian Tourism and Culture Minister.
Mr Mohamed Nazri Aziz, Malaysian Tourism and Culture Minister.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Tourism MinisteDatuk Seri Nazri Aziz has chided former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for saying that democracy is dead, claiming that Mahathir was more draconian during his tenure.

"Didn't he (Dr Mahathir) use the Internal Security Act against those who were out to cause chaos for the Government?

"He feels that when he was prime minister everything was very good but it was during his time that laws were overturned and the chief justice sacked," Nazri told reporters after launching a seminar on electronic records at the National Archives on Wednesday.

Nazri was commenting on Mahathir's blog post this week which had claimed that democracy in the country was dead. Mahathir had written that this was because an elected leader had chosen to "subvert the institutions of government and make them his instruments for sustaining himself".

Mahathir was referring to Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is facing a political scandal over allegations of graft and financial mismanagement at the debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund.

The Wall Street Journal reported in July that investigators looking into 1MDB had found that nearly US $700 million (S$970 million) was deposited into Najib's accounts.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) last week declared that the funds were donations from unnamed Middle Eastern sources, and not from 1MDB.

Mahathir has repeatedly called on Najib to step down over his handling of the 1MDB saga.

Nazri on Wednesday also said that Mahathir was making confusing statements as he was driven by anger towards Najib.

"It is okay if he wants to blame us if he was never the prime minister and had no track record. But his track record is worse," he said.

Nazri added that if democracy was in fact dead, Mahathir's blog would have been shut down. But he pointed out that the blog remains accessible to the public.

"If we take action against those who flout the law, it does not mean that there is no democracy," he said.