Najib fails to address key issues: Mahathir

Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 22.
Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 22.PHOTO: REUTERS

Umno assembly speech disappoints as PM did not touch on IMDB or economy, he claims

KUALA LUMPUR • Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said he was "very disappointed" with the speech made by Umno president Najib Razak last Saturday, as it did not answer issues relating to a donation scandal and the debt troubles of state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Tun Dr Mahathir in his latest blog post yesterday said the speech made by the Prime Minister at the close of the five-day United Malays National Organisation (Umno) general assembly also did not touch on economic issues that has worried many Malaysians.

"The party's struggle and government under his leadership was not mentioned. There was no mention of problems like 1MDB and money worth RM2.6 billion (S$851 million) in his... bank account, which the delegates want to know so that they can explain to the other members and public," the former premier wrote on his popular blog.

He added that Datuk Seri Najib also did not address issues relating to the country's "deteriorating economy", the fall of the Malaysian ringgit and the effect it has on the living and import costs "and there was no suggestion on how to overcome these problems".

Dr Mahathir, a fierce critic of Mr Najib, added: "Problems caused by GST (good and services tax) were not touched and he only mentioned how the government's finances were saved by the heavy taxes, which burdened the people."

KEEPING MUM?

The party's struggle and government under his leadership was not mentioned. There was no mention of problems like 1MDB and money worth RM2.6 billion in his... bank account.

DR MAHATHIR MOHAMAD, criticising the Prime Minister's speech

Contrary to Dr Mahathir's claims, Mr Najib did touch on these issues when he spoke to the delegates three times at Umno's annual meeting last week.

Mr Najib had told them that the 1MDB debts of RM42 billion at end-March last year were being "rationalised".

1MDB had sold its power-plant unit Edra Global Energy for RM17 billion, and further reductions of its debts are being worked on.

When Mr Najib spoke at a closed-door briefing for delegates, he told them about the US$680 million (S$957 million) "gift" from Middle East donors and said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had returned home after meeting the donors.

And in his policy address and winding-up speeches, the premier did say that he understood the impact the rising costs had on the people and laid out some steps to reduce their pain.

These included introducing train fare discounts for civil servants, senior citizens and students.

Meanwhile, police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said police will look into allegations made in pro-Najib website Malaysia Today that several prominent tycoons, together with with Dr Mahathir, plotted while they were in London to topple PM Najib, Malaysiakini news site reported yesterday.

On a related issue, the news site reported that Parliament's Public Accounts Committee will not get the auditor-general's final report on 1MDB tomorrow.

Malaysiakini said it understood that the delay was a request from the auditor-general.

The report could shed some light on what the government's auditor had uncovered at the troubled fund.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2015, with the headline 'Najib fails to address key issues: Mahathir'. Print Edition | Subscribe