SUBANG JAYA • Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said it was "truly illogical" to blame him for the closure of The Loaf bakery that was started by former premier turned opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad.
Speaking to college students and graduates in Subang Jaya yesterday, Datuk Seri Najib said the blame game is the usual opposition way of pointing fingers at the government for everything that went wrong.
"The strangest attempt is when they tried to blame BN (Barisan Nasional government) for a bakery that went bankrupt.
"Even a bankrupt bakery that was forced to close down is the Prime Minister's fault? That is truly illogical," said Mr Najib, as quoted by Malaysiakini news site.
The brainchild of Tun Dr Mahathir, the 12-year-old lifestyle bakery and bistro was doing a roaring business serving breakfast and teatime crowds in Langkawi before it abruptly closed its doors last week, along with 11 other outlets in Malaysia.
Dr Mahathir, who now leads the federal opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan, told The Straits Times on Saturday that he had wanted to sell The Loaf to raise funds for his poll campaign. Malaysia's general election will be held on May 9.
Dr Mahathir said during a walkabout on Langkawi that he had faced some obstacles from the authorities. He had a prospective buyer, but "immediately the Income Tax Department went to his place and demanded that he should pay a lot of taxes".
"This is the way the government pressures people from supporting the opposition," he said.
The money from the sale will not be "very substantial", he said, "but we don't have any money at all for this election".
"Everybody has been forced to run away from me, all my friends cannot see me. If they see me, the Income Tax Department will come and demand (something)."
But Mr Najib - who did not mention Dr Mahathir by name in his speech - said there have been many financial scandals or losses that his opponent blamed on others.
"RM31 billion (Bank Negara) losses the fault of others, Maminco is the fault of others, MAS (Malaysia Airlines) nearly went bankrupt is the fault of others, Proton nearly went bankrupt is the fault of others, and bakeries shutting down is also the fault of others," said Mr Najib, as quoted by Malaysiakini.
Maminco was a company set up by the government in the 1980s to corner the global tin market, but made huge losses.
The financial scandals mentioned by Mr Najib happened during the 22-year prime ministership of Dr Mahathir that ended in 2003.