PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The 1Malaysia programme to promote national unity was among the reasons relationship between former premier Najib Razak and current Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad soured, said Najib.
In an interview with Malaysiakini, Najib said Tun Dr Mahathir was not happy with some of his projects and policy decisions.
"In the early stages after I became prime minister, around 2009 and even after the 13th general election, we were still on very good terms," Najib said.
But, he said, Dr Mahathir grew increasingly angry at him due to his refusal to fulfil his many requests.
He said the first thing Dr Mahathir requested was the crooked bridge project, a six-lane S-shaped highway meant to replace the link from Johor Baru to Singapore, of which Najib was not able to approve.
"The project was cancelled by Pak Lah (former prime minister Abdullah Badawi). It would be very hard for me to explain to the public if we restart the project, especially after hefty compensation was already paid for the cancellation," Najib said.
He said Dr Mahathir had also requested for more funds to develop Langkawi and for his son Mukhriz Mahathir to become the Kedah Menteri Besar.
Najib told Malaysiakini that even though he fulfilled some of Dr Mahathir's requests, the 92-year-old remained unhappy with him.
"He was not happy about certain things like 1Malaysia. He was not happy about the jet. The jet was bought by Pak Lah, but I notice until today he (Mahathir) is still using it," he added.
1Malaysia was a programme designed by Najib on Sept 16, 2010, to promote ethnic harmony, national unity, and efficient governance. Najib had said that initiatives and aid for the needy would be intensified and these included the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M), 1Malaysia Housing Programme for Civil Servants, 1Malaysia People's Housing Projects, 1Malaysia Clinics, 1Malaysia Student Discount Card and aid for farmers, smallholders, fishermen and Felda settlers.
Najib said in the interview that Dr Mahathir was also angry at the abolishment of the Internal Security Act, lifting of the Emergency Ordinance, the treatment of Proton - the car company founded during Dr Mahathir's first premiership stint in 1983 - and the implementation of a minimum wage.
Najib also questioned Dr Mahathir's change in persona from the man who was instrumental in Malay rights group Perkasa's founding to a Pakatan Harapan "reformist".
He told Malaysiakini that he was surprised to see Dr Mahathir joining hands with Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP), a party Dr Mahathir used to label as racist and anti-Malay.
"So when they got together, that was something I did not expect," Najib said.
"(But) I suppose once you join the (then) opposition, you are sanitised. You become completely absolved of all these things as far as they are concerned," he added.
Najib also denied that Umno had demonised DAP.
"I did not explicitly say they were racist or anti-Malay or anti-Islam, but I did express concerns about DAP because of their policies," he said.