CYBERJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said he is "past his quiet stage" and has called for Prime Minister Najib Razak to step down in order to save the country and Umno.
Tun Mahathir also said Datuk Seri Najib's performance as premier was worse than his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
"If Umno wants to be saved it has to change its leader. Who should replace him is up to Umno but he has to step down," said Dr Mahathir to reporters after giving an address at the What Youth Should Know leadership conference here on Saturday.
Dr Mahathir said he is "past his quiet stage" and felt he should speak up as the country's global reputation has "gotten worse" during Mr Najib's tenure.
"I am not angry. I'm just thinking of our country. I have been keeping quiet over the last few years but I am past my quiet stage. Our country used to be known as one with a good administration. But not anymore. Now newspapers abroad are labelling Malaysia as the most corrupt country," said Dr Mahathir.
Dr Mahathir had also been critical of Tun Badawi during his term as premier.
Earlier, Dr Mahathir also answered many current controversial issues during a no-holds barred question-and-answer session. Among the topics he addressed were on hudud law, the murder of Altantuya Sharibuu and racial relations.
Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Mr Najib had to answer all the queries raised by Dr Mahathir.
Referring to the statement posted on the former prime minister's blog, chedet.cc on Thursday, Mr Khairy said ignoring these questions was not an option.
"I think, if we ignore this, things will get worse. Even if we feel that these issues have been answered, we need to answer them again, in more detail," he told reporters after his speech at the Youths Reject Extremism campaign in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
Mr Khairy said they strongly supported Mr Najib and disagreed with Dr Mahathir's opinion that Barisan Nasional would lose in the next general election under Mr Najib's leadership.
Dr Mahathir, in a blog post on Thursday, had claimed that people from all races would no longer trust Mr Najib because he did not answer the accusations hurled at him.
Among the accusations were those involving the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Sharibuu, the 1Malaysia Development Berhad controversy, and the purchase of a private jet for VVIP use.