Former premier Mahathir dares Malaysia's PM Najib to a debate

Dr Mahathir Mohamad had previously invited Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to public debates dubbed the "Nothing2Hide" forums in June 2015 and August 2017, but Mr Najib did not attend either of them.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad had previously invited Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to public debates dubbed the "Nothing2Hide" forums in June 2015 and August 2017, but Mr Najib did not attend either of them.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

KUALA LUMPUR - Former premier Mahathir Mohamad has again dared Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to a public debate, saying the latter should have nothing to fear from a 93-year-old.

"Yes, I will turn 93 this July. Yes, 93 years is old. Najib doesn't have to be afraid of me," wrote Tun Dr Mahathir, now chairman of opposition pact Pakatan Harapan, in his blog chedet.cc on Thursday (March 22).

Dr Mahathir had previously invited Datuk Seri Najib to public debates dubbed the "Nothing2Hide" forums in June 2015 and August 2017. However, Mr Najib did not attend either of them.

According to Dr Mahathir, Mr Najib, 63, did not dare attend and debate the issue of "hiding facts". "Instead the police were ordered to put a stop to the forum," he wrote.

"He is still young. What's there to be afraid of, debating with someone who's in his nineties," he asked.

Dr Mahathir left the ruling party Umno in 2016, after disagreements with Mr Najib over the billions of dollars allegedly misappropriated from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The investment company set up by the Najib administration in 2009 is at the centre of money-laundering probes in at least six countries, including the US, Switzerland and Singapore. The prime minister has denied any wrongdoing.

"If he (Najib) has nothing to hide, say it openly. And this old man will try to prove the various things that have been hidden by him. The people will listen and decide whether it's the young one or the old one who's hiding facts," wrote Dr Mahathir.

 
 

Dr Mahathir said that Mr Najib could bring along senior officers and foreign experts to "whisper the answers when he can't reply", including advisers from embattled data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica, which is being probed in Britain on claims it improperly accessed data from millions of Facebook users, has said on its website it supported the ruling Barisan Nasional government in its victorious 2013 election campaign in Kedah state.

Dr Mahathir's son Mukhriz Mahathir has been linked to the brewing controversy, as he spearheaded the BN campaign which led him to become chief minister of Kedah. Datuk Seri Mukhriz has denied any knowledge of the big data firm.

In his blog, Dr Mahathir also invited Mr Najib to grill him on his 22-year reign as prime minister, including on the billions lost at Malaysia's central bank in a foreign exchange scandal.

"I won't bring experts along. It will just be me," said the nonagenarian.