Mahathir attacks Najib: Hishammuddin calls for end to ongoing saga

Malaysian PM can't waste time refuting all of Mahathir's claims, says minister

DESPITE a call from Defence Minister and Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to cease his attacks against Prime Minister Najib Razak, there was no sign of relenting on the former premier's part.

Firing fresh salvoes in his latest blog posting yesterday, Dr Mahathir said that he was not alone in wanting answers, and that many others, including Datuk Seri Najib's own supporters, wanted answers over the debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

"They are scared. Some were asking me about 1MDB and wanted me to do something about it," Dr Mahathir wrote in his blog.

"Now, there're even threats against those who did not show their support towards Najib," he said in reference to his son, Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir, who was asked by one of his own assemblymen to either declare his support for Mr Najib or resign from his post.

Earlier at a press conference, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin told off Dr Mahathir, saying the ruling party could not afford to waste time responding to allegations against its leadership.

Mr Najib could not be expected to rebut every single allegation hurled at him by his harshest critic, said Mr Hishammuddin, who became the first top Umno leader to defend the party president.

"When is it going to stop? When are we going to stop having to answer all these allegations that have been raised day in day out by him (Mahathir)?" Mr Hishammuddin, who is Mr Najib's cousin, said.

"What is the end game, what is the purpose? If we continue like that, who is going to run the country?"

He reminded Dr Mahathir that when the latter was running the country, he had told Umno members to not let criticisms affect the party leadership.

Mr Hishammuddin also echoed a suggestion made by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is Umno's deputy president, for both Mr Najib and Dr Mahathir to resolve the matter like a son to a father.

Mr Hishammuddin stressed that Umno had faced a similar situation previously and would overcome the current crisis. 

"So, what is happening today, we can overcome it, on the condition that we look after party interest and country interest and our unity as a multiracial society," he said.

Over the weekend, Dr Mahathir resumed his tirade against Mr Najib, who had gone on national television last Thursday to clear the air over 1MDB and other controversial issues. In an interview with a group of bloggers, the former premier said the government should set up a "totally independent commission" to investigate 1MDB, the debt-ridden government-owned investment firm.

Dr Mahathir's attacks against the Prime Minister have sparked calls for action, such as a sedition probe, against him.

Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said yesterday that the police must accord due respect to Dr Mahathir, who ruled Malaysia for 22 years, and would, if there was a report filed against him, conduct the probe discreetly.

asruls@sph.com.sg