Malaysia needs change, says Najib's brother

Datuk Seri Nazir Razak called Malaysia a new icon of democracy, with this peaceful transition.
Datuk Seri Nazir Razak called Malaysia a new icon of democracy, with this peaceful transition.

KUALA LUMPUR • Congratulating Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for winning Malaysia's election, the younger brother of defeated former prime minister Najib Razak yesterday lamented the failure of past governments to overcome "structural rigidities and vested interest".

Dr Mahathir, who had been prime minister for 22 years until his retirement in 2003, had run a fierce campaign to bring down his former protege, accusing Datuk Seri Najib of corruption on a massive scale.

Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, the chairman of Malaysia's second largest bank, CIMB Group Holdings, said the country required change. "As I have argued ad nauseum, Malaysia needs major recalibration, but all attempts under the old order failed due to structural rigidities and vested interest," he said in an Instagram post.

He called Malaysia a new icon of democracy, saying it had "defied the odds and global trends with this peaceful transition to power in line with the will of the people".

He also compared Dr Mahathir with his late father and second prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein. "Both of them share the same determination to nation-build to the best of their ability and limits of personal sacrifices," he wrote.

Mr Nazir had criticised the "New Economic Policy" introduced by his late father in 1971, saying it had deviated from its original objective to eradicate poverty irrespective of race and eliminate identification of economic function with ethnicity.

Dr Mahathir came out of retirement to challenge Mr Najib after being angered by a scandal over billions of dollars that had gone missing from state fund 1MDB. Mr Najib, who congratulated Dr Mahathir on his victory on Twitter on Thursday, has consistently denied any wrongdoing related to 1MDB.

In the months after the scandal first broke in 2015, Mr Nazir said, without criticising his brother, that the handling of 1MDB had tarnished Malaysia's image.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2018, with the headline 'Malaysia needs change, says Najib's brother'. Print Edition | Subscribe