What Malaysia media say about Najib's retort to charges against him

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak went on national television on Thursday night to confront a range of charges levelled against him by Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The former prime minister has criticised Mr Najib on issues relating to the economy, the debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, and the 2006 murder of Mongolian interpreter Altantuya Shaariibuu, among other things.

Here's a look at what some Malaysian media say about Mr Najib, a day after the interview:

Beyond Dr Mahathir's questions lies the issue of trust

A commentary in the Malaysian Insider said none of Mr Najib's answers were new or illuminating. "And therein lies the crux of the issue of Dr Mahathir's criticism of Najib, or for that matter anyone's criticism about the prime minister. There is no trust in him anymore and his answers last night are less convincing than ever,'' said the commentary.

It said Mr Najib had Dr Mahathir's trust when he took over from Mr Abdullah Badawi in 2009 and kept that trust despite losing more seats in the 2013 election. It was only last year that Dr Mahathir came round to what others had been saying about Mr Najib - that he was worse than Mr Badawi in running the government.

The state investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), will be closed down once its assets are sold and there is no guarantee that anyone who caused those losses will face the law, the news portal said. The Altantuya murder remains unsolved in terms of motive and the government has yet to show prudence in tightening its belt even as it asks the same from all Malaysians. Trust, like Mr Najib's answers, is sorely lacking, the commentary concluded.

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Expect more fireworks from Dr Mahathir

Many political observers believe that Mr Najib's remarks on Thursday have shredded whatever little hope is left for reconciliation with Dr Mahathir, according to a commentary on Malaysiakini news portal.

Among others, Mr Najib suggested that Dr Mahathir was doing to him what the former premier did to Mr Badawi, which is to exert undue influence on the government administration.

Mr Najib resurrected the infamous "crooked bridge" issue, stating that Dr Mahathir wanted the government to construct it to replace the Johor causeway. The former leader also wanted an end to the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) cash handouts.

The message which Mr Najib had intended to put across was that Dr Mahathir should not meddle in government affairs, said the commentary. It concluded that Mr Najib's remarks would not placate Dr Mahathir and the latter could be expected to up the ante in the coming days and weeks.

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A face-to-face session between Dr Mahathir and Mr Najib?

Mr Najib's interview has been a talking point among Twitter users since Thursday night, with many asking why the session had to be pre-recorded and not aired live, Malaysian Insider reported. Social media users also felt there should be a debate between the two men.

Twitter user Rauff Jinx #13 posted: "Courage? Firstly its recorded. Secondly definitely scripted. My 3 year old acts better in front of the camera #PMSpeaks."

Sangetha Jayakumar was among those who hoped to see a live debate between the former and current prime ministers: "This would be awesome if the interviewer was DrM. Or better still a live debate between the 2."

There were also voices of support for Mr Najib. "PM Najib did a very good job on #PMSpeaks. Never mind the nay-sayers. Haters will be haters. We are behind u sir @NajibRazak! All the way," tweeted +Yazid Atan? @yazidatan

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BN component parties In Labuan pledge support for Mr Najib

Umno and other Barisan Nasional component party branches in Labuan have pledged their full support for Mr Najib, Bernama news agency reported.

Labuan Umno chief Rozman Isli said the prime minister had turned Labuan into an oil and gas hub, creating thousands of employment opportunities and economic spillovers.

"This augurs well for Labuan's economy and for the people here, and all those under his leadership," he was quoted as saying. "The prime minister must be given the chance to lead the country with his own style of leadership without being criticised," he said.

Labuan Malaysian Chinese Association chief Chin Hon Vui also said Chinese community leaders had pledged and given the assurance that they would continue to support Mr Najib's leadership.

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