Najib has hurt Malaysia's sovereignty: Mahathir

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Nov 2. PHOTO: EPA

KUALA LUMPUR • Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has accused Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak of hurting the country's sovereignty by agreeing to multibillion-dollar deals with China.

The deals inked in China this week by Datuk Seri Najib could threaten Malaysia's independence, including its territorial claim in the South China Sea, which is also claimed by China, the Malaysiakini news site quoted him as saying yesterday.

He is especially concerned about Malaysia's loan of RM55 billion (S$18.2 billion) from China to build a railway line to link capital city Kuala Lumpur with Kelantan.

"We already have big debt, now we are going to owe such a large sum from a single source," he said.

"We were free... to have relations with any country. We were not tied down by agreements with any bloc. This freedom will also be affected if we are going to owe such a large sum to any one country," he told reporters after introducing his new party's supreme council members. He formed the opposition Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia as a platform to topple Mr Najib.

"It appears as if we are changing our approach to South China Sea, that we are willing to give up our claims," Tun Dr Mahathir said.

Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin claimed that the Malaysia flag in the disputed areas had been removed. "This compromises our right simply because we need help from a foreign country," said the former deputy prime minister.

Meanwhile, the communications director of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Mr Fahmi Fadzil, asked why there were no protests from Umno when strategic power plant assets were sold off to a China company.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2016, with the headline Najib has hurt Malaysia's sovereignty: Mahathir. Subscribe