KUALA LUMPUR – Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told the High Court today he did not think that his attempt to topple Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would destroy UMNO.
He admitted that he had tried to bring down Najib since 2014, but that the attempt would not destroy UMNO but Najib who, he said, had brought disrepute to UMNO.
Dr Mahathir, 92, who is chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), said this when responding to a question from counsel Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos during cross-examination in the hearing of the defamation suit filed by his son, Datuk Seri Mukhriz, against Datuk Seri Tengku Sarifuddin Tengku Ahmad, press secretary to the Prime Minister.
Dr Mahathir, the second witness of plaintiff Mukhriz, also admitted that PPBM was in opposition to UMNO.
The former UMNO president also said that one of the three vice-presidents of UMNO could be appointed by the UMNO president as the deputy prime minister. Dr Mahathir himself had appointed Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was an UMNO vice-president then, as the deputy prime minister to succeed the sacked Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Earlier, Mukhriz, when asked about his contesting a post of UMNO vice-president and the interpretation by UMNO members that he had the intention to become the prime minister, said: “Although it is a stepping stone, there is no guarantee one can be the prime minister.”
“I think UMNO members are aware that contesting a post of vice-president is no guarantee to be the prime minister,” he said.
Mukhriz also told the court that his father had never encouraged him to be active in politics but he had his own reasons for doing so.
Mukhriz, who was represented by counsel Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, filed the suit on May 3, 2016, claiming that Tengku Sarifuddin had issued two statements of a defamatory nature against him in April of that year.
He claimed that the statements implied that Dr Mahathir and Muhyiddin conspired in a malicious campaign to topple a legally elected government and that the plaintiff was still involved directly in the plot of Dr Mahathir and Muhyiddin.
The next hearing, before Judge Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim, has been set for Oct 19 and 20. – BERNAMA