HULU KELANG: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will likely replace Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak should the latter heed the call to step down, former prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said at a forum yesterday.
In the continuing spat between Najib and Mahathir, the nation’s longest serving prime minister said it is the tradition in Umno for the deputy to take over when the premier’s post is vacated.
“Najib’s replacement will of course be his deputy, it is customary in Umno; I am confident that if the deputy takes the top post he will not make the same mistakes, because if he does then he will get deposed as well,” he said at the Bicara Negarawan forum at K-Klub in Taman Melawati.
Mahathir, who is Proton chairman, recently started launching scathing criticisms against Najib’s leadership on his blog at chedet.cc and called on the embattled leader to step down due to various issues and controversies or BN will risk losing government.
Among the topics raised by Mahathir were 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) RM42 billion debt and questionable investments made by the sovereign wealth fund, the mysterious murder of Mongolian Model Altantuya Shaariibuu, and the lavish lifestyle of Najib and his wife.
He also said at the forum that Najib should have resigned after a poor showing during the 13th General Election, in which BN only managed to win 133 parliamentary seats while Pakatan Rakyat won 89 seats.
Mahathir said something went wrong in between 2004 to 2008, when BN won 90% of seats in Parliament during GE11 but subsequently lost two-thirds majority in GE12, winning only 140 seats with then newly formed Pakatan Rakyat snatching 82 seats.
He said Najib should have reversed the tide but BN lost seven more seats under his leadership in GE13 and now BN risks losing GE14 with various scandals plaguing the government, something Mahathir will never forgive should it happen.
“With all these scandals surrounding Najib, including the Altantuya issue, he cannot lead BN to victory in the coming general election; even without the scandals he is not performing very well.
“If Najib continues to be Prime Minister, this will be the end of BN and Umno, and I will not forgive him for it,” Mahathir said while the crowd of some 1,000 packed into a small hall roared in approval.
He said Najib was appointed as former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s successor to show gratitude towards Malaysia’s second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, whom Mahathir called his mentor and without which he would have never became prime minister.
Mahathir, who will be turning 90 this year, said Najib also showed potential to be a charismatic leader because he is educated and stylish but suggested that power had corrupted him once he had gotten a hold of it.
He lamented that he could only sit on the sidelines and watch as the scandals surrounding Najib unfolded since he had already stepped down in 2003 and have retired from active politics.
“Perhaps I should have stayed as Prime Minister, now I can’t do anything,” Mahathir quipped.
He added that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) should just be abolished as even the implementing agency does not seem to understand the tax well.
“Just abolish the GST, we already had the Sales and Services Tax (SST) before, which could have been increased or widened; you can’t implement something that even it’s own officers don’t understand,” Mahathir said.
Also present was Mahathir’s wife Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali, and National Defence University of Malaysia lecturer and controversial newspaper columnist Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah. – The Sun