KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 — After predicting the fall of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government under Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is now claiming that if the prime minister stays in power, the Malays here could become marginalised like their Singaporean brethren.
In a video of a Wednesday forum released online today by blogger Din Turtle, Dr Mahathir was seen reminding his audience that the struggle for the country is not for the personal goals of one man but for the survival of the nation, its race and its religion.
“I think we are smart people. Do we want to protect Najib? Or do we want to protect the Malays and the country?
“This is what we have to ask ourselves,” he said in his speech during the forum with several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at the Perdana Foundation.
Dr Mahathir cited again the example of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) controversy, his biggest pet peeve of the Najib government, and said that he found it difficult to imagine how the firm had racked up a RM42 billion debt.
“Its hard to even imagine RM1 billion… even RM1 million, some Malays don’t recognise… this is RM42 billion,” he said.
“But if we don’t acknowledge the crime that is happening here, there is a high likelihood that we will lose and we will be divided… And we will suffer the fate of the Malays in Singapore, in southern Thailand and other places.
“Now we are thankful because we are still in power but if Najib leads the country, we will lose that power in our hands and at that point, there won’t be anyone there to offer us protection,” he said.
Dr Mahathir has been at the forefront of attacks against the Najib administration and has been actively campaigning for the prime minister’s resignation, believing the latter will lead BN to doom in the next federal polls.
Among others, Dr Mahathir has attacked Najib over his handling of the controversy surrounding 1MDB, the troubled state-owned firm that has racked up a debt of RM42 billion since its inception in 2009.
Najib, however, has refused to step down and has responded to Dr Mahathir’s accusations – several times via his blog and once through a pre-recorded interview on TV3.
Dr Mahathir, however, has refused to relent.
In his speech at the forum, the outspoken 89-year-old told Najib: “I am aware… I am old. And Najib said why listen to one man when the entire country supports him (Najib)… so why listen to one man?
“I don’t know if I am one man or I am many. But I request that if we want to save ourselves, we must show the strength of numbers… that is very important.
“We have to remind everyone that our struggle is not or one man alone. It is for our country, our race, our religion and that is our struggle.”
Despite Dr Mahathir’s persistence, Najib has fought hard to resist the former’s calls for his resignation, repeatedly responding by saying that he has the support of the leadership in Umno, the country’s ruling party and BN lynchpin.
In his latest blog post on June 12, Najib fired back at Dr Mahathir, accusing him of using the 1MDB controversy as a ploy to attack him.
Najib pointed out that if the former prime minister was genuinely interested in getting answers, he only needed to wait for the conclusion of the various investigations by the Auditor-General, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Bank Negara on 1MDB.