Dr Mahathir hits out following Najib's broadside

DR Mahathir Mohamad today responded to Najib Razak’s broadside at a dinner last week, providing a point-for-point rebuttal to the prime minister’s speech at a United Nations event in Kuala Lumpur.

The battle between the one-time mentor and protege has escalated in recent months, culminating in Dr Mahathir calling Najib a Bugis pirate – a remark that is now subject to a sedition investigation after the Selangor Royal Court took exception to it, saying it demeaned the state’s ruler.

Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister has been on the warpath with Najib over the past three years, after earlier supporting him to take over, in 2009, from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, whom Dr Mahathir had repudiated after making the latter his successor in 2003.

Taking to his popular chedet blog today, Dr Mahathir pointed out that Najib’s lengthy broadside in a keynote address, titled “Governance in a Developing Democracy”, at the dinner organised by the UN Association Malaysia, was directed at him, although he was not named.

Najib, in his speech, lamented what he termed to be the “epidemic of fake news”.

Below is Dr Mahathir’s rebuttal in full to Najib’s speech, which was reported by Malaysiakini.

Dr Mahathir: What fake news! If it is fake, prove that the US Department of Justice’s report about purchases of residence in the UK and the US, Wolf of Wall Street film, purchases of paintings, pink diamonds, did not happen, that US$ 3.5 billion of Riza’s (Riza Aziz, who is Najib’s stepson) money came from his family, that 1Malaysia Development Berhad money did not pass through Singapore banks as reported by officials, that US$ 681 million was not in his account at AmBank, that Jho Low is not the recipient of 1MDB money. Don’t just deny. Don’t ignore. Give proof.

All money transactions are documented. Show us the documents on all the transactions involving 1MDB money. Sue the DoJ, the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Let Jho Low answer questions by American authorities.

Najib had said: From time to time, some Western media outlets have been featuring interviews with one of our former leaders and presenting his allegations about the country as facts.

They are not. This former leader has been on a nearly three-year mission to illegitimately topple the democratically elected government of Malaysia in between election cycles.

Dr Mahathir: What is illegitimate about toppling a democratically elected government? It has happened in Brazil, in South Korea and in many democratic countries in the past, between elections. The evidence against the overthrown leaders was not even clear. And they were overthrown. Here, the evidence is overwhelming, but hidden by the attorney-general. If the A-G charges him in court, he would be overthrown today.

This former leader, Najib added, had tried “every method at his disposal and failed each time”.

Dr Mahathir: The attempts failed because there is no rule of law in Malaysia. Reports against Najib result in the arrest and jailing of the man reporting. Reports by institutions are made official secrets. Judgment is passed by the A-G, not a court of law. Have a proper hearing and I will accept the verdict. If guilty, step down.

As a result, Najib said, the leader was making himself available to any media organisation that was willing to listen so that he could “spread fake news and tell lies about his country for selfish political gains”.

Dr Mahathir: The print and electronic media in Malaysia is controlled by the government. Even Parliament cannot discuss 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion in Najib’s account. The Umno General Assembly was instructed to be silent on these matters. Am I supposed to censor myself when asked by foreigners? I have been talking to foreigners throughout my life. Prove that what I say is fake. Let’s have Nothing to Hide 3.

Najib said: He seems to think that if he tells a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it is true. And unfortunately, that may be the case as no one would expect a former leader to tell outright untruths.

Najib cited the former leader’s oft-repeated claim that Malaysia was among the top 10 most corrupt countries in the world.

“When challenged to produce evidence for this, he is unable to do so. That is because it is nonsense.”

Dr Mahathir: It is the foreign media that repeatedly and extensively publishes Malaysia as among the 10 most corrupt countries, here, here, here, here and here to name a few. During by-elections, money was openly paid to voters, kitchen appliances were given. Budget 2018 is offering money to people prior to an election. I don’t have to repeat my accusations. The people are already repeating them and telling me.

Citing Transparency International’s (TI) latest ranking, Najib pointed out how Malaysia was listed among the top third of least corrupt countries, at 55th place out of 176.

Dr Mahathir: What about TI chief Jose Ugaz’s speech on September 2, 2015, at the opening of the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Malaysia?

Among the things Ugaz said: “…What does that mean for Malaysia? The government has taken measures and initiatives to tackle corruption. We will surely hear that from the minister. We want to see more progress, but that cannot happen while there are unanswered questions about the US$700m that made its way into the prime minister’s personal bank account.

“In recent weeks, we have seen the A-G, who was critical of the government, suddenly replaced, the 1MDB task force suspended, investigators at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission arrested or transferred, and newspapers suspended for reporting on the matter. These are not the actions of a government that is fighting corruption. We may well hear promises of reform. That is not what is needed at this time. And, promises alone will not restore confidence and trust.

“There are two questions that need to be answered: who paid the money and why? Where did it go? One man could answer those questions. If that does not happen, then only a fully independent investigation, free from political interference, can uncover the truth. Until that happens, no claim from the government on anti-corruption will be credible.”

You can read the whole speech here.

On the former leader’s claim that the country was going bankrupt, Najib refuted this by quoting the World Bank, which stated that the “Malaysian economy is progressing from a position of strength”.

Dr Mahathir: The Malaysian government’s total debt is almost RM1 trillion. Show how you are going to pay this. Let independent auditors audit KWSP, Tabung Haji, KWAP, FGV and PNB.

Najib said: Another, which is laughable, is that Malaysia is in danger of sliding into a dictatorship.

Dr Mahathir: There already is a dictatorship in Malaysia now. There is no rule of law. The A-G prevents Najib’s case from going to court. Opposition figures are hounded and detained. Possible supporters of the opposition are accused by MACC of corruption and money laundering without proof.

Ignoring the RM2.6 billion in Najib’s account, MACC is, instead, accusing, detaining and questioning a former minister on an unfounded suspicion of corruption.

Najib insisted that elections are fiercely fought in the country, while the opposition has significant representation in Parliament and also controls three states.

Dr Mahathir: Elections were free before. Now, there is a lot of cheating, especially in postal votes. In Pekan, Najib’s margin of 250 in 1999 increased to 25,000 in 2004, while the electorate increased from 35,000 to 80,000. There is no way for these increases to happen. Obviously, the additional voters were created out of nothing. Financing of the opposition is actively blocked by Najib. All banks, even private ones, are closed to the opposition.

“We have allowed demonstrations against the government in Kuala Lumpur. These are not the markers of a dictatorship. The claim is ridiculous. The irony is that this former leader has admitted that he himself was a dictator when in office. And these are his words, not mine,” said Najib to laughter from the audience.

Dr Mahathir: If I can call myself a dictator, Najib should call himself a tyrant. I respected the law and I resigned of my own free will. Let’s see Najib do the same. Najib abuses the law with the help of the inspector-general of police and A-G. Or, he should consider calling himself a crook. After all, he attained that acclaim in a Newsweek report when he visited US President Donald Trump.

Despite all these, Najib noted that many things have changed since the former leader’s time.
“We have made it clear that there will be no more crony capitalism. We have invested in the infrastructure and public transport Malaysia needs, and in opposition states, as well as Barisan Nasional states, unlike his time.”

Dr Mahathir: I had no Jho Low or Riza Aziz.

Apart from his veiled attack against Dr Mahathir, Najib, in his speech, outlined initiatives he had undertaken, which, he claimed, were essential to good governance in the country.

“Firstly, the concept of 1Malaysia, People First, Performance Now; secondly, the Government Transformation Programme; and thirdly, the Economic Transformation Programme.”

Dr Mahathir: This concept is great. People are the first to bail out the government through the goods and services tax. The only “performance” we see is the corruption of senior government servants, hospitals without medicine, low-cost housing not built, additional taxes based on nothing, and raids to oppress people and deter them from supporting the opposition. Registration of the opposition coalition has not been given. 1Malaysia is about BN first. The only transformation are the new security laws being tightened and more power to the prime minister to detain people.

He also cited his brainchild – the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) – which he said was launched to further strengthen the country.

Dr Mahathir: TN50 is launched. By 2050, the debt will bankrupt the country. The RM1 trillion national debt will increase to RM3 trillion. The ringgit will depreciate further.

The government’s bottom-up approach in TN50, he said, was a clear example of the government practising good governance in response to the changing needs of a young population.

Dr Mahathir: “Bottom-up” means the people must pay GST, endure the high cost of living, no scholarship for their children, while Najib enjoy the billions stolen from 1MDB, KWAP, KWSP, etc.

“The economic performance I have outlined and the acclaim we have received from international organisations should be conclusive proof of the good governance this government has practised in Malaysia,” Najib said.

Dr Mahathir: What acclaim! Is being called a kleptocratic country an acclaim? – November 3, 2017.

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