PETALING JAYA: In an apparent twist on Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent rebuke on those who ruined Umno, former Umno leader Najib Razak said he was willing to forgive Mahathir if the latter sought forgiveness for his harsh words against Najib.
Mahathir, in a recent interview, had said he would never forgive those who had ruined Umno.
However, Najib, who was Umno president from 2009-2018, when it lost power, said in an interview today that he was willing to forgive Mahathir if the latter asked for forgiveness.
During an interview with the Malaysia Gazette news portal, he said if Mahathir feels he has done mistakes or sinned against Najib, he would forgive Mahathir.
“But if he doesn’t seek forgiveness, I will find him at padang masyar (the afterlife),” he said.
Najib said it is difficult not to be angry with Mahathir after all the harsh words targeted at him by the 95-year-old former prime minister and Umno leader, adding that the words are hard to be accepted by any individual. “I don’t deny, I have been really angry,” he said.
Najib said people have told him to move on but he said Mahathir continues to repeatedly go over the same issues, even though Najib has explained his actions.
Asked if he would like to meet Mahathir, Najib felt that Mahathir may not want to meet him; furthermore, the meeting should be between two willing parties, otherwise it might be pointless.
How Mahathir weakened Umno
During the interview Najib also spoke on how Mahathir weakened Umno in 1999 and of money politics in the party.
Najib said that in the 1999 general election, Mahathir had angered the majority of Malays due to a fall out with Anwar Ibrahim and it was the Chinese and Indians who had supported BN at that time.
However, he angered the Chinese too after failing to keep to his promises.
Umno enjoyed a resurgence of support in 2004 under Abdullah Ahmad Badawi but the party was weakened again after continuous attacks by Mahathir which led to Umno losing its two-third parliamentary majority in 2008, he added.
“When I took over the leadership, I took steps to correct the situation and won Perak, Kedah, Terengganu. The Malays were back to supporting us but the Chinese anger remains until today,” Najib added.
He said money politics peaked in 1993 when Mahathir was the prime minister. Najib said he then changed the party constitution to allow up to 150,000 members to vote for the party leadership and to reduce money politics. Under Mahathir only 2,500 division heads could vote for party leadership, he explained.
On ISA and media control
Najib said he repealed the Internal Security Act (ISA) as it was against human rights, adding that during Mahathir’s 22 years in power, the media was controlled and there was no alternative media, unlike now, to report on Mahathir’s scandals.
The lack of news did not mean there were no scandals during Mahathir’s time, he said, citing the Bank Negara Malaysia foreign exchange scandal involving losses of RM33 billion.
Najib said Mahathir had also placed over 100 politicians under ISA during the 1987 Operation Lalang, including opposition members.
He also said since Barisan Nasional lost power in the 2018 general election, he had asked his wife, Rosmah Mansor, to stay at home and keep a low profile. “Be at home and look after the grandchildren while I meet the grassroots.”
Meanwhile, Najib said “Cash is King” does not mean the use of money to buy votes. Stating his philosophy is different from Mahathir’s, he said he believes in using the country’s revenue for the B40 group to narrow the income gap between the rich and poor.
He further explained that the slogan Bossku was created by a group of youths he visited. “It was not planned. It was organic,” he said, adding that it went viral after he voiced the slogan to the youths. The slogan has led to some critics accusing Najib of referring to himself as the boss.
Najib also spoke about “the same people” doing deals during the Mahathir era. “A lot of people know this. The cronyism was widespread,” he said. Najib also repeated his criticism of Mahathir’s children being in business and being listed by Forbes for their wealth.
FREE MALAYSIA TODAY