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.

Ask and I will forgive, otherwise find me in Padang Mahsyar, Najib tells Dr Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR ― Despite feeling wronged by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said he will forgive his mentor-turned-nemesis because Islam teaches its followers to be merciful.

The Pekan MP who was portrayed as Malaysia’s number one villain in the wake of the 1MDB global financial scandal was recently cast again as the main antagonist by Dr Mahathir for destroying “his” Umno — resulting in the country’s present messy political state.

“Indeed I felt angry. That I cannot avoid, because his words are too harsh, crosses the limit and are baseless, it is difficult to be accepted by any human.

“Truthfully, I cannot deny that in my heart, I was too angry. But like I said, as a person who practises his faith, if he asks for forgiveness, I will forgive him,” Najib said of Dr Mahathir in an interview with Malaysia Gazette on its Owh! MG programme aired on Facebook last night.

“According to my religious practices, forgiving someone is a must in our faith. Firstly, the nature of Allah Himself. Allah, the most merciful.

“There are also verses in the Quran that says we must forgive. So if say, he has made a mistake or has committed sins towards me, if he asks for forgiveness, I would use my religion as a guide. I will forgive him, but if he does not ask for forgiveness, then he has to find me in Padang Mahsyar,” Najib said.

Padang Mahsyar refers to the Islamic justice system in the afterlife where people are judged based on their good and bad deeds.

However, Najib was not above making his own assertions about Dr Mahathir, even as he chose to take the religious high ground with his older political enemy.

In the interview, Najib said cronyism and the culture of money politics was rife during the 95-year-old Dr Mahathir’s first tenure as prime minister from 1981 to 2003.

Najib insinuated that a certain tycoon whom he did not name had reaped huge profits from gambling, construction and telecommunications contracts during the first Mahathir administration.

“And this person, we know is close to him. If he takes photos, it is always with him, if it’s his birthday, he hosts his birthday parties. And there are few people like this whom other people know about, many people know about. I don’t have to mention names, but people know. So this cronyism policy was rife during Dr Mahathir’s era,” he said.

Najib said that when he took federal power, he tried to rid the country of money politics.

“During my time, I didn’t practise cronyism,” he said.

He added that his “cronies” were the “rakyat”, insisting that the contracts for public projects awarded by his administration were to government-linked companies or statutory bodies like Permodalan Nasional Berhad, Khazanah Nasional, Lembaga Tabung Haji and the Armed Forces Fund Board instead of to private companies

The 67-year-old further asserted that he tried to amend Umno’s constitution and make the party more democratic, contrary to Dr Mahathir’s portrayal of him as its destroyer.

Najib was Malaysia’s sixth prime minister from 2009 to 2018. He was convicted of all seven charges of money laundering RM42 million, power abuse and criminal breach of trust in connection with SRC International Sdn Bhd last July and is currently appealing the verdict even as he is on trial for 1MDB.

Just two weeks ago, Dr Mahathir was interviewed by Malaysia Gazette on the same programme and was asked if he would ever forgive Najib, the son of his mentor, Malaysia’s esteemed second prime minister Tun Razak Hussein.

The 95-year-old Langkawi MP who replaced Najib after ousting his Barisan Nasional government said he would not, indicating that their differences were irreconcilable.

“I cannot forgive someone who destroyed my party,” Dr Mahathir said in the September 30 interview, adding: “That’s what he really did, until people came to really hate Umno”. – MALAY MAIL