Malaysia’s former leader Mahathir Mohamad has often criticized the incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak through his popular blog. This time it is Najib who has used a blog to hit back at his former mentor and other critics of his administration.
Najib blogged his detailed response to 13 frequent allegations of his critics, which included some of the issues raised earlier by Mahathir such as the 2006 murder of a Mongolian translator, corruption in the bureaucracy, rising criminality, and mismanagement of the country’s finances.
Najib didn’t name Mahathir but he was clearly alluding to Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister. For example, he questioned the irony of a critic of the West using a Western media report which cited Malaysia as among the most corrupt nations in the world. “I find it troubling that someone who used to continually criticise the international media as being biased now suddenly believes and takes their arguments as the truth,” he wrote in obvious reference to Mahathir.
Responding to his alleged involvement in the murder of a Mongolian translator, Najib said this is an old issue that has been resurrected by “veteran leaders.” He described his accusers as “influential individuals (with) many resources.” He added that his accusers could have presented more evidence against him in the past: “When the issue erupted, I believe they would still have been able to verify the validity of the allegations. If they believed this to be true, why did they not raise it when the issue erupted 8 years ago? Why now?”
Najib reiterated his innocence and reminded the public that he swore an oath on the Quran in a Mosque to prove his claim. He also emphasized that the court has already determined the guilty person in the murder case.
Addressing the charge that his government has squandered the taxpayers’ money in an investment fund mess (1MDB), Najib lashed back at some politicians for sowing intrigue. “It is unfair for certain politicians to convict the government in the court of public opinion way before the actual facts are laid down by lawful authorities.”
Again, there’s no mention of Mahathir’s name but Najib cautioned the public about unreliable online sources like blogs with malicious motives. “If we are sincere in finding out the truth behind those allegations, we need to get the information from legitimate sources and not third-party news portals or online blogs that might have hidden agendas.” Reporters should ask him if Mahathir’s blog is among those with a “hidden agenda.”
In defending the cash subsidy for the poor (BR1M), Najib hit back at politicians who refuse to appreciate the economic soundness of the program: “Some politicians say that in spite of BR1M, the people are ‘not grateful.’ This is exactly why they believe it is bribery and are not on the same page as the fiscal committee. We see it as an economic measure, but these politicians see it purely in the context of politics.”
And finally, Najib confidently asserted that the ruling coalition will continue to prevail in the next elections despite Mahathir’s warning that the blunders of the incumbent leader will bring the party down.
“If we are united, and stop the infighting, we will succeed. If we focus on constructive rather than destructive politics, we will succeed. If we focus on work instead of believing and spreading rumours, spins and half-truths, we will succeed,” Najib wrote.
Many are now eagerly awaiting Mahathir’s rejoinder in his blog. Or he could pursue his challenge of conducting a public debate with Najib. Who will emerge victorious in this showdown between two heavyweights of Malaysian politics?