Malaysia’s ousted deputy prime minister warned Saturday that the country is witnessing the rise of a new dictatorship and the collapse of democratic institutions.
Muhyiddin Yassin, who had been sacked from the cabinet last year after making comments critical of Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak related to the 1MDB scandal, was also suspended Friday as the ruling party’s deputy president by its highest decision-making body.
On Saturday, in a statement on Facebook written in Malay, the country’s national language, Muhyiddin hit out at Najib and the failure of his leadership of Malaysia. Muhyiddin alleged that Najib had undermined the country’s institutions – including the police, the Attorney General’s office, the central bank, and the anti-corruption commission – while also further consolidating power through draconian acts like the new National Security Council bill, as well as the suspension of Malaysian newspapers.
“In the face of public outrage at his leadership, Najib is using all the power that he has to suppress the voice of the opposition and silence his critics. We are really witnessing the collapse of democratic institutions and the emergence of a new dictatorship,” he warned.
Muhyiddin’s statement came just a day after former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, now one of Najib’s fiercest critics, said Malaysia was heading towards becoming a dictatorship like North Korea after the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) blocked access to online news portal The Malaysian Insider.
Apart from hitting out at Najib, Muhyiddin also rejected the unanimous decision Friday by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) Supreme Council to relieve him of his deputy president post for failing in his duty to support and assist the prime minister. He said he had never neglected his responsibilities, and that he had only rebuked Najib for his involvement in the 1MDB scandal because he believed that the premier was mistakenly acting against the interest of the party and he had an obligation to speak out.
“Does helping the president mean supporting him blindly including defending his mistakes? I do not think so. If Najib made a mistake, then it is obligatory for me and others in UMNO to admonish him and ask him to correct his mistake for the sake of the party,” Muhyiddin said.
“If he continues to make mistakes, and everyone in UMNO defends his mistakes, the adverse effects will be felt by UMNO.”
Muhyiddin also said he had been told directly by the former Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail that there was enough evidence to prove that Najib was guilty of wrongdoing in the 1MDB scandal.
And though Muhyiddin said would not appeal the decision of the UMNO Supreme Council, the former deputy prime minister also took a moment to tell Malaysians to demand change, including Najib’s resignation.
“If we want to see Malaysia return to being a respected country and for the people to enjoy a better life, we must be willing to work together to demand change. This involves not only calling for the prime minister to step down, but rejecting political institutions that have failed to meet the aspirations of the people,” he said.