Former prime minister Dr.Mahathir Mohamad has dropped a bombshell in the form of a laundry list of grouses against Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s handling of the country’s affairs.
Mahathir, who openly admits his role in triggering the downfall of his own replacement Abdullah Badawi, appears to have kicked off a campaign of dissent against Najib by voicing his deep disappointment at the Prime Minister’s failure to heed his advice on a range of subjects, from those of national importance to those that have to do with Umno.
Mahathir’s complaints about Najib’s policies and approach to governing are aired on his blog Chedet.cc. He says he regrets choosing Najib to replace Badawi, that he did not expect Najib to do worse, citing BN’s weakest ever performance in GE13.
He claims that he is merely venting the frustrations of many who share this view.
Chief among his complaints is that the repeal of the Internal Security Act, the Emergency Ordinance and the Restricted Residence Act has not pacified the opposition but instead contributed to increases in violent crimes as many gangsters previously held under these laws now roam freely.
In reference to Najib’s over accommodation of a neighbouring country, he says it is affecting even domestic policy. And then he remarks, in his trademark cynicism, that Najib does not similarly accommodate loyal supporters at home.
He says Najib’s economic policies are too populist, that local industries are neglected, imports unchecked, and increases in minimum wages have affected the competitiveness of domestic products. Referring to the use of BR1M to garner votes and popular support, he says it is a poor strategy to tackle poverty as it comes with undesirable side-effects on nation-building and makes people dependent on handouts.
His main theme and recurring argument is that the slew of unresolved issues are to be blamed squarely on Najib’s poor approach to governing. He cites the sorry state of ethnic relations and the deteriorating economy as visible signs of Najib’s poor governance.
In short, Mahathir has made Najib the whipping boy for the nation’s problems.
Mahathir believes it is incumbent upon himself to voice out these faults and inadequacies of Najib as no one else seems willing to do so. Without mincing his words, he calls upon Umno members, particularly the party leadership, to brave up and stop their apple polishing ways. He blames Umno’s unwillingness to speak up against Najib as a contributing cause of the government’s weakness and its impotence in dealing with important issues.
One wonders why in his exhaustive list Mahathir chooses to leave out the Sulu incursion of Sabah in February 2013. Is he concerned that the lax immigration policies of his era might be called into question, along with the Najib government’s less than sterling handling of the incursion? Or is he being careful not to upset the already resentful Sabah vote bank that Umno calls its fixed deposit?
For those who remember the sunset of Badawi’s era, this tirade of Mahathir’s against Najib might stir a strong sense of deja vu.
Zainuddin Maidin, a former information minister under Mahathir, puts it very graphically as he draws parallels with the campaign to remove Badawi. “This is a Mahathir strategy that taps into existing repressed discontent to cause ripples that grow into shock waves that will smash into the upcoming Umno General Assembly, as well as the Umno divisional meetings taking place currently,” he writes in his blog Zamkata. Zam should know; he was a trusted Mahathir lieutenant.