KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was able to stay in power for decades only because of advantages granted to him by Umno’s previous constitution, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
Najib pointed out that he became Umno president after the election of the party’s top leaders was made open to more members, versus the time when only a select few were responsible for keeping Dr Mahathir as president.
“Last time, only 2,600 people from Kuala Lumpur will vote, and if you want to the challenge the president, support from 68 divisions is needed.
“Do you think it’s easy to get support from 68 divisions to run against the president? It is impossible; that is why Tun Mahathir could stay in power for 22 years,” he told during his speech at the Umno Veterans’ meeting in Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) today.
Najib added that as he was elected democratically, he should be given a chance to finish his term as party president and prime minister as well as achieve the goals he set for the country instead of bowing down to the calls for him to step down.
“Give me a chance, give me an opportunity to complete the country’s agenda. Why must disturb now when 2020 is just five years away? Isn’t that our vision together?” he said today.
Najib added that he continued with Vision 2020 even though it was Dr Mahathir’s idea, but said he chose to drop elements that he decided were not suitable.
“I don’t care if he (Mahathir) is the one that came up with Vision 2020, I continued it because it was good. But the ones which I feel should not continue, I did not implement,” he said.
Najib previously asserted that Dr Mahathir’s criticism was due to his desire for the “Crooked Bridge” to be revived and the 1 Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) discontinued.
The so-called “Crooked Bridge” was Dr Mahathir’s idea to replace the Causeway linking Johor and Singapore, but was discontinued by his successor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and believed to be among reasons why the latter was hounded out of office by the man who put him there.
Dr Mahathir, the country’s longest serving former prime minister, has been leading the on-going attacks against Najib’s leadership, even saying recently that the prime minister should resign before Barisan Nasional (BN) loses the next general election.
Chief among Dr Mahathir’s concerns is the leadership’s handling of allegations surrounding 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the state-owned investment firm that has amassed a debt pile worth over RM42 billion in just a few years.