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KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak had asserted that “cash is king”, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed today in response to his concerns over the incumbent prime minister’s controversial Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) cash aid policy.
The former prime minister who has been critical of the direct cash handouts to lower-income groups, also mocked the Najib administration’s alleged payments to supporters to hold “I heart PM” placards.
“You can’t give money to the population, but he said ‘Cash is king’,” Dr Mahathir told a press conference after speaking at the Cooler Lumpur Festival here.
“You don’t ask your girlfriend to give a placard. If they love you, they’ll love you,” he added, referring to the “I heart PM” placards held by Barisan Nasional (BN) supporters that were seen commonly in the run up to the 13th general election two years ago.
Dr Mahathir also expressed disappointment that BN recorded its worst ever electoral performance in Election 2013 under Najib’s leadership.
“You didn’t even do as well as the sleeping prime minister,” said Dr Mahathir, referring to Najib’s predecessor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The ruling coalition lost seven more federal seats than in Election 2008, where it had lost its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority.
“I’d said before, ‘if you do worse than Pak Lah, you should resign’. Then 1MDB (came),” he added, referring to the debt-laden 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Dr Mahathir said he could not accept it that the state-owned fund was “losing billions of government money”.
When asked if no one was good enough for Dr Mahathir after having criticised the country’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, followed by his hand-picked sucessor Abdullah and now Najib, the Kedah-born said: “If I thought no one was good enough for me, I would never have resigned.”
“I thought there should be people better than me. I resigned on my own; it’s not because people were fed up with me,” he said.
He added that it would be wrong if he doesn’t criticise wrong things being done.
Dr Mahathir also said if BN loses the next election, those who purportedly cover up wrongdoings will be held liable for being an accessory to the crime.
Dr Mahathir has been openly pushing for Najib’s resignation, citing the controversy surrounding 1MDB that is facing a huge debt burden of RM42 billion.