KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 ― Despite feeling wronged by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said he will forgive his mentor-turned-nemesis because Islam teaches its followers to be merciful.
The Pekan MP who was portrayed as Malaysia’s number one villain in the wake of the 1MDB global financial scandal was recently cast again as the main antagonist by Dr Mahathir for destroying “his” Umno — resulting in the country’s present messy political state.
“Indeed I felt angry. That I cannot avoid, because his words are too harsh, crosses the limit and are baseless, it is difficult to be accepted by any human.
“Truthfully, I cannot deny that in my heart, I was too angry. But like I said, as a person who practises his faith, if he asks for forgiveness, I will forgive him,” Najib said of Dr Mahathir in an interview with Malaysia Gazette on its Owh! MG programme aired on Facebook last night.
Explaining his reason, Najib said Islam requires its adherents forgive each other, adding that this is also the character of Allah, who is defined as being the most merciful.
“According to my religious practices, forgiving someone is a must in our faith. Firstly, the nature of Allah Himself. Allah, the most merciful.
“There are also verses in the Quran that says we must forgive. So if say, he has made a mistake or has committed sins towards me, if he asks for forgiveness, I would use my religion as a guide. I will forgive him, but if he does not ask for forgiveness, then he has to find me in Padang Mahsyar,” Najib said.
Padang Mahsyar refers to the Islamic justice system in the afterlife where people are judged based on their good and bad deeds.
However, Najib was not above making his own assertions about Dr Mahathir, even as he chose to take the religious high ground with his older political enemy.
In the interview, Najib said cronyism and the culture of money politics was rife during the 95-year-old Dr Mahathir’s first tenure as prime minister from 1981 to 2003.
Najib insinuated that a certain tycoon whom he did not name had reaped huge profits from gambling, construction and telecommunications contracts during the first Mahathir administration.
“And this person, we know is close to him. If he takes photos, it is always with him, if it's his birthday, he hosts his birthday parties. And there are few people like this whom other people know about, many people know about. I don't have to mention names, but people know. So this cronyism policy was rife during Dr Mahathir's era,” he said.
Najib said that when he took federal power, he tried to rid the country of money politics.
“During my time, I didn't practise cronyism,” he said.
He added that his “cronies” were the “rakyat”, insisting that the contracts for public projects awarded by his administration were to government-linked companies or statutory bodies like Permodalan Nasional Berhad, Khazanah Nasional, Lembaga Tabung Haji and the Armed Forces Fund Board instead of to private companies
The 67-year-old further asserted that he tried to amend Umno’s constitution and make the party more democratic, contrary to Dr Mahathir’s portrayal of him as its destroyer.
Najib was Malaysia’s sixth prime minister from 2009 to 2018. He was convicted of all seven charges of money laundering RM42 million, power abuse and criminal breach of trust in connection with SRC International Sdn Bhd last July and is currently appealing the verdict even as he is on trial for 1MDB.
Just two weeks ago, Dr Mahathir was interviewed by Malaysia Gazette on the same programme and was asked if he would ever forgive Najib, the son of his mentor, Malaysia’s esteemed second prime minister Tun Razak Hussein.
The 95-year-old Langkawi MP who replaced Najib after ousting his Barisan Nasional government said he would not, indicating that their differences were irreconcilable.
“I cannot forgive someone who destroyed my party,” Dr Mahathir said in the September 30 interview, adding: “That’s what he really did, until people came to really hate Umno”.