Two warnings in a week from Dr M, and it can only get worse for the PM


K Kabilan, The Ant Daily

In less than a week after supposedly securing support from 160 Umno division leaders, party president and Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, faced fresh criticism from the grand old man of Umno, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, raising questions once again if the groundswell of support is actually moving away from the prime minister.

Mahathir repeated his concerns over the alleged financial mismanagement of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) by warning that Barisan Nasional may just lose in the next general election if Putrajaya fails to clear the air on the allegations made against Najib’s brainchild 1MDB.

Writing on his blog on March 13, Mahathir said Najib’s decision to instruct the Auditor-General to look into 1MDB’s accounts was insufficient.

In fact, the former prime minister wants the police to do forensics investigation on allegations made against several people who were involved in 1MDB’s financial management.

Mahathir Che Det suspended

A failure to do so, added Mahathir, would result in BN losing more support in the next GE. He also pointed out that the public would ditch BN even if Umno leaders supported and were satisfied with the 1MDB explanation given to them by Najib.

Mahathir has been a constant critic of 1MDB, having previously asking Najib to explain how 1MDB benefited Malaysians. He had repeated that there was no need for the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund which had accrued a debt of RM42 billion within just five years of its operations.

The wealth fund is wholly-owned by the Ministry of Finance, of which Najib is the minister. He is also the chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisors. Earlier this week, the government had extended a standby credit of RM950 million to 1MDB, raising further question if the government is digging itself deeper into the 1MDB quagmire.

Mahathir also trained his guns at Najib’s so-called family inheritance, especially following Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz’s entry into the Hollywood scene and alleged purchases of properties in the UK and the US.

So far, Najib has maintained that there was nothing improper with 1MDB dealings and that the government had not lost any money as its initial investment was only RM1million. He had also said that RIza’s properties were purchased via the family legacy, though this legacy was disputed by Najib’s siblings.

Just days before his blog entry, Mahathir had similarly warned the government that the Najib-mooted goods and services tax (GST), which is to be implemented on April 1, will not go down well with the people.

He had warned that BN faced the risk of being voted out in the next GE and urged the people to send a message to Najib that they will not vote for him (BN) anymore if taxes were added.

That’s twice in a week now that Mahathir had sent his warning to Najib.

The public perception is definitely against Najib right now. His management of the nation’s finances, especially the manner he had allowed 1MDB to play around with money guaranteed by the government, has been under close scrutiny. People want answers and they want the government to be truthful to them.

Calling for an Auditor-General’s inspection into 1MDB accounts alone would not be sufficient. As the man in charge, Najib should instruct the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the police and Bank Negara to open investigations to check for any potential wrongdoings.

What is there to fear, especially when the man behind the 1MDB controversy, Jho Low, has indicated that he was willing to cooperate in any investigations?

Silence and no action on Najib’s part will only see 1MDB critics, including Mahathir, continuing with their attacks, up to a point where Najib may find himself all alone without any support, even if he had been innocent all along.

Interestingly, Mahathir’s blog appeared suspended just hours after his entry on 1MDB. No one has claimed responsibility as yet!