New phase in Dr M’s game may be afoot


Many had written him off, but he’s back with a vengeance.

Scott Ng, Free Malaysia Today

Flanked by Muhyiddin Yassin, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Shafie Apdal, Sanusi Junid and Ong Tee Kiat, Mahathir Mohamad on Monday savaged Prime Minister Najib Razak with a fervour rarely associated with a man of 90. He sat in his stronghold in Putrajaya, playing to the crowd of reporters before him like a bowler in a cricket match, throwing the hard, solid ball again and again into Najib’s face.

Just a few weeks ago, everyone had all but written off Mahathir. His agents were arrested and Umno seemed to have rallied behind Najib. It looked like his plans had been foiled. “He’s human after all,” we told ourselves, “and now he knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end. If nothing else, at least there’s a lesson learnt.”

And who could blame us? Mahathir had spent the better part of a year in his campaign to oust Najib. He had cajoled, petitioned and protested, but there seemed no end in sight. The Cabinet was reshuffled, the 1MDB task force was all but disbanded, two rallies took place, Malaysia’s name has been dragged through the mud, and now the normally taciturn Bank Negara has been forced to protect its reputation by publicly declaring that it did find something amiss with 1MDB and said so in its report to the Attorney-General.

And yet, through all of this, the PM has sat like a rock upon his throne in Putrajaya, obviously irritated but seemingly not too alarmed by all the noise.

Mahathir’s press conference may have technically been about the use of a draconian law against Matthias Chang and Khairuddin Abu Hassan, but it was really about getting rid of Najib. He and the others spoke at length on 1MDB, on Umno and BN, and on whether or not there should be a no-confidence vote. The message was crystal clear: Najib must go.