Najib: Dr M cannot dislodge me, lacks Umno chiefs’ support


Prime Minister Najib Razak says former Singapore PM Lee Kuan Yew had warned him that Mahathir was ‘like a heavyweight boxer, punching until he wears you out’.

(FMT) – Prime Minister Najib Razak attributes Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s inability to remove him from office as being partly due to the former PM not being close to Umno division chiefs like he had been over the past 30-40 years.

According to the Umno president, his predecessor had only operated through the mentris besar (MB) and chief ministers to manage the various divisions in their respective states, The Star reported today.

“Once the MBs were no longer there, he had no contact with the division heads. You’d be surprised, he didn’t know the names of many of them.

“But I don’t just rely on the MBs, I am part of them and that is why Mahathir cannot dislodge me from Umno. I was short of my 23rd birthday when I entered politics. It gave me a huge advantage because I grew up with over two generations of leaders in Umno,” Najib told the daily in an interview published today.

Najib also spoke about the vitriol that has come from Mahathir against him as something he did not expect but had been warned about by the former leader of a neighbouring country.

“Mahathir is obsessed about doing things his way, it’s his way or the highway. I thought he would go against me, what I did not anticipate was the meanness of his reaction.

“The late Lee Kuan Yew had told me that Mahathir was like a heavyweight boxer who keeps punching until he wears you out.

“I suppose that’s part and parcel of what the man is about. Unless he achieves absolute control, he’s not going to stop. Kuan Yew’s analysis of him was spot on,” the PM told The Star, referring to a conversation he had with the first prime minister of Singapore in 2009.

Najib also mocked the cooperation between Mahathir and his former political rivals PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim and DAP’s Lim Kit Siang, calling it the “epitome of Machiavellian politics” and the “height of hypocrisy”.

“Do you think its for the love of Kit Siang, do you think Kit Siang loves Mahathir?” Najib was quoted as saying by The Star, adding that he did not believe that the “strange bedfellows” would last long.

The PM believes that the fear factor by which Mahathir once ruled the party was no longer a worry for all those whom he had controlled.

“He ruled by fear. Once he was no longer Umno president, there was no more fear of him nor the ability to control and he could not determine things in Umno. There was respect but no fear,” Najib said, according to The Star.