IT WOULD be up to Malaysian people to decide what to do with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak should the newly formed coalition Pakatan Harapan, chaired by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, win the election and form a government.
“Even if I try to have a deal with him, it’s not going to work because people are very angry with Najib,” Mahathir said in an interview from Malaysia with Suthichai Yoon, co-founder of The Nation newspaper in Bangkok, during a Facebook Live session on Friday morning.
Mahathir said the Pakatan Harapan coalition had enough support to topple the present prime minister but he believed that Najib would use all kinds of illegal means to retain his position and power.
“We can win the majority. The only problem we have is that Najib will cheat, he will bribe and do all kinds of things to maintain his leadership because he knows if he’s not the prime minister, he will be charged in court and land in jail,” Mahathir said.
Suthichai asked if Mahathir was afraid Najib would sue him for the former prime minister’s public allegations about current leader. “So far he has not sued me, although I accused him of being a thief and robber. What he is trying to do is dig up some records [from] 30 years ago when the Central Bank lost |some money, implying I directed it.”
Najib had set up a royal commission of inquiry to look into a three-decades-old event, which had been cleared by Malaysia’s parliament, Mahathir said.
Suthichai also asked if Mahathir had any regrets about his treatment of his former political opponent Anwar Ibrahim in 1998.
Mahathir defended his conduct, saying he was just responding to the situation at that moment.
“But now, it is different. If |we keep on raking up the past, |you can never work with anybody. You will always be fighting |against your enemies, and that |is bad.
“I’m not angry over the past, and he is not angry over the past also,” he added.
Under Mahathir’s leadership in 1998, Anwar, the then-deputy premier, was fired from the cabinet.
The former prime minister also told Suthichai that Anwar, who is now serving a jail term, was quite capable of becoming prime minister.
Anwar has been tried and convicted for corruption and sodomy.
Mahathir added that if the coalition he chairs wins the election, the next premier would find a way to release Anwar and arrange a royal pardon.
He and Anwar shared the same objective to remove Najib, Mahathir said, adding that |Anwar realised that with Najib still on the scene, nothing could be done to free him or get him |a royal pardon. “There is a time that we forget the past when the future becomes dangerous,” he said.
He and his supporters had tried many ways to overthrow Najib’s government but failed, Mahathir said, adding that they would now try to win the election in a democratic way and would not ignore the laws and constitution.
Asked who could be the prime minister if the coalition succeeded in overthrowing the government, Mahathir said the coalition had not yet decided.
He said he would not be the premier again but he could give advice to a future prime minister on solving the country’s financial problems and other things, as he has had experience as leader of the country.
To a question from a viewer on how he stays healthy although he is now 92 years old, Mahathir said he had a moderate lifestyle. “I eat everything except fish but no drinking or smoking.”