Mahathir was a cruel PM unlike ‘gentleman Najib’, says Sabah Umno

KOTA KINABALU: A Sabah Umno leader has accused Dr Mahathir Mohamad of throwing caution to the wind with his attacks on Prime Minister Najib Razak by assuming the government would not touch him out of respect for his stature.

State Umno deputy information head Ramlee Marahaban claimed the 92-year-old former prime minister was leveraging on his age to thrash Putrajaya, having exhausted other “tricks in his book” to discredit Najib and his administration.

“He has accused the government of trying to hang on to power with the latest delineation exercise by the Election Commission (EC),” Ramlee told FMT.

“He insinuated that the exercise is a gerrymandering attempt which would benefit Barisan Nasional (BN).

“But EC, which is an independent body, will always conduct this process whenever and wherever it sees fit,” he added, citing population growth as a contributing factor.

Ramlee said Mahathir was the longest-serving prime minister, having ruled for 22 years from 1981.

“Maybe he knows something that we don’t about the delineation process by EC,” he said, adding that there was no proof that the process under the current government was benefiting BN.

Ramlee, who is Sabah assistant finance minister, said he also found it amusing that Mahathir now thought he was fit to expound democracy, claiming that the chairman of PPBM and Pakatan Harapan (PH) was not an exemplary figure for such a cause.

He claimed that Mahathir had during his rule cruelly punished his political opponents and thrown some of them into prison for standing up to him.

Ramlee said it was ironic that the country’s once most powerful man was now sharing the same political stage with the opposition leaders he had tormented for years.

Mahathir quit Umno in February 2016 and formed PPBM in September last year, claiming that he wanted to “save the country” from the Najib-led government.

PPBM then joined Pakatan Harapan (PH), which consists of DAP, PKR and Amanah, in March this year. Mahathir was named the coalition’s chairman on July 13.

Ramlee said in contrast, Najib, who assumed the prime minister’s post in 2009, was a gentleman leader who treated his political rivals with respect.

“When PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim was admitted to hospital, Najib took time to visit him.”

He claimed that this showed Najib was not one who looked upon his political rivals with hatred and vengeance, unlike Mahathir.

Ramlee urged Sabahans not to forget how Mahathir treated them during his time as PM.

“We were powerless to speak against him because he would use the Internal Security Act (ISA) against us.

“Sabah was neglected under his rule. Sure, he gave some funds, but the amount was so pitiful,” he claimed.

“He rarely came to visit us here but Najib has come regularly, not because he thinks we are BN’s fixed deposit but because he understands that he is the PM for all, not just those in the peninsula.” FMT