War of words between Najib & Mahathir this GE14
Politicians will say anything they can to get that vote from you.
Malaysia is experiencing a hotly-contested general elections set to be settled this Wednesday, May 9.
Malaysia’s longest-serving premier, Mahathir Mohamad, is back and leading Pakatan Harapan (PH), the main opposition alliance.
His presence alone is enough to pose the biggest challenge to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in 60 years and proving to be a high-stakes face-off for incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak.
While Najib cannot afford to lose the election for obvious reasons, this might also be Mahathir’s last shot at bringing his former protégé down.
Here are some of the things both politicians have said lately to deny the other’s political legacy, and to sway voters towards themselves.
Dissing Mahathir for his Grab remark
Mahathir made a ‘Grab’ remark on Saturday (April 28) during a dialogue session with Langkawi tourist drivers.
This is what he said (translation via The Star):
“The problem with the Grab (services) is not just in Langkawi but the whole of Malaysia.
“Grab has caused losses for taxi drivers.
But, this will be further studied so that taxi services will be fair to all parties.
“This is what we will do when we take over the government.”
In response, Najib said in a Facebook post on Monday (Apr 31) that Mahathir has chosen to disregard the interests of the people in favour of getting support from taxi drivers and car rentals in Malaysia.
“In his attempt to gain support from taxi drivers, Mahathir has pledged to review e-hailing services such as Grab if Harapan wins the General Election, completely disregarding the benefits of e-hailing for the people.
This is yet another evidence of how this nonagenarian refuses to adapt to the times or understand how technological advances benefit Malaysians.”
He also took the chance to cite the various initiatives the government has to help taxi drivers, adding that they will incorporate the benefits of e-hailing services for the people as well.
Taking a jibe at the opposition
Talking to early voters — civil servants who have to work on polling day — who casted their ballots on Saturday, May 5, Najib took a jibe at the opposition.
According to Malaysiakini, he claimed that the opposition, other than “belittling the functions and responsibilities of civil servants”, also “plans to reduce the number of civil servants”.
“This party and elected representatives must be rejected.
The fact is, ‘Harapan’ is actually with BN.”
Regretted pushing Najib to power
At a campaigning rally in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (May 1), Mahathir apologised to the crowd, saying “the biggest mistake” he made in his life is “choosing Najib” to be the prime minister.
According to Channel NewsAsia, he said:
“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to fix this mistake so I am trying my best.”
Back in 2009, Mahathir pushed Najib to power.
This was after he regretted helping his other successor, Abdullah Badawi, become prime minister.
However, the pair fell out later in 2015 over Najib’s 1MDB scandal.
In an interview with AFP published on April 13, he said that while he once believed Najib to be a “nice man”, he now considers him a “monster”.
“I don’t relish the idea of a thief becoming the prime minister of Malaysia.”
In another interview with The Guardian published on May 2, the 92-year-old also insists that it is with “great reluctance” he is running for prime minister again, as he is determined to bring “corrupt” Najib down.
Saying that he and LKY were like “brothers”
In an interview with local Chinese paper Shin Min Daily published on April 30, Mahathir spoke about his relationship with the late MM Lee Kuan Yew, saying they were like “brothers”:
“Between brothers, there will be problems. Sometimes these problems can be solved, sometimes they can’t.
But that does not mean we are enemies… Sometimes, what Singapore wants is different from what we want, and so we ended up butting heads.
I tried to resolve those issues, but I don’t think I was successful when I was in office.”
He also acknowledged that Singapore-Malaysia relations are better when Malaysia was under Abdullah and Najib, but that is only because Malaysia has given in to many of Singapore’s demands.