Firing at his predecessor Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister Najib Razak said that he was not a dictator and does not intend to be one. He was speaking at the opening of Tangga Batu Umno division’s assembly in Bandar Hilir, Malacca, 13 August.
Najib said he could “easily be prime minister for more than 22 years” if he had retained an old Umno rule requiring challengers to the president to first obtain 56 nominations from divisions before they could qualify. This is an apparent jab to the senior statesman Mahathir who had ruled Malaysia for two decades from 1981 to 2003.
Najib, who is also Umno president, reportedly pointed out that under his leadership, the amended 2009 Umno constitution was done to empower 100,000 grassroots members to vote in party elections compared to an estimated 2,500 delegates in previous polls.
Najib’s administration has come under increasing domestic pressure to be transparent in the 1MDB dealings. The pressure has compounded further since last July when the US Department of Justice federal filed civil complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with 1MDB.
To this end, Mahathir has been at the forefront in demanding the removal of the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib from the administration due to the fiasco.
On 14 August, it has been reported that Mahathir’s former political secretary Matthias Chang together with a local state assembly person filed another class action suit in the United States against individuals linked to 1MDB.