Mar 20, 2009

Tun Mahathir: Zaid’s plea to King on Najib ‘very stupid’

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has rubbished a statement by former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim on the country’s leadership transition.

“Why should the Yang diPertuan Agong listen to the opinion of only one man? And the person who made that suggestion is not even a credible figure,” he said.

“Takkan Yang di-Pertuan Agong mahu dengar cakap katak. (I don’t think the Yang diPertuan Agong would listen to a frog),” he told reporters at his office here, yesterday.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today it is illogical to call on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong not to appoint Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as the prime minister.

Commenting on the call by Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, urging the Yang di-Pertuan Agong not to appoint Najib as the prime minister, Dr Mahathir said, “He can say what he likes but he is just one person.”

“Whether the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will listen to the opinion of one person will be up to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” he said.

He was speaking at a news conference to announce the “Forum and Exhibition on Gaza Genocide: Palestine Solution” here today.

Zaid, the former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, claimed that Najib’s appointment would divide the people.

Dr Mahathir said: “The person who made this suggestion is not someone who is regarded highly or someone who is rational. If I were the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, I wouldn’t even want to read about this. It’s too stupid. Who does he want to be?”

Asked whether he would fully support Najib’s appointment as the prime minister, Dr Mahathir said, “I will give a full backing to Datuk Najib on condition that he must not appoint any of the corrupt leaders to his cabinet.”

He also commented on perception that Najib was corrupt.

“I’m not talking about what people believe. A lot of people believe about something but there is no legal stand taken on whether Najib is corrupt or not.”

Asked on his choice for the Umno deputy president’s post, Dr Mahathir said, it would be Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the International Trade and Industry Minister.

“I think what is left is somebody who is... well, could not read English and therefore he did something wrong in Australia. So my choice is Muhyiddin,” he said.

The contest for the deputy presidency is now between Muhyiddin and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib.

A third candidate, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam was barred from contesting after the party’s disciplinary board found him guilty of breaching party ethics.

Dr Mahathir also commented on the statement by Mohd Ali that he (Dr Mahathir) had a hand in the recent decision taken by the disciplinary board.

Dr Mahathir said: “I wish I had but I’m not a member of Umno. If I had been involved, I would have thrown him out from the very beginning but I’m not involved. I have to very reluctantly wait for the decision by the board and I’m not completely happy with it.”

He said that Mohd Ali should be treated the same way former Umno vice-president Tan Sri Mohamed Isa Abdul Samad was treated in 2005.

“Isa was thrown out because he was involved in money politics but he also lost his position as a minister. But here, we have a very strange decision.

“He was found to be corrupt but he can remain as the Chief Minister (of Melaka). Now we have a person who is confirmed corrupt but the party accepted him as the chief minister.

“If you pass judgment, you must be consistent. It must apply to everybody in the same way and in the same amount.

“You cannot say, well, he killed that person so he should be hanged. And then he killed another person but this other person is not important, so let him go,” he said.

The former Umno president also spoke on the possibility of a “motion of confidence” be tabled in Parliament to have Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi remained as the prime minister.

“It’s a possibility; it’s not against the law. The law provides that to be the prime minister, you must have the support of the majority in Parliament but it does not say from which party.

“According to the constitution, the person who shall be made the prime minister is a person who has the majority support in Parliament. If you appoint somebody who has no majority support, he will be out,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said that there was nothing in the Federal Constitution which stated that the Umno president must be the prime minister.

“There is no provision. That is only our arrangement,” he said, adding that legally, the current prime minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi could continue serving his term until the next general election if he wanted to.

“But of course he may face a vote of no confidence in Parliament... he has a good chance of winning with the support of opposition members but he will become the prime minister of the opposition,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said opposition members also had votes in Parliament and if they, together with some members of the Barisan Nasional, were to vote for Abdullah, “then he will be the PM.” — Bernama

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