“I had urged Pak Lah to choose Najib. I wrote to him and made many speeches. In the end Najib became the Prime Minister,” Dr Mahathir told about 1,000 people attending the People’s Congress here today.
He said he was confident with his decision to choose Najib as he was the son of Tun Abdul Razak Hussein (Malaysia’s second prime minister).
“I became the prime minister because of Razak. I felt obliged. I never expected to be picked by Razak ,” he said.
He recounted that when he finally decided to retire in 2003, he wanted to appoint Najib as his successor but Najib was still young.
“So I decided to pick Pak Lah for a term. But Pak Lah won with a big majority. He decided to stay on. But then he did badly in 2008,” Dr Mahathir said.
“Finally, when Najib became the Prime Minister succeeding Abdullah, I was so happy. My wife was happy too. He is after all the son of Razak. But unfortunately there is a lot of difference between him and his father.”
Dr Mahathir then recounted how Najib snubbed him after taking over in 2009 and how the two fell out over disagreements on certain projects and relations with Singapore.
Najib did not keep in touch with him for six months after taking over, Dr Mahathir said. “Then one day he invited me for dinner. I brought my wife because Rosmah was there”, referring to the PM’s wife Rosmah Mansor.
“I asked him why he failed to do a few things. One of the matters discussed was the crooked bridge from Johor to Singapore. He answered that there was an agreement. That is a lie. I have been the prime minister for 22 years. I know all the agreements. He did not speak to me after that.”
Dr Mahathir said he was not upset with Najib for failing to build the crooked bridge but because he allowed Singapore to dictate terms. “It is not in their territory. That is why it is crooked. But he went to ask for Singapore’s permission. Why? I was disappointed. Why was he bowing to Singapore? We are an independent country.”
He said Malaysia now wanted to build a High Speed Rail from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore “but Singapore says cannot”
He asked: “Are we under Singapore? That is what disappoints me.”
Dr Mahathir said he told Najib that if he garnered less seats than Abdullah (in the 2013 General Election) he should resign.
“He didn’t. But I continued to support him. But then he used money to garner the people’s support. He used BR1M. He wants to be popular, using government money.
“The Rakyat wants to work, not to be beggars. They want work. Graduates are jobless,” added Mahathir.
He said there was corruption, especially after the scandal in the government investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd.
There was no way he would support a corrupt leader, Dr Mahathir said.
And this, coming from someone whom the world once suspect, is the source of all Malaysian corruption.