KUALA LUMPUR: United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and other Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders should have spoken up if they thought there was something wrong with his leadership, former Malaysia prime minister Najib Razak has said in his first media interview since BN’s election defeat.
“No, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve always practised an open style. People were free to voice their comments, even difference of opinion,” Najib told the Malay Mail on Saturday (May 19).
“I’m quite open about it, except that I want it to be done in private, because we should not attack each other as members of the government.”
Khairy, the former youth and sports minister, said in an interview with Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday that UMNO became “delusional” and “got drunk on our own Kool-Aid”.
UMNO leads the BN coalition which lost power for the first time in six decades in May 9 polls won by a Dr Mahathir Mohamad-led Pakatan Harapan (PH). BN’s loss was unexpected, with mainstream analysts predicting that the status quo would be maintained. Najib has since resigned as president of UMNO.
Najib now faces an investigation into the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund and Malaysia has been transfixed by raids on his family’s homes and his offices in which boxes of luxury goods and cash have been carted away by authorities. He and his wife were also barred from leaving Malaysia.
Najib said that Khairy did not raise any issues with him before the election.
“So Khairy is free to come and see me and say: ‘Look sir. I think you are not on the right track, or there is some problem, you know, which were not resolved in a proper way.’ Then I could then decide, whether to accept or not to accept,” he told the Malay Mail.
“He didn’t do that. I mean, he admitted that he didn’t do that.”
Khairy also said in the interview: “We didn’t want to bell the cat. Nobody, after Muhyiddin was purged, after Shafie was purged … Nobody wanted to acknowledge we have a problem. That was a terrible mistake on our part.”
He was referring to former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin and former Umno vice-president Shafie Apdal.
Muhyiddin and Shafie were both dismissed from their ministerial positions after publicly criticising Najib’s handling of the 1MDB scandal.
Muhyiddin subsequently formed Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia with now Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, while Shafie formed Parti Warisan Sabah to contest in the 14th general election in concert with PH.
But Najib, 64, said UMNO members needed to follow the party line only “for discipline’s sake”.
“Because if you attack the leadership openly, that’s against party discipline. But if you come and say: ‘Sir, I disagree with you. I think you should do it this way.’ That is not against party discipline,” Malay Mail quoted him as saying.
Najib has also reportedly asked to be put under witness protection.
He lodged a police report on Friday which said that there was a clear threat on his life and his family members and made a formal request for protection, Malay Mail said.
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