Najib Razak and his corruption tainted government are destroying the country, former Malaysian prime minister and political patriarch Mahathir Mohamad has said.
Mahathir, a former mentor turned outspoken critic of Prime Minister Najib, called for a fresh opposition coalition to overthrow the government that has faced an unprecedented wave of corruption allegations.
"He (Najib) is destroying this country... he is bringing in racism... very, very serious crime has been committed," Mahathir told AFP in an interview.
The 91-year-old leader, who is the longest serving prime minister in Malaysia, repeated his open call for the overthrow of Najib government. He said he is open to stitching together a political partnership with other opposition parties, including the party of his enemy number one Anwar Ibrahim.
"For me overthrowing Najib is far more important than any personal feeling I have about anything else," said, Mahathir, the senior-most leader of the Unmo party. Anwar, who was the deputy prime minister under Mahathir in the United Malays National Organisation government, was sacked and put in jail under charges of sodomy after he fell out with Mahathir. However, Mahathir said he would go any distance in pursuing his objective of toppling Najib.
"If he is not replaced, things will get worse," said Mahathir, who spoke at an anti-government rally in Kuala Lumpur last week. Mahathir said at the rally the country was being controlled by thieves.
Mahathir was an active supporter of the anti-Najib Yellow Shirt demonstration in Kuala Lumpur which called for the resignation of the Najib government.
However, a defiant Najib said street protests cannot unseat him, adding that the move was unconstitutional and similar to the Arab Spring revolution that swept the Middle East earlier this decade.
"We have seen this happening in many countries. Even the so-called Arab Spring was heralded as an era of change, but instead it caused misery to the people in the countries concerned. .. So the best time to decide is when the time comes,' Najib said.
Mahathir also warned that Najib is treading the dangerous path of racism and trying to divide the country on racial and religious lines for winning elections. "He is going to be very Malay and very Islamic. He is moving away from that liberal attitude towards a more rigid and racist approach to the administration of this country ... He wants the election to be between Malays against Chinese or Chinese against Malays."
The Malaysian government has been battling allegations on all fronts after the massive 1MDB scam broke into the open. The prime minister himself was under the scanner after reports emerged that millions of dollars from the state funds might have been diverted into his personal bank accounts. The payments were made from one of several private bank accounts owned by Najib and the funds originated from government investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd, which is under investigation.
Many countries including Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland, UK and the United Arab Emirates are investigating into the money trail linked to the corruption at the Malaysian state investment fund. in July US investigators implicated Najib in the financial fraud.
"All over the country, you ask anyone, you ask a hawker, you ask a taxi driver, you ask anybody, they all don't want Najib," the former prime minister said.