The war of attrition between Malaysian political patriarch Mahathir Mohamad and Prime Minister Najib Razak took a sinister turn on Thursday with the government refusing to invite the former prime minister to the upcoming inauguration of the new King.
Mahathir's invitation for the December 13 coronation of the new monarch has been withdrawn, an aide to the iconic Umno leader said, Malaysiakini reported. A letter stating the revocation of the invitation, which was earlier issued by the Conference of Rulers, was delivered to Mahathir, the aide said.
According to the letter, the Keeper of the Ruler's Seal says Mahathir will not be provided with any seat at the function and that the letter was intended to spare him any embarrassment should he turn up at the ceremony.
Mahathir hit out against Najib following the revocation of the invitation, saying the government has turned important national events into petty party affairs. "Turns out that a national event is part of a party's politics ... I apologize for making the wrong assumption. I will bear in mind that the national palace belongs to Najib and the Barisan Nasional party," Mahathir said in a Facebook post. Mahathir's daughter Marina published the letter on Facebook as well.
In September, Mahathir had led a delegation to the current king to submit a representation signed by 1.4 million Malaysians calling for expulsion of corruption tainted Najib from office.
Malaysia elected Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan as the next king in October. Malaysia follows a system of elected monarchy although the monarch is only the titular head and the elected prime minister leads the government. Under Malaysia's complex system to elect the monarch, nine regional Sultans have the right to choose the next king.
On Wednesday, Mahathir pilloried Najib saying he is destroying the country with his acts of corruption and nepotism. He also 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 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.