Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today hit out at members of the cabinet for their indifference towards the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
The former prime minister said that it seemed as if the whole Cabinet did not know how to deal with the issue of 1MDB, the state investment vehicle that has racked up RM42 billion in debts since its inception six years ago.
“What is obvious is that the whole Cabinet seems unable to deal with this 1MDB problem. Some don’t understand what is going on, others think that it is none of their business, others think it is safer not to say anything,” he said at a press conference after launching the Indian Advisory Council in Kuala Lumpur today.
“I don’t know what they’re thinking. I have no access to their minds.”
This comes after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak issued an ultimatum to the Cabinet last Friday, telling them to resign if they did not support him over the rehabilitation of the debt-ridden state fund.
Najib was said to have issued the ultimatum soon after Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah finished laying out the road map for 1MDB’s restructuring at the Cabinet meeting.
On the ultimatum, Dr Mahathir, a fierce critic of 1MDB, appeared to agree with Najib’s move, noting that he had also dropped ministers who were not in agreement with him during his tenure as PM.
“As a PM, he (Najib) has a right to give them an ultimatum. During my time, ministers who could not agree with my policy, I dropped them and replaced them. Then when they agreed with me, I took them back.
“I did not punish them. I still accepted them back into Cabinet,” he added.
Najib’s ultimatum followed Barisan Backbenchers Club chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Samad’s statement, urging ministers who did not agree with the collective decision of the Cabinet on 1MDB, to resign.
Shahrir was expressing his agreement with Umno’s Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who said the entire Cabinet was collectively responsible for 1MDB’s controversies which have sapped public confidence of the government’s handling and transparency over the Finance Ministry-owned firm.
Prior to that, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had said Putrajaya must sack the 1MDB board over the RM42 billion debt scandal as it could bring down the government.
He said this was his advice to Najib, adding he was not against the Umno president’s leadership.
“The entire 1MDB board should be sacked and the police should be called in to investigate their involvement in the scandal,” Muhyiddin told an Umno gathering, as seen in a video that went viral.
“I told the PM, sack the 1MDB board. If I owned the company, and the CEO racked up so much of debt, that I had to pay interest between RM100 and RM200 million every month, what else to do? Just sack.”
Dr Mahathir said it was up to the Umno deputy president, who appeared to be in disagreement with the PM over 1MDB, whether he wanted to resign his Cabinet position.
“Maybe he wants to stay inside and act or communicate with the PM,” he added.
On Najib’s “tell all” on 1MDB, planned for this Friday at a forum organised by non-governmental organisation Sukaguam, Dr Mahathir said he would not be attending, denying an earlier report that he had been invited to the event.
“I don’t know. I was not invited,” he said.
SukaGuam chairman Khairul Anwar Rahmat was reported saying that Najib had confirmed his attendance at the two-hour session titled “Nothing to hide” at the Putra World Trade Centre on Friday.
The law-based NGO had reportedly invited Dr Mahathir but the former prime minister, who is also Najib’s chief critic, had yet to confirm his attendance.
Dr Mahathir, who is also a strong critic of the Najib administration, has been unrelenting in his attacks against the prime minister and has repeatedly called for his resignation. – June 3, 2015.