Umno needs to transform to criticise its leaders, says Dr M

I’m not bothered if my remarks ruffle others, says Dr Mahathir

Umno needs transformation to be brave enough to criticise its leaders, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The vocal statesman said that currently, the Malay party has the culture of blindly supporting its leaders without asking any questions.

"Yes, because the leader must be told about other views. A leader cannot just do whatever he likes," he said in Putrajaya today.

He was responding to a blog posting by former journalist Datuk A. Kadir Jasin who said that while Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak was strong, the party he helmed was weak, and as such, no attempts would be made to oust the prime minister.

Malaysia's longest serving prime minister recently said he was withdrawing his support for Najib as his criticism had fallen on deaf ears.

“I have tried to give my views to him directly, which are also the views of many people who have met me," wrote Dr Mahathir on his popular blog,

"I have no choice but to withdraw my support. This has not been effective so I have to criticise," he said, adding that Najib was no better than Abdullah.

However, Dr Mahathir said his criticism against Najib was not personal and although he did not want the prime minister to resign, he was unhappy with Najib's policies and his soft approaches which he said did not bring any benefit to the country.

Although Najib's cabinet colleagues defended his administration, his party colleagues have been cautious in their reaction to Dr Mahathir's strong and open criticism.

Although Najib refused to be drawn to Dr Mahathir's remarks which he had described as an internal Umno matter, the party's powerful supreme council had apparently told Najib he needed to show some toughness since the government had been viewed as soft since GE13.

Analysts said that Dr Mahathir's continued attacks on Najib would not succeed in bringing him down, partly because there was no one suitable or willing to take over the nation's top job.

News portal Malaysiakini quoted Dr Mahathir as confirming reports that he had written a letter to Najib stating his intention to withdraw his support, although he was asked by an intermediary to retract it.

“I just said I would withdraw. I didn’t receive any reason (for the request), since he asked me to withdraw.

“Later on, I decided that the letter has got no effect on him, so that is when I put it on my blog. I said that leaders must accept criticism,” he was quoted as saying.

Asia Sentinel had reported the intermediary to be Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor but this was denied by him.

Dr Mahathir said a leader should listen to all the views around him, instead of just a select few. ‎"I think a leader must listen to everybody, not just somebody around me," he said.

On the acquisition of independent power producers by sovereign fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) which he had criticised in the past, the former prime minister said he was critical of it as it involved public funds.

“This is public money. Although it is borrowed money, it belongs to the government, and government spending must follow certain procedures.

"You cannot just spend money as you like,” he was quoted as saying. – September 29, 2014.