FORMER Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has thrown down the gauntlet.
United by their mutual goal to remove incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak from office, he assembled an odd group comprising of 58 political allies and rivals today to sign a declaration.
Calling it “the people’s declaration”, Mahathir said they had gathered as individual Malaysians concerned with the country’s current state of affairs.
“We are not here as representatives of any party, NGO or group,” he said.
Among those in attendance were former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Selangor state chief minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, DAP parliamentary chief Lim Kit Siang, former Bersih co-chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan, and Bersih chairman Maria Chin Abdullah.
At the gathering, Mahathir read out the terms of the declaration, which highlighted various offenses committed by the Najib administration, including the highly-controversial 1MDB scandal, which “caused damage to the nation” and led to Malaysia being listed as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
The group’s main demands were:
- The removal of Najib as prime minister through non-violent and legally permissible means;
- The removal of those who have acted in concert with him, and those who “covered up his misdeeds”;
- The repeal of laws which violate the federal constitution; and
- The restoration of the integrity of undermined institutions such as the police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the Central Bank and the Public Accounts Committee.
The signing was followed by a press conference, where Mahathir said, “We are moving against Najib because he has debilitated our country’s ruling system for his own gains.”
The group is also pushing for institutional reforms, such as free and fair elections, as well as freedom of the press.
Even Mahathir’s toughest adversary, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim – currently in jail serving a five-year sentence for a sodomy conviction – has expressed his support of Mahathir in his battle against Najib, despite having accused Mahathir of trumping up the charges which had landed him in prison.