KUALA LUMPUR: Despite having thrown his support behind Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in the past, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) claims he “cannot accept” what the Prime Minister has done with regard to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
He said this in a question-and-answer session after his address, titled “Leadership in the Final Push Towards Vision 2020”, during the Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia (FCCM) dinner at Istana Hotel here on Monday.
“I worked hard to make Najib Prime Minister. I wrote letters to Abdullah. I expected that when he took over, he would perform like his father at least, because his father was a great man. But I found that he was doing funny things,” he said.
The former premier added that he had studied 1MDB very carefully before questioning Najib on the subject, but found the Prime Minister’s answers unsatisfactory.
“He said, we bought the power plant. When the price goes up, we sell it. Well, the Government is not in the business of buying and selling companies. The Government is in the business of collecting taxes,” said Dr Mahathir.
He said it was “unacceptable that” huge sums of money – which were borrowed with a Government guarantee – could not be accounted for, and questioned what else Najib bought and earned with the US$42bil, which is allegedly unaccounted for.
Dr Mahathir added that whether it was “Jho High or Jhow Low” who was responsible, the entire issue was full of errors, as the people in charge must know where the money went, even if investments incurred losses.
“It is wrong. If you use Government money, you must be able to account for every single cent.
“Though I supported Najib strongly before, what he has done with IMDB, I cannot accept. It is irresponsible – it may even become criminal,” he warned.
As to whether he had more confidence in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) or the Auditor-General in their investigations into the matter, Dr Mahathir said he would place his faith in the PAC.
“Auditors just inspect books, they don’t do what is called forensic auditing. They don’t poke and try and find out where is this money spent, and how. They only inspect books,” he said, stating that those who kept the account books might be “very clever people”.
As for the PAC, it can probe into the background of what happened, he said.
“They can ask the Prime Minister – what has happened to this money? Where is this money? How did you borrow at such a high interest rate? Just imagine – you only get 90% of the money you borrow at a very high interest rate. That is very stupid,” he added.
Asked whom he preferred of his successors, Dr Mahathir said he did not make comparisons between Najib and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
“Najib is not anywhere near his father – his father was a great man. But Abdullah has practically no idea. He falls asleep. It’s not his fault, it’s a disease. Narcolepsy. He falls asleep even when talking to other people. Not a good qualification for a Prime Minister.
“But Najib has done something gravely wrong,” he concluded.