Dr M: Najib okay with bribery
Former M'sian PM Mahathir Mohamad claims his former protege told him 'cash is king'
Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad has described the man he groomed and endorsed for the top post, Prime Minister Najib Razak, as the most corrupt leader of the nation.
In a one-hour interview with UK's The Guardian, Dr Mahathir, 90, said that Mr Najib had been struggling to fund cash handouts for support.
This is in patronage to politicians as well as an overt programme of cash payments to low-income homes, he said.
"That is not the way to win support, that is bribery. When you need money, you have to find money. You don't have all that kind of money," said Dr Mahathir.
"So how do you raise money? That is the beginning of corruption. 1MDB was created so they can borrow huge sums of money."
He said that Mr Najib needed a lot of money as he gave out money by the millions, according to his own supporters.
"That is corruption. If you want to be popular, do a good job, you will be popular. But to buy people, it's something morally degrading," he said.
The statesman, who led Malaysia for 22 years, has called on Mr Najib to step down following allegations of corruption and mismanagement at state-owned fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Investigators looking into alleged wrongdoing at 1MDB had traced a payment of nearly US$700 million (S$976m) going into Mr Najib's personal bank accounts, Reuters reported.
Mr Najib had denied taking any money for personal gain.
In the interview, Dr Mahathir also said that Mr Najib had confided to him months ago that "cash is king" during a terse meeting in which Dr Mahathir told him that he had lost his support.
"What he is telling me is that bribery is okay. If you bribe with a few dollars, I suppose it doesn't work. But if you give to a person who has never seen a million ringgit, he will turn around," he alleged.
Dr Mahathir added that he had doubts that the cash was a donation as he had never been able to acquire funds from Arab donors during his tenure.
"He said he got the money from the Arabs. Well, show," he said.
"If it is legitimate, why are you hiding it? Bring the Arab, we'll find out how rich is he, what is his business, before we can believe that he was given 2.6 billion ringgit, US$700m by a donor. How can you believe that?
"I've asked (for) money from the Arabs for some university. I got nothing. I was prime minister."\
He said he got the money from the Arabs. Well, show. Bring the Arab, we'll find out how rich is he, what is his business, before we can believe that he was given 2.6 billion ringgit, US$700m by a donor.
- Dr Mahathir Mohamad (above) on the money allegedly channelled into Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal account