World

Upcoming fight is 'father of all elections', says Najib

M'sian PM preps Umno for 'father of all elections'

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday rallied Umno troops to prepare for the "father of all elections" against former premier Mahathir Mohamad's opposition pact, warning that the country's pro-Malay and Islamic policies would be in tatters if his ruling party is ousted at an election due by August.

"If the nation falls to the wrong and irresponsible party, everything that we and our fathers have built tirelessly will crash and be destroyed before our own eyes," the Umno president said in his policy address.

Sticking to a well-worn line that the Chinese-led Democratic Action Party (DAP) wants to wipe out Malay and Islamic rights, Mr Najib spoke about protecting the special position of Malays.

He accused Dr Mahathir of claiming to "fight for Malays and Islam, but he is allied to and is being used by DAP, which is clearly anti-Malay and Islam".

Mr Najib said "this noble and free race (the Malays) will have their dignity crushed, and lose their primacy" if the opposition took power, or "worse, they will be cast aside, disgraced and left destitute in their own land".

The general election is due by August next year, but is expected to be called within months. For the first time, the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) ruling coalition will be against an opposition headed by a former prime minister and former deputy prime ministers Anwar Ibrahim and Muhyiddin Yassin.

Mr Najib scoffed at the relevance of Dr Mahathir, 92, likening him to former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, 93, who was ousted from power last month.

He said: "It is strange there are those that are still willing to be led by someone in his twilight years, when former president Mugabe in Zimbabwe who is the same age has been rejected by his people."

The 13-party BN holds a majority in Parliament but lost the popular vote for the first time at the last polls.

However, the opposition has since fractured with Parti Islam Se-Malaysia going its own way and even cooperating with Umno on Islamic issues.

Dr Mahathir, who was in power for 22 years until 2003, spent the past three years criticising the administration and called for Mr Najib to step down over graft allegations.

Dr Mahathir formed Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia last year and joined the Pakatan Harapan alliance. The four-party pact believes his entry will gain support among the Malay Muslim majority.

WORLD