Umno heads attack former Malaysian PM Mahathir’s legacy

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Umno criticises Pakatan Harapn for making unrealistic promises

Umno's longest serving president Mahathir Mohamad became the centre of attention at the party's annual assembly yesterday, as leaders lined up to dismantle "misplaced nostalgia" about him.

They said the opposition alliance now led by the former premier offers false hope, and would endanger the political primacy of Malaysia's Malay-Muslim majority if it governed the country.

Dr Mahathir, 92, left the party in 2016 to form Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), a member of the four-party opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan.

In their policy speeches yesterday, leaders of the party's Youth, Women and Puteri (young women) wings criticised Pakatan Harapan for making unrealistic promises, undermining Malay interests and hypocrisy in addressing corruption.

"I cannot accept... the myth that in his time everything was perfect but now things are terrible," Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said.

"The misplaced nostalgia we've been feeding ourselves is as if we dated Miss Universe."

Dismantling the deep imprint left by Dr Mahathir in the party and country is important for Umno as he still has pockets of support among Malays, who respect him as an elderly statesman who developed the country.

One method that Umno is employing to weaken his legacy is by attacking his record as prime minister, and another by belittling his year-old alliance with the other opposition leaders who were his staunch political enemies for decades.

Attacking Dr Mahathir's party PPBM, Puteri chief Mas Ermieyati called it "unstructured, messy and divided" following the resignation of several leaders and members. She said the small opposition party had yet to conduct an annual general meeting though it was formed a year ago.

"If something as basic as this can be an obstacle, how can they lead Pakatan Harapan?" she said.

Mr Khairy reminded youth delegates how Dr Mahathir, facilitated by Anwar Ibrahim - the jailed opposition leader and who was finance minister during the latter Mahathir era - signed off on power generation and highway deals that enriched "a small group of rich businessmen".

"We still have to bear these lopsided agreements that we're still trying to solve until today," the Youth and Sports Minister said.

Mr Khairy alleged that billions of dollars were spent to bail out failed companies, were lost to scandals such as the central bank foreign exchange losses and overpayment for projects such as the Port Klang Free Zone project.

Mr Khairy listed other corruption allegations linked to opposition politicians and exorbitant consultancy fees allegedly paid for a project in Penang.