Muhyiddin Yassin is a dictator for declaring an emergency to remain in power, said Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The former prime minister said his successor is desperate to cling on to power that he had to resort to an emergency to fight the Covid-19 pandemic despite already implementing a movement-control order (MCO).
“We are sacrificing democracy to give him (Muhyiddin) full power to do what he likes. He is in that sense a dictator.
“It is a kind of dictatorship where people cannot protest and we are doing away with democracy completely by using an emergency to give Muhyiddin full power,” Dr Mahathir told radio station BFM this morning.
Host Noelle Lim countered by saying the nonagenarian has himself been labelled with the term countless times.
“I find it a bit rich that you call Muhyiddin a dictator, you have a reputation of being one yourself too; Operasi Lalang and ISA (Internal Security Act) come to mind,” Lim rebutted Dr Mahathir.
In response, Dr Mahathir said: “A dictator rules by decree. Whether it is right or wrong, we wouldn’t know, we are no longer democratic, so we are sacrificing democracy in order to give him full power to do what he likes.
“For example, my party (Parti Pejuang Tanah Air) will not be registered, and you cannot question it because there is no way we can appeal, so he is in that sense a dictator,” Dr Mahathir added.
The Pejuang chairman said there is no need to declare an emergency as Malaysia has enough laws to deal with the pandemic and things are not unruly as in some other countries.
“The government has enough power to deal with Covid-19, we are not like other counties where people are protesting against the government instructions. In Malaysia, no, anything that the government says we do,” Dr Mahathir said.
The Langkawi MP said despite the absolute power, Muhyiddin is not doing enough to help the people survive the pandemic.
“He is not doing much in terms of running the country. The economy is going down, and people are suffering from the action that has been taken. The MCO means a lot of people have no income and a lot of people have no food,” he said.
The 96-year-old said if he were in a position of power, he would have instead increased the allocations to combat the pandemic, including building new hospitals as the healthcare system is already overstretched.
“The allocation for dealing with Covid-19 was very small. We need to have more allocations. We need to have more hospitals. The hospitals are already full. In England, a hospital was built in only nine days,” Dr Mahathir said.
Dr Mahathir also took a swipe at Muhyiddin, saying his performance so far as prime minister has been subpar with the economy not showing any signs of improving.
In a surprising response to the last question in the interview, Dr Mahathir said he doesn’t care about leaving behind a legacy.
“I don’t care about my legacy, I am quite sure when I am dead and gone, people will still run me down.
“And all that will not seem important, I’ll be dead, anyway. What legacy?” he quipped.