Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) will not work with Umno even if the party is “cleansed”, said Dr Mahathir Mohamad in responding to Najib Razak’s final appeal against his conviction in the SRC International case.
The Pejuang chairman said Najib, who was the sixth prime minister, had “completely ruined” Umno by prioritising rewards.
“Najib has successfully ruined Umno in its entirety – from the top man to the grassroots. Everything is dirty now,” he told reporters at a press conference in Putrajaya.
Mahathir also claimed that when Pejuang members were campaigning during the Johor state election in March, voters were asking for “rewards” in exchange for their votes.
“During the Johor state election, the Pejuang members called their friends to vote for the party. The answer we got: How much will you give?
“So, Umno has succeeded …Najib has succeeded in ruining the morale of the Malays to the point that they have to be rewarded in exchange for votes,” he said.
Mahathir was responding to a question about whether he and GTA would work with Umno if the party was cleansed of “thieves”, a term the two-time former prime minister often uses against Najib and Umno leaders.
Responding to claims that the movement would only further split Malay votes in the upcoming general election (GE15), the Langkawi MP denied the accusation, insisting that the coalition was formed to avoid clashes among Malay candidates.
“We have managed to merge Malay political parties that usually fight each other,” he said.
He said GTA would send its application for registration as a political coalition to the Registrar of Societies next week.
“We will submit an application next week after our logo and flag are finalised,” he said, adding that the four parties in GTA would compete under one emblem.
Mahathir said he was confident in the movement’s ability to contest for 120 parliamentary seats and 280 state seats in the peninsula in GE15.
Meanwhile, he took a dig at Najib, calling the latter a privileged convict on the loose because of Malaysia’s judicial system.
He said Malaysians have become a laughing stock to many for giving a convict “royal treatment”.
”Even four years after he (Najib) was charged in court, he is still free,” Mahathir said.
“The world is laughing at us seeing how a prisoner gets such a privileged treatment.
“The whole world knows (he is guilty). The United States has found him guilty but in Malaysia he dresses smartly, goes to parliament and tells the government what to do, how to do and ‘how to steal money’.
“This (Najib) is the adviser to the government,” Mahathir added.
Comparing Malaysia’s judicial systems with that of other countries, Mahathir said Najib is lucky to be still free because the country takes after the British judicial system.
“If in France, a person is considered guilty until they prove to the court that they are not guilty. The system says you are guilty until proven innocent.
“This British system (which we follow in Malaysia), says you are innocent until proven guilty.
“In other countries, even if you appeal when proven guilty, you still have to go to prison and wait until the court finds you not guilty.
“But in Malaysia, even when he (Najib) is appealing, it seems as though he is not guilty,” the nonagenarian said.
Despite Najib’s tactics to delay his proceedings at the Federal Court, Mahathir said that he has faith in the courts.
“What he wants to do is to delay everything so that during the general election, he is still not guilty and still appealing.
“It is up to the court to decide. We place our faiths in the courts of Malaysia,” he said.