In the past, Dr Mahathir Mohamad was often accused of being a racist, but now he claims that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has become one as well.
“He is dividing the Muslims from the Muslims and the Muslims from the non-Muslims. At first he didn’t care about the Malays, but now he’s become very racist and even Islamist – that was written in The Economist, not me,” Mahathir said at a press conference in Putrajaya today.
He was responding to a statement on Najib’s blog last Friday, which accused a “retired leader” of dividing the Muslims.
It is not clear which Economist article Mahathir was referring to, but an April 2015 report by the business magazine said the government was encouraging PAS to implement hudud, thus “fanning racial and religious divisions.”
Meanwhile on a related matter, Mahathir said the next elections would be a racially charged one due to the “gerrymandering” of electoral boundaries.
The Election Commission has denied these allegations.
Asked whether there was gerrymandering under his premiership, Mahathir replied that electoral boundaries were drawn up for greater rural representation.
“In my time, I must admit we gave weightage to rural areas. The rural areas were badly represented.
“We had to balance between influence of rural and urban areas,” he said.
On Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s (Bersatu) readyness to face the next elections, Mahathir said: “It is not Bersatu alone, we will be working together with other parties who feel that the present government must be replaced.”
Mahathir however said that he would not contest in the next polls.
“I’m old you know, ma.. ma..” he said, faking a stutter.
“Najib says I’m old. He never calls me Tun or Dr M. He calls me that old man,” he added.