PETALING JAYA: The ouster of Mukhriz Mahathir as Kedah Menteri Besar has been described by the Financial Times as a move by Prime Minister Najib Razak to tighten his grip on his party Umno, of which he is president.

It noted that Mukhriz stepped down yesterday after losing support of his party’s state assemblymen but added, “Analysts see Mr Mukhriz’s removal as another sign of Mr Najib’s political strength, despite the efforts of a clutch of senior figures and Opposition parties to unseat him.”

Among this “clutch of senior figures” is former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has been supported by his son Mukhriz.

Speaking to James Chin, director of the Asia Institute at the University of Tasmania, the Financial Times quoted him as saying the doing away of Mukhriz was an act of revenge by Najib after having suffered endless attacks by the duo.

“It’s revenge for Mahathir Mohamad going against Najib,” Chin said, noting however that Mukhriz had been cited as having performed unsatisfactorily as menteri besar of Kedah.

While the former prime minister has launched scathing attacks on Najib for having received RM2.6 billion in his personal bank accounts, the Financial Times said many observers were also of the opinion that Mahathir was a “problematic leader” himself, having allowed cronyism to “flourish” while he governed the country from 1981 to 2003.

The article also said that Najib’s supporters believed Mahathir’s manoeuvres to de-seat their PM stemmed more from a “power play” rather than outrage over the RM2.6 billion donation or alleged misappropriation of funds at 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

“Mr Najib’s government has secured his position over the past six months by detaining critics or banning them from travel, removing people involved in the corruption claim investigations from their posts, and shoring up support from Umno’s powerful regional chiefs,” the Financial Times said, adding however that international investigators including the Swiss Attorney-General, who has found “serious indications” of misappropriation of USD4 billion from Malaysian state companies, are throwing a spanner into the works.

Source from FMT NEWS

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