KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak broke his silence on Sunday after weeks of calls from long-time leader Mahathir Mohamad for his resignation over corruption and mismanagement allegations.
The influential Mahathir, 89, has criticized Najib for his management of the economy and scandals arising from the debt-laden state fund 1MDB and the high-profile murder of a Mongolian model nine years ago.
The prime minister has been weakened by the attacks of his predecessor, but still retains support within the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
In his first detailed response to these attacks, Najib said that he had nothing to do with the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu, and had even sworn an oath to that effect on the Koran in a mosque.
“This case has been investigated, tried and concluded in the Federal Court. It is a nine year-old case without end as it continues to be ‘recycled’ by the opposition,” he said in a post on his blog.
Altantuya was murdered in 2006 and two officers, part of Najib’s personal security detail at the time, were found guilty.
“We all know that if veteran leaders insist on bringing it up, even in passing, it would automatically cause the issue to be resurrected once again,” he said, avoiding mentioning Mahathir by name.
Mahathir, Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister, withdrew his support for Najib last year after the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition fell short of a popular majority in the 2013 elections but retained power.
Najib, now in his second term as prime minister, has also been under pressure over his management of the economy and a number of scandals related to the debt-laden state fund 1MDB.
1MDB, whose advisory board is chaired by Najib, is facing criticism over its debt of nearly 42 billion ringgit ($11.5 billion) and alleged financial mismanagement.
Najib ordered an official enquiry into the accounts of the fund earlier this year. “Anyone found guilty of embezzlement or misappropriation will be brought to justice,” he said in the blog post.
He also responded to Mahathir’s statement that the ruling party risks losing the next election, due by 2018, if Najib remains its leader.
“If we are united, and stop the infighting, we will succeed. If we focus on constructive rather than destructive politics, we will succeed,” said Najib.
Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Tom Heneghan