Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has admitted that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad supported him many times in his political career, but says that that he too had been supportive of Dr Mahathir when he was facing difficulties.
Najib acknowledged that Dr Mahathir backed him for the deputy prime minister’s position in 2004 and subsequently the prime minister’s position in 2009.
According to him, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin lobbied hard for the position of deputy prime minister in 2004 when Tun Abdullah Badawi was premier.
“Dr Mahathir was insistent on me being the deputy.
“And also when Pak Lah was thought as not able to continue (as prime minister), Dr Mahathir supported me as Pak Lah’s successor.
“If we look from that angle, he contributed to my political career, just like how there were contributions from me and Tun Razak to him. I just never thought that it would come to this stage because our relationship was said to be very good at one time,” said Najib.
Asked if he felt any regret for supporting Dr Mahathir in 1987 when he was the Umno youth chief, he said: “We can’t change something that has already happened.”
Najib said he was of the opinion that Dr Mahathir only liked people who listened to him, and in that regard, maybe he was considered “stubborn” or it’s just that he had his own stand on things.
“As a Prime minister, I had to do what I though was best for the people and the party. I listen to the opinions of the party, cabinet.
(“It was) Not just me making the decisions,” he said.
Najib added that there could have been two things that made Dr Mahathir uncomfortable with him – the “crooked” bridge between Johor and Singapore, and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir’s loss in the race for the Umno vice presidency in 2013.
During the interview, Najib also said as a leader he wanted a society that was fair and equal.
“I don’t want the rich to become even richer and the poor to become poorer, or else nothing changes for them. There would be social malfunctions that would have political implications.
“As a leader, I had to defend the vulnerable,” he said.
He said the GST implemented during his administration was one example of where he taxed the rich to distrbute to the people.