Stop ‘thieves’ from being elected, says former PM Mahathir as he campaigns in Johor
Last month, Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that he would not be travelling to Johor during the campaigning period on doctors’ advice to safeguard his health.
AYER HITAM: Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday (Mar 3) urged Johor voters to reject the previous government and stop it from being elected again if they wanted change.
The Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) chairperson was campaigning in the southern state against the advice of his doctors after being discharged from the National Heart Institute (IJN) last month.
During a press conference at a Felda settlement in Ayer Hitam, he said: “For some time now, we have been seeing crooks and thieves becoming leaders in government parties in Malaysia, including at the central level. In many states, thieves are being elected.”
Dr Mahathir, who will turn 97 in July, said he had travelled to Johor because he was concerned about the state polls.
"It is important that the Johor people reject the previous government. The government which resigned recently failed in their administration of Johor.
"So we need to change the government. Pejuang offers itself. It is a clean party and we have people experienced in administration and well known for their abilities. This is why I am here," he stated.
During the 2018 general election, Dr Mahathir, who was then part of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, had campaigned based on an anti-graft platform. PH managed to claim federal power but the coalition fell apart after 22 months.
Pejuang will be contesting 42 out of the 56 seats in the Johor state election on Mar 12.
On who would be Pejuang’s chief minister candidate, Dr Mahathir said it would depend on the result of the election.
"If we give a name and they lose, they can't become the chief minister. We have several candidates who are capable of becoming chief minister," he said, adding that victory for the party was more important than for any individual.
He claimed that many people including non-Malays knew the party and supported it. He added that Pejuang was aiming to win enough seats to form a government.
The Johor state assembly was dissolved by Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar on Jan 22 following his consent for the dissolution after meeting with Mr Hasni Mohammad, the incumbent chief minister.
A total of 239 candidates will contest the elections, which see multi-cornered fights in every seat.
Earlier on Thursday when Dr Mahathir was having lunch with the Chinese community, he said: "I am grateful that I can be here. There was a time I thought I was done, that I wouldn't live anymore.
"But I don't know how those smart doctors managed to heal me and now I get to visit you all here.”
During the lunch, the veteran politician said that Johor would be the example for other Malaysians to follow in the 15th general elections if Barisan Nasional was defeated during the state polls.
“If we elect the same old government, change won’t happen. But if we change the government, Johor will be the example for all of Malaysia," he said.
Dr Mahathir also told the lunch crowd that although Pejuang is a Malay based party, it would fight for the rights of all people regardless of ethnicity.
On Jan 22, local media reported that journalists had descended on the IJN as news spread that Dr Mahathir had been admitted to the hospital’s coronary care unit (CCU).
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob also visited the IJN where he met with Dr Mahathir's wife, Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali.
A day later, Dr Mahathir’s daughter Marina confirmed that her father was still receiving treatment, but she added that the 96-year-old politician had "interacted with" family members.
Dr Mahathir was later discharged on Feb 5.
On Feb 23, he said that he will not be travelling to Johor during the campaigning period on doctors’ advice to safeguard his health. He said it was due to fears that he could be infected with COVID-19.
Malaysia is reporting a high number of COVID-19 cases amid the spread of the Omicron variant, with daily caseload hitting more than 20,000.
Malaysia has reported more than 3.47 million cases since the pandemic, with almost 33,000 deaths.