Dr M And Najib Have An Unprecedented Public Spat On Facebook

The two former prime ministers became keyboard warriors.

Cover image via Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini & Najib Razak/Facebook via Malay Mail

Politicians of two opposing sides engage in disputes all the time, whether it is through the democratic process in Parliament or through the media via press conferences or official statements

What is unprecedented this time in Malaysia's political scene is that two former prime ministers engaged in a dispute not through the usual methods, but through a Facebook post and its comment feature.

In a post published at 6.03pm yesterday, 23 June, former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wrote a 10-point statement, accusing Datuk Seri Najib Razak of stealing millions of ringgit from 1MDB.

"I still maintain that it was a sweetheart deal where you steal USD248 million (RM1 billion) from 1MDB money and you give back USD107.3 million (RM458 million) and keep over USD140 million (RM598 million) to enjoy," the 94-year-old wrote in the post, which he titled 'Stealing Chickens'. 

"It is like stealing 10 chickens. You should give back all the 10. If you had a feast of nine chickens or you sold them to someone, it does not matter. The 10 chickens must be returned to the owner."

Dr Mahathir also took the opportunity to refute Najib's earlier claims that he made his children rich by awarding government contracts to them when he was serving as the 4th prime minister.

In a fearless fashion, Najib took Dr Mahathir's words head-on this time by replying directly to his post in the comment section

The Pekan MP responded in a series of comments with over 1,600 words.

Najib's response was so long that it forced him to break up his rebuttals into smaller chunks in order to fit into the Facebook 8,000-character limit per comment.

Image via ETtoday

In them, Najib refuted Dr Mahathir's 10-point claims one by one, especially with regards to providing proof that the nonagenarian awarded "sweetheart deals" to Dr Mahathir's children and cronies.

Citing various articles from The Wall Street Journal, The Edge Markets, and even through a purported Ministry of Finance letter dated 7 October 2003, Najib contended that Dr Mahathir had used his power as the fourth prime minister as well as the finance minister at the time to give Mirzan and Mokhzani Mahathir attractive business deals.

Business tycoon Vincent Tan was also mentioned various times in Najib's comments, claiming that Tan was one of Dr Mahathir's cronies too.

It is clear that Najib did not hold back, saying in jest in a follow-up Facebook status, "Anwar, I helped you to entertain PM7 (Dr Mahathir) this week. Don't forget to treat me to a meal next time, okay?"

After commenting on Dr Mahathir's post, Najib took a screenshot of his response and posted it on his own Facebook page

"I have replied in his comment section. Let's see if he would delete my comment," Najib said.

It looks like Najib's prediction has come true. At the time of writing, Najib's comments are nowhere to be found on Dr Mahathir's post.

SAYS sighted many netizens had replicated Najib's response in the comment section, but after refreshing on the post, all of the replicated comments vanished as well.

Netizens started accusing Dr Mahathir or his page admins of actively deleting Najib's statement from his post. It is believed that the admins were working until late at night to constantly remove unfavourable comments.

Many comments left by Najib's supporters can no longer be found.

"Does this page has 15 administrators? Fuh," one Facebook user asked, while another added, "I guess the admins don't have to sleep. If they don't sleep, I am lazy to comment because it will get deleted anyway."

Image via Facebook

When Najib realised his comments had been deleted, of course, he took the chance to take a jab at his one-time ally and predecessor

This morning, 24 June, he shared a New Malaysia Times article on his Facebook, titled "Tun Mahathir's FB page admin curtails freedom of speech, deletes, and bans netizens' comments".

Najib quipped that the editor-in-chief of the portal seemed unhappy after their comment was blocked by Dr Mahathir last night.

The portal is self-described as a "blog news impose expose" on Google.

You can read Dr Mahathir's post here, and Najib's response here.

Previously, Najib's defence lawyer claimed that police destroyed handbags belonging to Rosmah:

Read more related stories about the 1MDB case here: