Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has renewed his call for current leader Najib Razak to resign, describing the embattled premier as detrimental to the country's image.
"Malaysia must be freed from a prime minister with such a bad reputation if it is to regain its reputation," the one-time mentor of Razak said in a blog post Friday.
Mohamad, the country's longest serving premier of 23 years, said Malaysia had once been admired for its transformation from an "impoverished third world country" into a "stable industrialized economy".
He lamented its current state, saying the country had become a target of negative judgments by foreigners commenting on debt-ridden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and the country's corruption level.
"Many too, comment on the lavish lifestyle of the prime minister,” he added.
“They ask these questions because reputable foreign newspapers publish stories about 1MDB, about the prime minister having appropriated to himself billions of dollars, about huge amounts of money in his private accounts, about his lavish lifestyle."
Referring to the decision by the Attorney General’s office last week to clear Razak of charges over a $681 million political donation found in his accounts, Mohamad said the development “means nothing” as its chief -- Apandi Ali -- “has no credibility”.
"To clear Malaysia’s good name and his own, Najib must prove beyond a shadow of doubt that he is innocent of all the accusations against him,” he stressed.
“Failing this Najib should resign. All those knowing the truth but still backing him up should also resign."
On Jan. 26, Ali announced that Razak had not committed any crime in relation to the political donation from the Saudi royal family and a further 42 million Ringgit (nearly $10 million) deposited in his accounts from the finance ministry’s SRC International Sdn Bhd.
He ordered the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to close the two ongoing probes on Razak.
Mohamad has been leading calls for Razak's resignation over alleged mismanagement and corruption at 1MDB, which had amassed 42 billion Ringgit ($11.6 billion) in debt in just six years of operations.
During a huge anti-government rally in September, he had referred to Razak as a "corrupt leader", said the people did not want him, and claimed the ruling party's top leaders were all paid to be loyal to him.