Former Malaysian Premier Mahathir Terminated as Petronas Adviser

  • Mahathir waging campaign to oust Prime Minister Najib Razak
  • Cabinet says Mahathir shouldn't hold govt-linked positions

Malaysia terminated former premier Mahathir Mohamad as an adviser to the nation’s oil company, saying his plan to topple the current administration means he should not be holding any government-related positions.

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s cabinet "unanimously" agreed on Friday to remove Mahathir from his role at Petroliam Nasional Bhd., the government said in a statement. Mahathir led opposition and civil society groups last week in calling for the removal of Najib through non-violent and permissible ways.

Mahathir, 90, has been waging a months-long public campaign to get Najib out, warning the coalition led by Najib’s United Malays National Organisation risks losing office if he stays on. The government said last week his move to align with opposition members with a so-called "Citizens’ Declaration" to oust the prime minister showed the depth of "political opportunism and desperation."

"The declaration aims to topple the democratically-elected government led by the prime minister, and is therefore against the law and the federal constitution," the Prime Minister’s Office said in the Friday statement. "The Cabinet decided that, since Tun Mahathir is no longer supporting the current government, he should no longer hold any position related to the government."

Quitting Party

Mahathir became an adviser to flagship Malaysian companies such as Petronas, as the oil company is known, and national carmaker Proton Holdings Bhd. after stepping down as prime minister in 2003. Proton is now privately-held by DRB-Hicom Bhd.

Mahathir last month said he is quitting the UMNO party he led for more than two decades, saying he doesn’t want to be associated with a party whose leader has been tarnished by political scandals. His aide did not immediately reply to a text message seeking comment.

Malaysia’s attorney general closed the door on a graft probe of Najib in January, clearing him of wrongdoing over a “personal contribution” of $681 million from Saudi Arabia’s royal family, and money from a company linked to a state investment fund that appeared in his personal bank accounts. Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

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