Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has taken another swipe at Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has been named Pakatan Harapan's candidate for the prime minister post if the opposition coalition wins the coming general election.
“There are those who want a retired 93-year-old to be prime minister. No country wants this, including Zimbabwe,” he was quoted as saying by the BN Backbenchers Council (BNBBC) portal.
Najib was referring to Robert Mugabe, 93, who was ousted as Zimbabwe's president last November following a military coup.
Meanwhile, Bernama quoted Najib as stating that the opposition is in a “state of depression” for wanting a 93-year-old politician to helm the nation.
The prime minister, who was speaking in Sabah, also emphasised that political stability is a prerequisite for Malaysia’s progress.
As such, he said the people should not take for granted the political stability that had been established by the BN government.
"I recently visited a country which gained independence earlier than Malaysia but its wealth was just one-third of Malaysia's,” he said, adding that the country was embroiled in civil strife and there was no political stability.
"If we have a situation where the people are in conflict with one another or there is no political stability, the country will not progress,” he added.
PM warns against changing government
Najib also cautioned Malaysians against arbitrarily changing the government.
"We cannot take peace for granted. In the past when we faced the communist threat and we strived for independence, we knew the value of independence and peace.
“However, after the nation began to enjoy peace and harmony, we became forgetful and took peace for granted. Sometimes, we feel that we are not in dire straits and we can change the government.
"But you must remember, ladies and gentlemen, that a mistake (of arbitrarily changing the government) can destroy the state and country. Right, ladies and gentlemen?” he asked and was greeted with resounding applause and calls of “right” from the gathering.
Najib said the BN government had proven its capability and brought progress to Malaysia day by day.
He said the BN government did not just talk or make empty promises like the opposition parties but worked hard to fulfil the aspirations of the people, including bringing development to the rural communities.
“We must look forward, not just for today but for the next 30 years by way of the National Transformation 2050 (TN50),” he added.
Najib said development plans for Malaysia drawn up today through the Transformasi Nasional 50 (TN50) initiative were for the future of the young generation of today and tomorrow.
For example, he said, the implementation of several phases of the RM20-billion Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah, the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) that would be ready in October and the eco-tourism project in Tanjung Aru via an RM500-million easy grant to Sabah were for the future generations.
In addition, he said, the government had also approved RM1 billion for Sabah under Budget 2018 to repair dilapidated schools to provide a comfortable learning environment for students.
Najib said all these were being implemented through inclusive development so that the rural people could progress like their counterparts in the urban centres.