CYBERJAYA, Malaysia - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he is "past his quiet stage" and openly called for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to step down in order to save the country and Umno.
The former prime minister also said Najib's performance as premier was worse than his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
"If Umno wants to be saved, it has to change its leader. Najib has too many scandals, and he cannot seem to respond to them.
"A good leader should administer a country the right way. It cannot be making its own decision, or secretive decisions," said Dr Mahathir after giving an address at the What Youth Should Know leadership conference here yesterday.
Dr Mahathir said he felt he should speak up as the country's global reputation had worsened during Najib's tenure.
"I was told to do things quietly, but I have been quiet for four years and to no effect. The idea is that we should just have a quiet chat; we are past that quiet stage.
"I had high hopes for Najib when he replaced Pak Lah (Abdullah). But Najib's performance is worse.
"I am not angry. I'm just thinking of our country. I have been keeping quiet over the last few years but I am past my quiet stage," he said.
Asked who he thinks was most suitable to replace Najib, Dr Mahathir said his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would be the most qualified based on Umno's constitution, but stopped short of endorsing Muhyiddin.
"There are many qualified people, but according to the party's constitution, the deputy would be the most eligible.
"But I have lost faith in people. When people get appointed, they appear as the cleanest person, the least corrupt, but once they have power they start to misbehave. So I don't know," said Dr Mahathir.
Earlier, Dr Mahathir also answered many current controversial issues during a no-holds-barred question-and-answer session.
Among the topics he addressed were on hudud law, the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder and racial relations.