Mahathir Mohamed on Saturday (Feb 8) asked US President Donald Trump to resign in light of his “grossly unjust” Israel-Palestine peace plan.
The PM’s comments have gained him fans among US Democrats, but most Malaysian netizens are worried they could jeopardise trade.
The incident comes months after Mahathir angered India by criticising the Kashmir conflict, leading to a of boycott of Malaysian products, including palm oil.
Last year, the PM also asked Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to resign amid widespread protests over an extradition bill, but said the comments received no backlash from China.
Following his call for US President Donald Trump to resign from his post to “save America”, Malaysia’s nonagenarian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed has received flak online from netizens who are criticising him for not taking his own advice.
According to The Star, the PM first made the controversial comments on Saturday (Feb 8) at the Third Conference of the League of Parliamentarians for Al-Quds, an international group working pushing for human rights in Palestine.
The conference, held this year in Kuala Lumpur and attended by some 500 speakers, denounced the US’ Israel-Palestine peace plan, which Trump had dubbed “the deal of the century“.
According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), Mahathir called Trump’s deal “utterly unacceptable” and “grossly unjust”, saying it would bring more conflict to the Middle East.
According to The Star, when asked by reporters at the event if he had advice for the American leader, Mahathir said simply: “resign”.
The PM as added he wished the US Senate had made a better decision around Trump’s impeachment, describing the American head of state as “a man who denigrated his own country’s policy trying to use foreign pressure in order to win (the) election”.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Saturday advised US President Donald Trump to resign. Dr Mahathir claimed that Trump had “denigrated his own country’s policy.” pic.twitter.com/D7GWzqtMno
— The Star (@staronline) February 8, 2020
In a report by state news outlet Bernama, Mahathir added on Feb 10 that his comments were intended to help the US as a whole.
Bernama quoted him as saying: “I find that Americans are very nice people, but not President Trump. I asked him to resign to save America.”
Malaysia’s US Embassy said it was “disappointed” at Mahathir’s comments, which were “not in the spirit of the constructive dialogue that (had) long served as the foundation of US-Malaysia relations”.
As of Wednesday (Feb 12), Trump had not responded personally.
— U.S. Embassy KL (@usembassykl) February 9, 2020
While the nonagenarian’s cutting commentary won him new fans on social media, particularly American Democrats, most Malaysian netizens were nervous about the possibility that it could sour US-Malaysia relationships.
Last year, the PM’s criticism of the Kashmir conflict angered India and led to a of boycott of Malaysian palm oil, but his comments that Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam should resign amid ongoing protests over China’s extradition bill passed without backlash from China.
“If Trump decides not to do business with Malaysia in retaliation, who will save Malaysia then?” wrote a Twitter user with the handle @kptanb. “(PM), why are you continuously putting the country in the cross hairs (of trading partners) for the satisfaction of your own opinion?”
“India has already boycotted our palm oil. If the US as much as sneezes, Malaysia catches a cold. Please consider the consequences,” added a second netizen named @braderzam, while a third named @Andrew05302566 said: “The Malaysian economy is limping along – not very clever, is it, to piss off major countries and their investors?”
Amid the coronavirus situation in Wuhan, one netizen named @TheDivingJedi even joked that Mahathir should also ask Chinese Premier Xi Jinping resign “to save China”.
Other Twitter users also pointed out that despite asking Trump to resign, Mahathir himself had been vague about the date of his intended handover to successor Anwar Ibrahim.
“Many are asking Mahathir to honour the promise and spirit of the pre-GE14, publicly-announced PH agreement: resign by May 2020 and save Malaysia”, Twitter user E S Shankar said.
Another commenter named @jedimaster909 added: “Mahathir asked Carrie Lam to resign, asked Trump to resign, but he himself, an over-aged pensioner, doesn’t want to resign despite breaking his promises.”
“Mahathir is always like this. Always doing things that are ironic. People in this country have been asking him to resign, yet he can tell Trump to resign,” wrote a third commenter named @fifisafifisa.
A fourth netizen by the handle @imfsea_aruna said: “Well PM, isn’t it fair to state that you too should resign to save Malaysia? Yes, please resign and save our beloved country.”
However, at least one American Twitter user, Colin Sutherland, said he preferred Mahathir to Trump.
“I am moving to Malaysia,” he tweeted. “This guy is the only politician I seem to like.”