Mahathir is often seen rather soft and protective of Najib. But that might not be true anymore. The former premier said both Abdullah and Najib will win the Umno election by manipulation.

“I believe Abdullah will try to manipulate by giving money and perhaps Datuk Seri Najib can win by manipulation,” Malaysian Insider quoted him commenting on Umno party elections due in December.

Dr Mahathir also said that while the Umno elections may be easy to manipulate, the general elections were more difficult to rig.

“If he (Najib) is not competing for the Umno presidency, he’ll be competing for Umno deputy president.

He may have to compete against Muhyiddin. There is a possibility that Muhyiddin would win and Najib would lose.

“Even though Abdullah has announced the date of the handover, Datuk Seri Najib is not going to receive his reward,” the online news portal added.

Traditionally whoever becomes Umno president becomes the prime minister; likewise whoever wins the post of Umno deputy president automatically becomes the deputy prime minister.

However, when asked if he was declaring his outright support for Muhyiddin, Dr Mahathir only smiled and said: “I support anyone. I’m not an Umno member. I support anyone who wins.”