As the 1MDB row escalates, there are calls to sack PM Najib Razak

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is under pressure to explain a private bank account in his name which contains $700m. Photograph: Joshua Paul/AP

Mahathir Mohamad, modern Malaysia’s founding father and former leader, has called for a vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Najib Razak, accusing him of halting an investigation into corruption and buying politicians. “A vote of non-confidence is necessary now because Najib has made BN members of parliament beholden to him by giving them lucrative posts in the government,” Mahathir said on his blog, referring to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

Najib is facing calls to resign after reports that he pocketed nearly $700m (£456m) from the debt-laden state fund 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). 1MDB was launched in 2009 by Najib, who still chairs its advisory board. Critics say it has been opaque in explaining its dealings. Mahathir was once a patron and supporter of Najib but has now used his widespread influence to lead the call for Najib to step down on graft allegations, which the prime minister denies, calling them “political sabotage”. “Najib’s lack of respect for the law and constitution and his willingness to buy politicians and civil servants may mean the end of Parliamentary Democracy in Malaysia,” said Mahathir, 90, who ruled the country for 22 years.