KUALA LUMPUR: Leaders who no longer have the support of the people should step down, said former country premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pix). "If I was the Prime Minister today, I would resign. When I resigned, I did so on my own will, no one asked me to. If there are criticism, then make it easy for the country, and step down," he said when asked what would he do if he was the Prime Minister today. "A leader should always look behind him if he does have supporters. If he does not find there are people behind him, he should make it easy for the country and step down," he said in Centre For A Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) talk titled "The Malaysian Dilemma: The Good Doctor's Diagnosis and Prescription". Mahathir added that a leader should always remember his supporters and ensure that he fulfils their requests and wishes. Mahathir expressed his disappointment over certain issues such as the existence of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). "We should not have 1MDB at all, how is it national wealth if you borrow money? If you borrowed money from the chettiars, would you consider yourself rich? No! Because that is a loan!" he quipped. When asked about Malaysian tycoon Ananda Krishnan coming to 1MDB's aid by loaning money, Mahathir said that changed little, only instead of owing the banks now it is Ananda Krishnan. "The whole thing is now a controversy and berserabut (very messy)! They should come clean and have an independent audit done. All governmental bodies should have independent audits done," he said. "I didn't do this (independent audits) when I was a Prime Minister because I was not criticized as much!" he quipped. Though he hinted that the present leader should step down, he said he did not know who should replace him. "I don't know who would be the next successor, but not me for sure. I'm already old," said the 90 year old politician who is still sharp and witty. Though he had always chosen Malaysian's successors, he confesses that he often made bad choices. When asked about America being critical about the imprisonment of his once deputy Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Mahathir told for a country that has laws to imprison people without a trial even, they should not interfere in this. "Anwar Ibrahim is the American candidate for Malaysia. They should mind their own country and not interfere in other people's country. And if Anwar's daughter does contest in Permatang Pauh, well it is a family party, so must be replaced by a family member," he said sarcastically. Although he said he has been called many things - a dictator and even an extremist, he retains that he is a moderate and called for other moderates to speak up. "In the rising voices of extremists in the country, the moderates should start speaking up. Else people will not hear them. Recently we had a group of 25 moderates standing up with so many things being said to be Islamic. Some of it has nothing to do with being Islam." "Recently there were calls forbidding the Muslims wishing Merry Christmas. Then they should also stop the Chinese from saying Selamat Hari Raya, this would make them (the Chinese) Muslim!" Mahathir maintained that he had always had the support of Malaysians when in 1999 after the imprisonment of Anwar which costed him 300,000 Malay voters, the support of other races still allowed him to win the election with 2/3 majority. Touching on his support of Perkasa, who has been often touted to be an extremist group, Mahathir said he supports them when they stand up for the Malay rights as Umno has not been doing so. "I will not support them if they do other extremist things!" Meanwhile, Mahathir said New Economic Policy (NEP) has been a success and should be continued for a while more, it should eventually phased out slowly. "If NEP was successful what is the need to continue, some people ask. While we have managed to reduce the disparity among the races, the Malays are still not able to compete with the other races, they still need some time. But the NEP must be phased out slowly and it is being done slowly. Some of the measures done in the past is no more in existence. It's necessary to phase it out," he told in his key note speech. He told while there are some who take the provisions in the NEP as a symbol of power or status, this is not the actual truth. "The NEP is not a symbol of status, but it is a 'tongkat'. It is a crutch often used by the old and decrepit. That's the reason I don't use a tongkat!" he said with his usual wit.