World

Malaysian politicians get tough ahead election announcement

Mahathir wants more control of China investments, Najib speaks of betrayal

PUTRAJAYA Election fever is heating up in Malaysia as more politicians made strident comments ahead of news that the Election Commission (EC) will hold a special meeting to decide key dates for the 14th general election this morning.

EC secretary Abdul Ghani Salleh said in a statement yesterday: "The meeting will be chaired by EC chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah who will discuss GE14 key dates such as writ and notice of election, nomination day, early voting day, polling day and electoral rolls that will be used in GE14, as well as other necessary preparations.

"A press conference will also be held at 12pm after the meeting."

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad fired an early salvo when he said China investors in Malaysia will face more scrutiny if he wins back power in the upcoming election.

Dr Mahathir, the opposition's candidate for prime minister, said in an interview on Friday that Chinese investment was welcome if companies set up operations in Malaysia, employed locals and brought in capital and technology to the country, reported Bloomberg.

This wasn't the case now, he said.

"Here we gain nothing from the investment," Dr Mahathir, 92, said in his office in Kuala Lumpur.

"We don't welcome that."

Dr Mahathir pointed to plans by Country Garden Holdings to invest US$100 billion (S$131 billion) in Johor to build apartments that cost upwards of RM1 million, reported Bloomberg. The median annual income in Malaysia was RM62,736 in 2016.

"We don't have enough people with wealth to buy all those very expensive flats, so you're bringing in foreigners," Dr Mahathir said.

"No country wants to have an influx of huge numbers of foreign people into their country."

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is seeking to extend his premiership for a third term, has dismissed the opposition's concerns of Chinese investment as "irresponsible politicians scare-mongering".

A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comments by Bloomberg.

DISAPPOINTED

Mr Najib, who is on a visit to Sabah and Sarawak, had tough words of his own for five-term Umno MP Mohd Shafie Apdal, who jumped ship in 2016 to form Parti Warisan Sabah.

"I was disappointed that when certain situations arose, Shafie stabbed me in the back... I still feel the pain, especially because it was done by a close friend," said Mr Najib yesterday in the Sabah town of Semporna, which is part of Mr Mohd Shafie's constituency.

Mr Najib said a leader is only as strong as the support he gets from his party, and that a party can only be strong if there is loyalty to the leader, reported The Star.

He said he had entrusted Mr Mohd Shafie to bring development to the state as the rural and regional development minister but claimed that the latter did not heed his advice to work with Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman.

"I gave extraordinary opportunities to Shafie to become the first Umno vice president from Sabah," said Mr Najib.

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