World

Mahathir: Inherited problems have to be fixed before I can step down

PM Mahathir says they will make most of the corrections within two years, vows to boost economy

PUTRAJAYA: Inherited problems from the previous government have to be fixed first before I can step down, said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday.

"We will make most of the corrections within a period of two years and after that I think the others will have less problems to face," he told a conference with the foreign media.

When pressed on whether he meant two years in power or from now, he replied: "I don't know whether it is three years or two years, but I am an interim Prime Minister," The Straits Times reported.

Dr Mahathir, who turns 94 in two months, said that one of the issues already dealt with in the first 12 months of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration was corruption, "so now I think it is the economy" that his government will focus on this year.

"There is very little corruption now.

"People can do business with the government now without paying extra. That is a very important achievement that contributes towards the stability of the economy," he said.

PH leaders have claimed that the ousted Barisan Nasional (BN), which Dr Mahathir led for 22 years up to 2003, had left behind RM1.1 trillion (S$360 billion) in government liabilities, with several overpriced deals in the offing, such as the now renegotiated East Coast Rail Link and postponed High-Speed Rail to Singapore.

The government has also in recent months dedicated more than RM23 billion to bailing out land development authority Felda and Muslim pilgrimage fund Tabung Haji, important institutions for the Malay majority.

Dr Mahathir also vowed to boost the economy under a model of "shared prosperity" in a bid to stem criticism that his government had failed to deliver on promised reforms since taking power a year ago, reported Reuters.

Dr Mahathir said the government planned to raise living standards, increase purchasing power and reduce wealth disparities along class and ethnic lines.

"The aim of shared prosperity is to provide a decent standard of living to all Malaysians," he said.

Dr Mahathir accused political opponents of mining racial and religious issues in a bid to distract from the alleged corruption of the previous administration.

"Even though their wrongdoing has been exposed, Najib and his supporters are still disputing the accounts of their abuses, graft and deception."

UNITED

At another event to celebrate the first anniversary of PH yesterday, he said the coalition needs to be united and if its component parties cannot put aside their differences, Malaysia would become a "failed state", The Star reported.

Dr Mahathir said: "These four parties came together to help topple the previous Barisan Nasional administration underNajib Razak.

"But if we cannot put aside our differences, things will get worse, the country will suffer and Malaysia would be in danger of becoming a failed state."

WORLD