KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 ― Speaking before the international business community here today, Datuk Seri Najib Razak denounced the legacy of his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as being rife with cronyism and corruption.
Najib rarely uses international business platforms to criticise his political foes but today the Umno president said it was necessary to appeal to investors to avoid placing faith in an Opposition bloc led by a man with a track record for “cutting corners” and rolling out policies that only benefited his close allies.
“This government..will always be straight with the people and we will always do the right by the people,” Najib said in his keynote address at Invest Malaysia 2017, a private event for investors.
“We will always put their interests first, from economic welfare to security even if it's not the most popular thing to do..this is also one of the reasons I am not very popular with that certain nonagenarian.
“Under his leadership many corners were cut, and the Malaysian people had to pay a very high price so that a few of his friends benefitted,” the prime minister added.
Najib has increasingly targeted Dr Mahathir since the latter began a campaign to remove him, which included resigning from Umno, forming an Opposition party, and becoming chairman of the Pakatan Harapan pact.
Continuing with his salvo against the former PM, Najib said today his government was undoing much of the damage caused by Dr Mahathir's policies, such as by “cracking down on crony capitalism”.
Dr Mahathir had a preference for trickle-down economics that favoured select businessmen and companies, but which ended up concentrating wealth in a handful of elites.
“No more sweetheart deals. No more national follies kept going to stroke the ego of one man,” the BN chairman said.
Najib also warned of a campaign to discourage the business community from supporting his government through what he described as deliberate “misinformation” by the Opposition.
The BN chairman accused the Opposition of starting a drive to sabotage the economy through smear tactics that are often reported by pro-opposition press.
“There has in fact been a concerted campaign to send such misinformation overseas to damage Malaysia's economy for their own selfish political objectives.
“So if you receive these smears, or you read it in publications that do not check facts properly, please beware”.
The prime minister previously asserted that political rivals were aiming to undermine the economic success of his government in order to generate political support.
But Najib said they have been unsuccessful as Malaysia's economy continued to grow robustly and draw in investments.
He noted Malaysia's GDP has grown at an average of 4 per cent annually since he took office in 2009. This year alone trade increased to 24 per cent or RM430 billion compared to the same period last year.
Najib said the data proved investors remain confident in his government.