Dr M asks Malaysians to be patient with pace of reforms

Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks in an exclusive interview with Malay Mail at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya June 21, 2018. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks in an exclusive interview with Malay Mail at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya June 21, 2018. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

PUTRAJAYA, June 21 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad urged Malaysians to be “a little bit more patient” with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration and its planned reforms, saying laws and procedures must be observed.

Explaining that even removing personalities from the previous administration would take time, the prime minister said that undoing policies from Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Barisan Nasional’s rule would require more of the same.

However, Dr Mahathir stressed that he was working non-stop to deliver the promised reforms.

“To correct things, just to remove a person, takes time. We have to study his background, what he has done, how much he has taken,” he said in an exclusive interview with Malay Mail at the Perdana Leadership Foundation here.

“To ask him to resign or sack him, all that takes time. You can’t do things just like that,” he added, as he snapped his fingers.

Dr Mahathir and the PH administration are racing against time to deliver on 60 election manifesto pledges, including 10 that are meant to be realised within 100 days of winning the general election.

Top among these is to file formal charges against Najib over the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) corruption scandal.

Earlier this week, the PM told Reuters that authorities have “an almost perfect case” against Najib for alleged embezzlement, misappropriation and bribery.

However, Najib continues to appear unfazed, even suggesting political persecution in the investigation against him.

Lower down the hierarchy, Dr Mahathir’s administration has replaced or is in the midst of replacing several high-ranking officials linked to the previous administration, including the attorney general as well as the heads of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Election Commission.

“I take time, I just cannot do it in one day. If I don’t work, of course, it will take ages. But I am working, in between giving interviews,” Dr Mahathir quipped.

Just this week, he was interviewed by Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, days before Malay Mail.

“We can’t do it overnight, everything takes time. Time is not waiting for you, time is there. I wish we can stop time, and I finish these files, but I cannot,” he added, pointing to the stack of pastel-coloured folders on top of his mahogany table.

“Be a little bit more patient,” he pleaded with the public.

When Malay Mail entered his office in the foundation headquarters at this morning, Dr Mahathir had already been working and meeting visitors for two hours. He still had his eyes on his folders, scanning each line, as preparations for the interview proceeded.

Dr Mahathir also chastised the market reaction towards the revelation of Malaysia’s financial status by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, saying it seemed like the market would prefer if Putrajaya had lied instead.

Financial daily The Edge reported this week that the FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Composite Index had fallen by 6.9 per cent to a five-month low on May 30, while the Employees’ Provident Fund saw its investment value in 10 public-listed companies drop by 12 per cent, or RM6.09 billion, in the month after PH’s win.

“The market must know this was created by the previous government that you supported. But when we’re taking corrective action to make the economy healthy, the market should be very happy,” the Langkawi MP said.

He also reiterated that figures much-loved by the market, such as the per capita income and the gross domestic product, are false indicators of Malaysia’s financial and economic state, since the numbers depend on mean values.

“These averages don’t tell you anything. You can drown in a river with the average depth of two feet,” he said to illustrate his point.

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