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BEIJING, Aug 19 — The message from the Malaysian government to businessmen is clear: No more cronyism and no more “kautim” (Cantonese for “all settled”) culture.
Speaking to Malaysian businessmen assembled in Beijing, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told them that simply winning over the prime minister was no longer any guarantee that their pitch will come to fruition.
“Nowadays you can’t talk to the PM, and the PM says ‘yes’ and the thing is done,” Dr Mahathir said.
“That is cronyism.”
Earlier, International Trade and Industry Minister Darrell Leiking also told businessmen to shun such abusive habits as using political connections in their favour.
“We should no longer practise old businesses [where] everything is easily kautim,” he said.
After returning as prime minister, Dr Mahathir said in an interview that he inherited a government rife with corrupt officials and practices, declaring most of the top echelon of the civil service to be tainted.
He also instituted a no-gift policy for his Cabinet members and their officials, limiting them to only accepting food and flowers as tokens.
Ministers were also made to declare their assets to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, as were Pakatan Harapan’s elected lawmakers.
The prime minister also repeatedly stressed the need for trustworthiness when addressing the country’s civil service, telling them that the fruits of corruption were not worth the price.
Malaysia remains mired in the 1MDB corruption scandal that is believed to have cost the country billions of ringgit and counting.
The country has charged former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak with money laundering, criminal breach of trust and abuse in relation to the transfer of RM42 million from a former 1MDB unit.