Reforming institutions is Pakatan’s ‘utmost priority’, PM tells investors

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks at the Invest Malaysia 2019 conference in Kuala Lumpur March 19, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks at the Invest Malaysia 2019 conference in Kuala Lumpur March 19, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today reiterated to global investors that his Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is fully committed to clean up public institutions even as he pushed for new technology and digital services to drive Malaysia’s economy forward.

The prime minister took the important opportunity to lay out PH’s economic policy at the Invest Malaysia 2019 conference, following concerns over the supposed lack of clear direction about its growth plans.

Dr Mahathir said his administration’s target for the first year had been to repair the corruption-tainting the country’s public institutions, that will then allow the government to focus on the digital economy, high-tech and high-wage manufacturing, and services sector.

“We are committed to economic growth with social justice. I will share with you today on our progress and plans in meeting those objectives,” he said in his keynote address at Invest Malaysia 2019 here.

“We can’t develop if we don’t grow our economy. We are committed to ensuring our policies are investor-friendly.

“Among them, the pillar on public governance reform is given the utmost priority aimed at restoring credibility and trustworthiness in public institutions,” he added.

The government lost nearly RM100 billion from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, pushing its finances off balance and forcing PH to rein in development spending, according to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Dr Mahathir had also said that Putrajaya lost more from other lopsided deals from infrastructure projects that benefitted cronies of then Barisan Nasional administration.

PH will celebrate its first year of the landmark 14th general election in less than two months.

Investors at the conference here were told that the coalition’s shock win gave the country an opportunity to end the rule of a corrupt government, and averted a “financial disaster”.

“I cannot imagine the disaster the nation would have been in if the majority of Malaysians did not rise to the occasion.

“We averted the financial disaster waiting to happen if the Ponzi scheme to cover the 1MDB hole was not discovered and reversed,” the PM said in his keynote address.

On its growth plan, Dr Mahathir announced incentives for large and smaller companies to embrace digital connectivity and data analytics, as the new government push for the digital economy.

“The government will encourage and provide incentives to investments and collaborations in turning Malaysia into a hub for digital services and communications,” he said.