KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 — The government is considering selling some of its assets to further trim the national debt that is currently at valued RM686 billion, the prime minister said today.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave his assurance that any government asset sold, particularly its land, would only be to Malaysians and not foreigners.
“We still have some assets. In fact, if necessary we’ll sell government land belonging to the government.
“But of course, we’ll sell the land to Malaysians, not foreigners,” he told a news conference in Parliament here.
Dr Mahathir had earlier clarified in the Dewan Rakyat that the country’s gargantuan debt had been reduced from RM1 trillion to a more manageable level now because the GDP had increased.
“We have been able to recover quite a lot of money that was lost, that was kept by Singapore and all that. So that money has reduced the debt,” he added.
With respect to the East Coast Rail Link, the prime minister said the government is working hard to reduce its contract value because it would have to pay a huge sum in compensation if the 688km infrastructure project were to be cancelled.
Asked to respond to criticism by the Opposition on the sale of government assets, Dr Mahathir pointed out that the Barisan Nasional had not been against selling land to foreigners when it was in power.
“They can oppose, but they’re not in power. It is the Opposition’s job to oppose. The government’s job is to do what the government thinks is right.
“During their time, they didn’t oppose selling land to foreigners,” he said.