KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad hopes to see the country’s economic performance return to that of the roaring 90s, or the zenith of his previous stint as prime minister.
From 1988 until the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the Malaysian economy boomed and had been characterised by blistering growth averaging 9 per cent annually.
Dr Mahathir said he would like to see the continued growth of Malaysia, by moving into the areas of business and technology.
“In terms of performance, it should be like the years (when) I was the (fourth) prime minister. The country has obviously and physically grown. You see people moving into new areas of business because things are going to change and your response must be quick. Nowadays, you talk about artificial intelligence and blockchain.
“You have to know something about that, for the man in my position, to resolve this problem or to apply this technology. You have to read also. I don’t have much time to read but I do read to keep myself updated with the latest technologies,” Dr Mahathir told The Star in an interview published today.
Almost a year since Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over the government in the last general election, Dr Mahathir said the ruling party should move faster to keep up with its plans, but said there are financial constraints.
“You borrow money and you don’t pay, you can be bankrupted.
“The economy still grows by four-something per cent. That, to me, is an achievement because despite the fact that we have to deal with the big problems, the economy of the country is still doing well,” The Star quoted him as saying.
Dr Mahathir said the financial issues will remain a problem for some time, which will cause the government to delay certain projects due to the lack of funds.
The PH chairman said the government must also be wary of its credit ratings.
“For example, when we allocate RM6 billion to rescue Felda, the rating agencies say we are going to suffer from a deficit in the government finances.
“We have to be careful in what we do and even in what we say,” Dr Mahathir said.
On his plans to get voters to return to PH in the next general election, the Langkawi MP said the government has to rebuild the economy to create job and businesses opportunities for the public.
“And on that score, we think people will give us another chance to continue with our plans and all that,” he said.