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PUTRAJAYA, May 8 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has touted rooting out corruption as one of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) biggest achievements as a first-time government, ahead of the one-year anniversary of its general election win last year.
According to the prime minister, PH is proud that the public has indicated that it is no longer burdened by the culture and expectation of having to pay bribes in order to achieve something.
“Today, people don’t complain so much about corruption. Now, we don’t have people complaining that they had difficulties doing everything because of the demand to be paid some extra payment and all that.
“And people are getting approval much more quickly than before. That for us is also an achievement,” he told a group media interview ahead of the administration’s anniversary.
“That people are quite happy to have us, of course, it is something that we value,” the prime minister added.
Dr Mahathir also dismissed any criticisms of his government’s crusade against corruption to rent-seekers who had previously benefited from such corruption under Barisan Nasional (BN).
“This criticism comes from the very people who before created all the problems. What we’re doing is we’re trying to resolve problems created by them,” he said, referring to the country’s depleted coffers and punishments against dissenters.
In the same interview, Dr Mahathir also lauded the success in renegotiating the Bandar Malaysia and the East Coast Railway Link’s deals, which have so far saved Putrajaya billions of ringgit.
He also reiterated his claim that some civil servants are against PH’s anti-corruption drive, since it has deprived them of earning “extra pay.”
In addition, Dr Mahathir also conceded that there are sections of the public that are unsatisfied with PH for cutting down on pork-barrel politics and cash handouts.
“Buying support with money is corruption. We cannot do that, and even if we were to do it, we cannot since we don’t have the money,” he said.
“There are many of those who used to receive a lot of money. Even though they hated the old government, they are disappointed because the new government does not give them money.”
To address this, Dr Mahathir said the government will continue efforts to address stagnating wages.
“It is difficult [to change], but we’re going to make people feel it’s normal for them to not be supported by this money After some time, these people will surely appreciate it,” he added.
Last year, Dr Mahathir said there are thousands of graft cases from Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration and the major ones mainly involved Umno leaders.
Najib himself is facing 42 charges involving scandal-plagued 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), from money laundering and criminal breach of trust to abuse of power.