KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — The “arrogant” attitude purportedly shown by a political secretary to a minister towards investors had cost Malaysia much-needed funds when Pakatan Harapan (PH) occupied Putrajaya, former two-time prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
However, Dr Mahathir claimed several businessmen from the Chinese community had complained about the political secretary’s “arrogance” to him as he was the head of the PH administration back then.
“Well I cannot cite other cases, I only cited one as an example. There was one where he threatened to take back the project for one dollar. That is part of the agreement they had. But other business people, the Chinese, told me that he is very arrogant, that’s the word they used.
“He behaved as if he was the minister. Of course he has the ears of the minister, but for a political secretary, you are supposed to report on the politics of the country, not go around implementing government policies,” the 96-year-old said during his roundtable with the media on his new book coming out this Sunday.
He said it was because of such an attitude that Malaysia lost potential foreign investors who felt that the PH administration was not sympathetic to their cause.
Dr Mahathir did not disclose the name of the aide during the media session. However, from various allusions made during the conversation, it could be inferred that he was speaking of Damansara MP Tony Pua who was at that time political secretary to then finance minister Lim Guan Eng.
Dr Mahathir also said that he tended to favour business people because they brought the country much needed fund injections. He said that a political secretary should not be going around threatening the business community as such.
“The government must not threaten investors, we have to be friendly with them. We want investors to come into the country bringing money, expertise and the like.
“Because of this person, a lot of business people were against the government because they think that the government is not sympathetic to their cause,” the Langkawi MP said.
Dr Mahathir said that contrary to public opinion, being PM a second time was difficult as he had to balance the needs and wants of the different political parties in the ruling coalition.
He claimed that Lim as finance minister had wanted to do away with all contracts the government made during Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s time as prime minister because he believed they were all “crooked”.
“But of course what Guan Eng feels is that the previous government, Najib’s government, was crooked, and therefore he should do away with all the contracts entered into with the previous government.
“You want to terminate the contract because you don’t agree with the cost. You terminate the contract, 20,000 workers will lose their job, subcontractors, contractors, suppliers, all of them would lose their income.
“So you can’t do that so easily. We had to take into consideration that although the contractor may have bribed the prime minister, he has given up a portion of his profit. So what he gets is much less than what was quoted,” he said.
Earlier today, Pua denied that he had ever “threatened” the developer of the Exchange 106 skyscraper at the Tun Razak Exchange in his previous role as the finance minister’s aide as alleged, adding that he had never met or spoken with the person in question.
Pua was seeking to clarify a news report by portal MalaysiaNow which had quoted Dr Mahathir’s upcoming memoir, noting that the excerpts mentioned cast negative aspersions on him and were clearly aimed at him even though he was not specifically named.