Dr M: Pakatan leaders took time to change ‘Opposition mindset’ after becoming ministers due to zeal to right old wrongs

Dr Mahathir revealed that even after becoming ministers, PH leaders continued to behave as if they were still in the Opposition, and that caused problems. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Dr Mahathir revealed that even after becoming ministers, PH leaders continued to behave as if they were still in the Opposition, and that caused problems. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said having been in Opposition for over six decades, many Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders needed time to make mindset adjustments after they were appointed as Cabinet members when he took over Putrajaya after winning the 14th general election.

In his latest book titled Capturing Hope: The Struggle Continues For A New Malaysia, Dr Mahathir revealed that even after becoming ministers, PH leaders continued to behave as if they were still in the Opposition, and that caused problems. 

“This was problematic, to put it simply, the government has to do things, and when you do things you open yourself to criticism. 

“When you’re outside the Government, you can criticise as much as you like, and your actions don’t come under as much intense scrutiny. 

“I needed to help the new Ministers get used to this,” he wrote. 

Dr Mahathir said his minister’s attitude towards investors was not friendly as they found it difficult to be on good terms with the business community. 

“When they were in the Opposition, they thought that the business community was stealing money from the Government and making a lot of money for itself.

“For example, they thought that they could abolish tolled roads. But, I said, “You can’t do that.

“The government has legally binding obligations to allow private highway operators to collect tolls. 

“If we were to renege on these obligations, we would have to compensate the operators or even buy them over. We didn’t have the money to do that or to take over the maintenance of the highways,” he wrote. 

Dr Mahathir said his new Cabinet colleagues were unable to handle being opposed at all times. 

He said it was a big change for them and it took time for them to understand that they could no longer do what they did before, which was criticising the government. 

“Often at the beginning of a Cabinet meeting, I would give them a long talk — until somebody pointed out that the talks took longer than the meeting. But I had to explain and clarify many issues to the Cabinet.

He wrote that when his newly appointed ministers discovered that the previous administration under Datuk Seri Najib Razak had awarded a contract that was very costly to the government, they wanted to terminate it.

“I had to point out that if we terminated the project without grounds, we would be in breach of contract. If we wanted to legally end a contract, we would have to compensate the other party,” he said. 

“If you seek to ‘punish’ the corrupt politicians of the previous Government by cancelling contracts, it’s not the politicians who suffer — they have already taken the money. It’s the contractor who suffers, as well as all those involved in doing the actual work: staff and workers, suppliers, subcontractors — there are a lot of entirely innocent parties depending on the contract.” he pointed out.

He said a lot of the “Opposition mindset” came from zeal to right the wrongs of Najib’s government. 

Dr Mahathir’s book will contain his version of the events that led to the abrupt shake-up and collapse of the PH government he led in the aftermath of GE14. 

Capturing Hope: The Struggle Continues For A New Malaysia is available for sale from today.

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