Dr M off to a good start

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a press conference at PPBM headquarters in Petaling Jaya May 17, 2018. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a press conference at PPBM headquarters in Petaling Jaya May 17, 2018. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has embarked on a house cleaning exercise ever since he steered Pakatan Harapan (PH) to the May 9 general election victory, and one thing for sure was that he was not sweeping anything under the carpet.

He worked at breakneck speed to rectify what he deemed was wrong with the country, holding press conferences almost daily to the delight of the media who savoured the opportunity to ask anything under the sun from the man credited with bringing the mighty Barisan Nasional (BN) to its knees.

And there was no denying that Dr Mahathir, who took his oath of office as the prime minister before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on May 10, had so much on his plate.

For one, there was the business of forming the cabinet that was proving to be a trickier affair than expected for the chairman of PH that groups four parties, namely PKR, PPBM, DAP and Amanah.

Dr Mahathir had named PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as deputy prime minister, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng as finance minister, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu as defence minister and PPBM president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as home minister.

In addition, Dr Mahathir announced that he would hold the education portfolio while Wan Azizah would be in charge of women’s affairs and welfare, as well. He is expected to name other ministers in due course.

Next, he trained his sights on top government officials alleged to have been involved in issues that occurred before the general election such as the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali had been told to go on leave while Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad had resigned and reported for duty at the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah was transferred to the Public Service Department and had his contract shortened.

The man at the centre of the 1MDB fiasco, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak as well as his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, are barred from travelling abroad by the Immigration Department.

Police raided Najib’s private homes in Kuala Lumpur in the course of their investigation. Najib and 1MDB denied any wrongdoing. Dr Mahathir has pledged to retrieve billions of dollars said to have been siphoned off from 1MDB.

The public got a sense of the scale of the scandal when the 1MDB audit report, on Dr Mahathir’s directive, was declassified on Tuesday, revealing a litany of flaws and wrongdoings in how the strategic investment fund was managed.

Dr Mahathir-led PH won the keenly-fought election, toppling the Najib-led Barisan Nasional government — a coalition that was in power for 61 years.

Following the disastrous BN outing, Najib resigned as Umno president and BN chairman three days after the election.

As promised, PH kept its side of the bargain with the announcement by the Finance Ministry that the hated Goods and Services Tax (GST) would be zero-rated, effective June 1.

Another significant development over the past seven days was the setting up of the Council of Eminent Persons to advise the government on economic and financial matters in the transition of power process.

With a lifespan of only 100 days, the team is headed by former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin and its members comprise former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former Petronas president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Hassan Merican, business tycoon Robert Kuok and economist Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram.

The council, in turn, announced a five-member Institutional Reforms Committee comprising former Court of Appeal judge Datuk K. C. Vohrah, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Commissioner Datuk Mah Weng Kwai, National Patriots Association president Brigadier-General (rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji, Universiti Malaya Professor of Law Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi and National Human Rights Society president Datuk S. Ambiga.

The news just got better when PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was released yesterday after being granted a full pardon by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V.

He expressed his gratitude to the king and Dr Mahathir for expediting his release. Anwar was serving out a five-year jail sentence after being convicted of sodomy. He was initially due to have been released on June 8. — Bernama