KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said he intends to keep rebutting criticism by Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his predecessor and former prime minister now reduced to an ordinary Opposition lawmaker.
Najib has taken on the informal role as Lim’s critic-in-chief, using his social media accounts to deliver often-derisive critiques of the latter’s performance at the Finance Ministry.
Lim has responded no less regularly or antagonistically, with many of his official statements appearing to be crafted for the express attention of his predecessor rather than the general public.
Despite calls for him to end the sniping and concentrate on his portfolio, Lim told the media during his visit to Hong Kong this week that he did not plan to stop answering Najib, insisting that open discourse should be a facet of the so-called “New Malaysia”.
Awang Azman Awang Pawi, a politics professor at the University of Malaya, told the South China Morning Post that these exchanges could be ultimately positive.
“Investors will understand that the new government means business when it comes to being transparent and incorruptible it enhances the investment landscape in the long run,” he was quoted as saying.
Among topics that Lim and Najib have clashed over include the true extent of Malaysia’s debt; the former places this as over RM1 trillion while the latter insists it is officially a third less.
They have also traded barbs over topics such as forms of taxation, the performance of the Malaysian currency, and the government’s accounting standards, among others.
Lim has also openly accused the Najib administration of “robbing” businesses of billions in tax refunds, claiming the defeated BN administration booked monies meant to be returned to firms as revenue for immediate spending.