Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad made a bold statement during a recent interview with The Financial Times, seemingly taking a jibe at the ruling party here.
92-year-old Dr Mahathir made history earlier this month by defeating the incumbent at the polls and ushering in Malaysia’s first transition of power since independence, at the watershed 2018 Malaysian General Election.
Mahathir, who helped establish the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in power and served as Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, stepped out of retirement and left the ruling party to lead the opposition. Breaking the BN’s six-decade long monopoly, Mahathir beat his one-time protégé Najib Razak and became the world’s oldest head of government.
Implying that the stunning election upset he led across the causeway may have a ripple effect in Singapore, Dr Mahathir said: “I think the people of Singapore, like the people in Malaysia, must be tired of having the same government, the same party since independence.”
Dr Mahathir’s bold remark comes amid widespread speculation that his recent victory at the polls may have a dampening effect on relations between Malaysia in Singapore. Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that he met Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for just 30 minutes after Lee travelled all the way to Putrajaya to congratulate him on his electoral win.
More recently, Dr Mahathir’s announcement that Malaysia is pulling out of the widely anticipated KL-Singapore High Speed Rail project has contributed to talk that the strained relations Singapore and Malaysia shared before Mahathir retired and came back might return.
At the press conference where he announced that Malaysia is pulling out of the multibillion-dollar project, Dr Mahathir was asked whether the decision has been communicated to Singapore. He simply told reporters, “I don’t know.”
The Ministry of Transport here said – after the world got to know about Malaysia’s plans to scrap the project – that it has yet to receive official confirmation from Malaysia.