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After showing his intention to get into politics at a higher level in the Pakatan Harapan government, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir’s son Mukhriz Mahathir now says he is not in a rush for any ministerial posts.
The businessman-turned-politician insisted that he does not view his political career as a race. In an interview with Nikkei Asian Review this year, Mukhriz had said he will take up bigger roles if he was summoned.
He also said he supported his father Dr Mahathir to remain the Prime Minister of Malaysia until the end of the five-year term, ignoring the fact there is a deal between Pakatan parties for Mahathir to quit after two years in power.
With his statement that he needs time to complete his work which he started in the state of Kedah, Mukhriz kills the swirling rumours that he is joining his father’s Cabinet soon.
He is the only son of Dr Mahathir who is involved in politics and he re-assumed the role as Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of Kedah which he lost after he quit the post in February 2017.
Mukhriz then said he resigned because of criticism he voiced against Najib Razak who was embroiled in the 1MDB scandal.
The 54-year old son of Mahathir spoke to SCMP on his political future at Federal level and on the state of Kedah’s chances to win big in the wake of the U.S.-China trade war.
He regained his position in Kedah after Pakatan’s resounding victory in May 2018 when it unexpectedly defeated the Barisan Nasional helmed by Najib.
Mukhriz told SCMP’s The Week that one of the sore points of the bruising political battle was that he was not able to fully execute his plans in his first tenure as Menteri Besar of Kedah.
“You have to remember that the last time I was here, I did not finish my term. I did barely three years. I did not have time to even leave a legacy if you want to call it that,” he said in the wide-ranging interview in Alor Setar, the capital of Kedah.
“I am easy. I am in no rush. It’s not as if I have ambitions of you know, ‘Oh, I have to be a minister at this point, and I want this ministry and not that’,” he said.
He believes his rule is key to the Pakatan’s new push to bridge inequality among the 13 states in Malaysia. Kedah is said to be the poorest among them.
Kedah and Trade War
As the US-China trade war drags on, Mukhriz believes Kedah could lure investors to the largely rural and agrarian state.
But he says this is a tougher nut to crack.
In the interview with the South China Morning Post he spoke of his plans to lift the largely agriculture-based state’s economy.
The fifth child and only political heir of Dr Mahathir Mohamad said ongoing efforts by Kedah and other states to draw in these Chinese investments had been helped partly by the high esteem in which Beijing’s leaders held his 94-year-old father.
“I get the sense that they have a certain level of respect for leaders that know what they want and have long-term experience … That sort of thing they acknowledge and respect,” he said.
Mukhriz said his state’s less-developed status was a boon in the current times.
Foreign investors would enjoy lower costs if they decided to sink their roots there.
Kedah is the birthplace of Dr Mahathir and is also known as Malaysia’s rice bowl contributing to 40 per cent of the country’s rice supply and is also home to 300,000 hectares of virgin jungle.
“As the trade war continues between the US and China, [the Chinese] must look elsewhere to assemble their goods. The most natural place would be where they source their components,” said Mukhriz. He thinks Kedah is the right place. -/TISG