Najib Razak, the embattled former PM of Malaysia hit back at PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Lim Guan Eng, the Finance Minister.
Najib questioned the recent announcement by Dr Mahathir that the government’s debt to the GDP is now 65%, asking whether it was a political narrative or based on facts.
He seems to advise the new government not to go into a political narrative, saying the figure of the debt of RM1 trillion that Dr Mahathir said is without giving any details.
“Without any details of what you mean will just unsettle the financial markets, alarm the credit rating agencies and investors confidence in our institutions such as our Bank Negara Malaysia,” wrote Najib in a Facebook posting.
The post appeared yesterday and has since then received thousands of likes but also thousands of negative comments.
He said the Bursa Malaysia index fell as “a result of these alarming and confusing statements from Dr Mahathir.”
Bursa’s index fell 40.78 points today or 2.21% while the Indonesian stock index added 0.71% yesterday.
Najib quoted the business news-portal The EdgeMarkets which said this sharp fall in our share market was contributed by concern on our public debt.
“Surely this fall would affect our funds such as EPF and PNB and could lower the dividend rates for its members for the year.”
He also lambasted Dr Mahathir on statements that Malaysia should not worry about “our country’s sovereign credit ratings being downgraded will result in further rocking the confidence in our institutions.”
Najib was fearful of any downgrade of Malaysia’s rating.
He focused his electoral campaign on what he called his achievements – that is stable ratings from the international rating agencies – and the massive expenditures in the rail and road sectors.
However, Azmin Ali, the new Economic Minister said mega projects by the previous Barisan Nasional government had contributed to the “almost RM1 trillion national debt.”
Azmin said the amount had set off a major alarm in the new Pakatan Harapan government.
“We have to look at the details on what contributed to this huge debt of almost RM1 trillion.
“Part of it was because the processes were not open, not transparent and most (mega) projects were off-budget. It was not under or part of the national budget,” he said.
Najib warned the Pakatan regime that while they may want to slander and “put all the blame on me to give a perception of a dire financial position to justify why you cannot deliver on your manifesto promises” and to massively cut the civil service, they must remember that the country and our people come first.
“You can also issue misleading statements on 1MDB or tell half the story about it to blame me but the time to play politics is over.”
Dr Mahathir is yet to respond to Najib’s missive on the economic situation of the country.
But yesterday, Dr Mahathir made public his to-do list: cut costs, rein in US$252 billion debt and review the MH370 search contract.
The new Prime Minister is moving swiftly to stabilise the nation’s finances.
While Najib accused Dr Mahathir of cutting job in the civil service to salvage Pakatan’s electoral promises, the new PM is not budging in cutting thousands of government workers jobs.
State agencies will be dissolved and some projects could be aborted as Mahathir moves to cut the national debt of 1 trillion ringgit (US$251 billion).