In his ‘vision’ for Malaysia’s economic future, a boastful message in which he eclipses the wrongdoings attributed to him, Malaysian PM Najib Razak said Mahathir Mohamad (without naming the former PM indeed) is a former leader who is obsessed with power.
“He wanted to continue ruling long into his retirement, and who blamed me for his son’s loss in the race to be UMNO’s vice-president in 2013,” said Najib.
“I had refused to conform to his ways as I firmly believed that Malaysia needed a new vision, away from the old ways that had led to the serious legacy problems that we had faced before and which were damaging the people’s welfare,” he said in the lengthy message.
Najib hit at Mahathir on a few occasions in the message he penned before he delivers his final budget speech at the Parliament on Friday before the upcoming elections in 2018.
Najib also said the former leader recently described BR1M (handouts) as an abuse of government funds – but he should try telling that to the recipients, said Najib.
“It is frankly cruel-hearted for anyone in the opposition to talk of taking away a programme that is designed to help ease the burden of millions.
“Everything we have done has been for the good of the people. And that includes taking many tough but necessary decisions that were not always popular,” he said.
Mahathir had said instead of giving handouts, the government should use that huge amount of money to upskill the low-income earners, in order to build a better future for them.
Najib also attacked Mahathir on subsidies, saying there was a need to rationalise subsidies that were insufficiently targeted.
“They were blanket subsidies on various goods, such as petrol, which had started during a former leader’s time and had ballooned to unsustainable proportions. By 2012, for instance, fuel subsidies alone had reached RM25 billion and accounted for 13.6% of the total national Budget,” he said.
On the 1MDB, he said the sovereign fund played a key role in solving the lop-sided power agreements signed by a former leader.
“When 1MDB entered the industry, it was the lowest bidder in all its agreements, thus saving Malaysia RM200 billion over the next 20 years. One research house’s report about the revised power agreements was simply titled “No more sweetheart deals”.
He also hinted that he will assist Islamist held state Kelantan, perhaps in a bid to cool down the Party Islam Se-Malaysia tempers before the close of the current session of the Parliament.
He said Kelantan, for instance, had been deliberately starved of development funds and deprived of critically-needed upgrades to their water infrastructure for decades by a former leader, just because it was held by an opposition party.
“To me, this is not fair, as clean water is essential for life and is the right of all Malaysians. Therefore, we helped Kelantan with a water restructuring agreement last year that will cost more than a billion ringgit.
“The people in Kelantan had also suffered from poor transportation links – resulting in many people having to endure slow, congested and dangerous car journeys when traveling between states.”
But the PAS is not really looking for such aids since they insist Kelantan is a rich state that does not really need government handouts.
They are in fact pressing Najib to put the nearest to the Hudud bill to vote in the current session of the Parliament, before the elections in order to cement their deal with the ruling Umno.