Tokyo— The Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Tun Mahathir Mohamad delivered the keynote speech at the 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia, where he reiterated that he will hand over the reins of the premiership to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim according to a standing agreement with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) ruling coalition, though he did not say when exactly this would come about, as no time frame has been set for this yet.
Dr Mahathir said, “I have agreed that Anwar will take over from me and I will adhere to my agreement. During the formation of the PH coalition, it was agreed that it would be led by me as the chairman.
We also (did) undertake that if I become PM, my term would be limited to a certain time, but the actual time is not spelled out.”
He said that “after a certain time” when he puts the economy “back in order,” he will be stepping down. This, he said, is the first priority and is one that needs to be addressed before the hand over to Mr Anwar.
“My undertaking is that I will step down after a certain amount of time to put the economy back in order.
We need to reduce the borrowings to a certain level where our money can be used for the development needed.”
He also mentioned that one challenge he faces is with helping people shift from a mindset of being dependent on handouts from the government.
Unlike the previous administration, PH is not in the habit of giving out “free money,” which has not made it popular with people.
But it is necessary to be this way, the Prime Minister added.
He said, ”The previous government was fond of giving free money to the people. Everybody got free money. If you’re a bachelor, you get RM450, fisherman, RM300. They were given money for doing nothing.
Now we have taken over and carry this burden of huge debt. We don’t have money and we cannot give free money to the people. Because of this, they don’t like us. But it has to be done.”
He stressed the need for the PH administration to be extremely cautious in management in order to address financial problems.
“We want people to have jobs and earn money. The government will also have enough wealth and we can pay our debt and create more jobs.”
He also cautioned that a country that depends on the government for handouts will never grow, but one that has hardworking citizens will enjoy prosperity and abundance.
Dr Mahathir, who has called himself an “interim prime minister” has said in the past that he would need two to three years to address Malaysia’s problems and that he will not serve a full term.
Mr Anwar, on the other hand, has said that he expects to become Prime Minister in two years but acknowledged that Malaysia has serious problems and that Dr Mahathir must be given the space and time to address these. / TISG
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