PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Najib Razak hailed 2017 as marking a milestone in which his government redoubled efforts to ensure good governance, including by cracking down on the crony capitalism culture created by a “former leader”.
In his New Year message today, he said that “past mistakes” were not allowed to remain unaddressed.
He claimed the man had “selfish dynastic desires” to topple the government and fulfil his ambitions for his son.
Despite not naming the former leader behind these mistakes, the Umno president was obviously referring to PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was prime minister from 1981 to 2002, and under whose tenure Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) foreign exchange (forex) crisis had taken place.
Najib said some politicians like DAP’s Lim Kit Siang had long called for a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into forex losses from 1992 to 1994.
He said the inquiry was initiated last year, with its panel concluding that BNM’s losses of RM31.5 billion had “a significant negative impact on the economy of the country, whereby it deprived the country of development opportunities”.
“The Malaysian people had a right to know what had happened in the past, just as it is right that a newly reinvigorated MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) has shown wrongdoers that they will be rooted out, and just as it was right for me to announce last July that the government is cracking down on the crony capitalism culture created by a former leader,” he said.
He claimed the people had paid a heavy price so that a few friends of this “former leader” could make enormous profits, no matter the cost to the public.
“We made it clear that this has to end. Lapses of governance, in either the private or public sector, cannot be tolerated.
“They must be investigated and rectified — not just because this is necessary for Malaysia to continue on its path to high-income status, but because the people deserve nothing less.”
Najib also took a jab at opposition parties, saying they had an “honourable role” to scrutinise legislation and hold governments to account.
He said it was however neither honourable nor responsible to try to sabotage the economy by making wild and false claims that could undermine people’s welfare and livelihoods.
“Lying about your country for personal political gain is morally wrong — such people are betraying Malaysia,” he said.
“Neither is it acceptable for a former leader to attempt to overthrow a democratically-elected government in the hope that his ambitions for his son may be realised.
“In a democracy, all that should matter are the wishes of the people as expressed at the ballot box, not the selfish dynastic desires of one man,” he added.
Referring to the 14th general election (GE14) due by August next year, he said the people had a choice between a government that had continued to work for their betterment, with a clear direction and policies to move Malaysia forward, or parties that could only campaign negatively, hoping to cause public anger and unhappiness to win votes.
He claimed that these parties had nothing to offer Malaysians but division and populist illusions that would damage the country.
Najib also said the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and many respected independent global bodies had commended the government’s prudent handling of the economy.
“Electing the government is a serious business and we are confident in the wisdom of the people,” he said.
“We are confident that they will see through the false promises of certain parties, knowing who is working for the true interests of all Malaysians, and recognising who has the proven track record that has delivered and is continuing to deliver.”
Incidentally, Mahathir had offered an apology for mistakes he made during his political career at PBBM’s annual general meeting held in Shah Alam yesterday.