GEORGE TOWN: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today promised a better Malaysia, as he launched the start of a series of events leading up to the Aug 31 Merdeka celebrations.
He said Merdeka this year was more meaningful as the country had been freed of “iron-fist rule” and “kleptocracy”, the term frequently used by Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders to describe the administration of Najib Razak.
The prime minister, speaking at the launch of the National Month here, thanked Malaysians who voted in PH in the May polls.
“Even in the face of many obstacles and threats, the people were not afraid. As a result, we achieved success beyond our expectations.
“The people deserve to celebrate their achievement. Not many countries can change government without rioting, but because the rakyat’s victory is so big and clear, the previous administration had to concede defeat and surrender power,” he said at an event at Padang Kota Lama tonight.
Mahathir said as it was the people’s victory, they should show their joy by flying the Jalur Gemilang throughout the country.
“A lot of time must be spent to help the country recover, but with the support of the people, the government is able to overcome these problems in a stable environment,” he said.
He said the government was not interested in taking revenge, but vowed to take action against “those who have brought disaster” to the country.
“We will hold fast to the rule of law, to a leadership by law, even if the process takes time.
“We do not want to be cruel to anyone. We uphold justice. This is our promise. And we will hold on to this promise, even though it delays the process of punishing those we know are guilty,” he said.
Mahathir said the government wanted to reclaim Malaysia’s title as an “Asian Tiger”.
He said his administration could not “throw free money” as they did not want to abuse power.
“Believe me, when we develop the country, the people will not only benefit from this development, but also from job and business opportunities,” he said.
He promised to improve human rights and allow greater freedom of speech for Malaysians.
“The people are free to criticise the government,” he said, adding that punitive actions would not be taken against critics such as demotions and termination of contracts.