KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today dismissed criticism over Khazanah Nasional’s possible involvement in the third national car project, saying the sovereign wealth fund is “free to do business”.
He was responding to MCA deputy president Wee Ka Siong who said the government’s decision to name Khazanah subsidiary Silterra as a possible partner for the project cast doubts on Putrajaya’s promise that public funds would not be used.
Not only was Silterra a wholly-owned subsidiary of Khazanah which Mahathir chairs, Wee said, it was also one of its biggest loss-making companies.
To this, Mahathir said: “If there is a company interested, they can invest.
“Khazanah is not the government. It is a company which is free to do business,” he said after chairing a Pakatan Harapan presidential council meeting at the Yayasan AlBukhary building here.
The prime minister also defended the inclusion of Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh and Bentong MP Wong Tack in the government’s Lynas review committee.
Some, including MCA’s Ti Lian Ker, had questioned the committee’s ability to be objective given that Fuziah and Wong have been long-time critics of the rare earths plant in Gebeng.
Fuziah, who is the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs, is leading the 10-member committee.
However, Mahathir said there were also other members who could give their opinions.
“It is not as if the committee is being dictated by two people.”
Institute of Strategic and International Studies economist Firdaos Rosli previously said it was “perplexing” that Fuziah was heading the committee as the matter comes under the energy, technology, science, climate change and environment ministry.
The plant in Kuantan has long been opposed by green groups over concerns that it produces dangerous radioactive waste.