KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 2): Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the biggest wish for the new government in 2019 is to build a government free of corruption.
He said fighting against corruption is very crucial, as the previous government’s downfall was mainly due to corruption as well.
“Therefore, we have to avoid corruption, and we will take action against anybody regardless of their position,” he said in a recent interview with Sin Chew Daily.
Dr Mahathir said he wants to ensure everybody abides by the rule of law, regardless of whether they are Malay rulers or ordinary citizens; otherwise the whole system would collapse.
Asked about his New Year wish list, Dr Mahathir said his personal wish list is not important.
“I know everyone is hoping to have new things in the New Year. However, because Pakatan Harapan government has just taken over from Barisan Nasional government, certain things may not be new. [We are] busy restoring the government, and we have to make changes. We have to make a lot of changes, and we have to stick to them,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said the government will continue what it has been doing in the seven months after taking over Putrajaya, including ensuring Pakatan Harapan’s policies can be implemented properly, as well as cleansing the government by sacking political appointees.
“Now, we hope to see that the government could implement what we have planned,” he said.
Dr Mahathir conceded that the new government’s intention to do away with the culture of rewarding political party members through giving out government contracts or political [appointments] has upset certain party members within Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
“What we have seen before is, the anti-corruption and enforcement agencies were not able to stop the previous government from being corrupted, so we are putting all our effort in fighting against corruption,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said it is more important for Malaysia to adhere to its direction to fight against corruption.
“Even there is no way to have zero-corruption, at least corruption activities have been reduced today, this is a new Malaysia,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also admitted that during his tenure as the fourth Prime Minister, there had been corruption under his watch already.
“But it (corruption) did not happen at Prime Minister level, it is of course happening at the lower level (of civil officers), which we want to get rid of today. We are watching closely those who went against the law, including political and government personnel.
“Unless we have very close scrutiny, corruption issues can happen without our knowledge,” he said.
Dr Mahathir conceded that there were certain people within Bersatu that could not accept that the government was being transparent and open in its administration style.
“Those who fought very hard for our victory today are feeling that they are being neglected. I don’t think it is fair for them, so if they can perform, those who are qualified should be given the right position, but it is not going to be like how they get reward from Umno in the past, let’s say they want to get contracts, this cannot be allowed,” he said.
In terms of economic prospects, Dr Mahathir said he foresees that it will remain slow for 2019, but added it is fortunate that Malaysia is a peaceful and stable country, as he believes these criteria could help foreign and local investors to perform well.
“When people accept that this is a stable country, they will invest here,” he said. — theedgemarkets.com