KUALA LUMPUR – It was a near miracle that Malaysia was not bankrupted due to the damage done by the previous kleptocratic regime as they turned the nation’s coffers into their personal kitty, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
The prime minister said the damage was not just financial but institutional as well.
“One of the biggest challenges after successfully toppling the kleptocratic regime was mopping up the mess left behind and rebuilding the nation,” he said in his keynote address at the ISIS Malaysia Praxis Conference “Malaysia Beyond 2020”, here.
Dr Mahathir said it would take a lot of effort, time and money, adding that “what we found after we took over was far worse than what we believed was the damaged caused.”
“While 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad) is without doubt a monstrosity, we will never be able to fully fathom the damage it caused the nation,” he said.
Beyond the corruption and the financial shenanigans, the prime minister said, the whole machinery of Government was subverted and weakened.
He said a considerable amount of government revenue now have to go to pay debts, leaving inadequate funds for operation and development.
“It is a near miracle that this country was not bankrupted,” he said, adding that for the country to recover and to grow, the machinery of government must be restored and made efficient.
“This means zero corruption, if possible. All efforts have been made to achieve this. Maybe we have achieved some success because growth has been maintained,” he said.
He noted that some of the targets set out in the Vision 2020 crafted in 1991 by the government led by himself then towards turning Malaysia into a developed nation by 2020, would not be achievable by next year having been derailed by self-serving leaders.
These targets have not been abandoned but have been incorporated into the Shared Prosperity blueprint and what the nation was unable to achieve next year, hopefully would be achieved by 2030 and beyond, he said.
He said while the country aims to increase the incomes of all groups, ethnic, urban, rural or states, it must also work to upskill Malaysians in various sectors.
“The bottom line is that we want to provide a decent standard of living for all Malaysians and hopefully regain our status as an Asian Tiger,” he said.