KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — Malaysia will be able to overcome its national debt problem as it is not an economically-weak nation, and can recover most of its financial losses from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, PKR’s Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said.
Anwar acknowledged that Malaysia’s total reported debt and liabilities exceeding RM1 trillion is a “major problem”, but believed it was necessary to disclose it and felt it would not be an insurmountable challenge.
“People question why tell the story, but this is a new and transparent government.
“We’ll have to deal with the effects as they are, but this is not something astounding like in the case of some countries in the past — Greece,” the PKR president-elect said in an interview with newswire Bloomberg.
“We are able to overcome this challenge because as I said, the fundamentals are strong.
“Yes, it is weak compared to the position we had in the last two years, but this is nowhere close to a fragile, weak economy as faced by many developing countries,” he added when describing Malaysia’s strong economic fundamentals.
As for the matter of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the 1MDB scandal that he has been allegedly implicated in, Anwar said he has forgiven the former leader.
“I’ve said at a personal level, I have forgiven him. I don’t intend to pursue any action against him, whatever crime he perpetrated against me, but the squandering of billions from the public purse is an issue that must be investigated,” said Anwar, who was jailed during the Najib administration over the Sodomy II case before being pardoned this year.
Anwar said due process should take place in the 1MDB case and that the judiciary should be seen as “credible, professional and independent” in the matter, adding that he believes the current attorney general and chief justice represent the new mood in the country for judicial independence.
As for the new Pakatan Harapan (OH) government’s efforts to tackle corruption and 1MDB-related matters, Anwar said: “Give credit to Mahathir, in the last few months, I think a lot of work has been done with this regard.”
“It’s more complex than we thought. We are getting enough cooperation from the Department of Justice of the United States, Switzerland and some other countries.
“I believe we will move gradually. We can’t recoup all the losses, the expensive yacht cannot be sold at the same price, but we are able to recoup at least, I believe, most of the money squandered,” he said of the 1MDB case and a luxury yacht seized by Malaysia.
As for the mega projects by Chinese firms that have been scrapped, Anwar pointed out that Malaysia’s review was specifically on projects that were done in a “questionable, dubious manner” during the previous administration.
He added that it was directed at the companies only, and not the Chinese government.
“And I think Mahathir represents the sentiment in the country that firstly, we cannot continue with these mammoth projects at a time when the economy is struggling. Secondly, it’s confined to these companies,” he was quoted as saying.
Anwar, who is expected to take over from Dr Mahathir as prime minister in the future, gave credit to the latter’s efforts in reassuring Malaysia’s key trade partner and economic superpower China.
“Mahathir took the initiative, visiting China, assuring them that the bilateral relations, trade, investments with China must and will continue,” he said in the same interview.