BEIJING, Aug 19 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad accused the previous Barisan National administration tonight of destroying the country and said it will not be easy for Malaysia to recover.
The prime minister also said his Vision 2020, the plan to turn Malaysia into a developed nation by that year, would likely be delayed.
He pointed out that when he first retired in 2003, he thought he had put in place the policies and strategy needed to achieve his ambition for the nation.
However, Dr Mahathir said subsequent administrations undid his efforts.
“Their approach included corruption. As a result, progress to (Vision) 2020 was halted,” he said.
The PM, who is on an official visit to China, was speaking to Malaysians living in Beijing at a special dinner where he also took questions from the floor.
Despite his prognosis, he still believed Malaysia could still achieve the goal, albeit on a different schedule.
“Now we will put in place the policies and strategies to achieve developed status later than 2020. Maybe 2025.”
He said the government, which came to power just over three months ago, was now faced with the problem of huge borrowings made by the previous administration.
Dr Mahathir cited as examples the High Speed Rail (HSR) and the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) as the main projects that were funded extensively through debt.
Some of the foreign loans also came with inordinately high interest rates while the deals these financed were also disadvantageous, he said.
“In the case of the ECRL, money was borrowed outside the country. The money does not come in and in the contracts it must be (given to) Chinese companies and they will use Chinese workers.”
He said a major reason for his visit to China was to renegotiate the terms of the loans from China and the contracts with Chinese companies.
Malaysia is hoping to convince China to cancel or at least postpone the ECRL and two gas pipeline projects here that allegedly feature suspicious payment structures and which a minister previously claimed was linked to the 1MDB corruption scandal.
“If you want to buy a diamond ring for your wife but you don’t have the money, so you borrow the money to buy.
“That is not wise. In real life the ‘ah long’ (loan sharks) will come after you. We are now trying to deal with bigger ‘ah long’,” he said.
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