Malaysia should focus on inflation and its economy — not elections: Mahathir Anwar
The government should be focused on weeding out corruption and fine-tuning its economic management of the country, Mahathir said.
The dissolution comes after the government handed down its 2023 budget on Friday. While leaner than last year, it is one of the country’s biggest budgets with planned government spending of $372.3 billion (US$80 billion). Mahathir , as well as opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who leads the Pakatan Harapan party, both opposed conducting early election s due to the monsoon and flood season which could affect voter turnout or put voters in harm’s way. The month of November typically faces big floods, Mahathir said. “If there is an election , the government is banking on the obstruction to voters to voting because of the bad weather, in order to get their own people to support them. So this is not a very good time for election ,” he said. Additionally, many voters had received bribes from the government to vote, Mahathir told CNBC in an exclusive interview last Thursday.The government should be focused on weeding out corruption and fine-tuning its economic management of the country, Mahathir said. “The current government is not focusing on … getting rid of corruption — the government itself is corrupt,” he said. “As you know, the leadership of the government party is involved in corruption and they are also facing court action for their past misdeeds.” “They are not going to be able to tackle the problem. Because right from the very top, they are corrupt.” The 97-year old Mahathir , who holds the record of being Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister, is set to contest in the election with his new party, Gerakan Tanah Air.He expressed concerns that former prime minister Najib’s UMNO party could win the election despite the 1MDB scandal, as the party is backed by “diehard supporters” who still believed in Najib’s innocence. When asked if he could work with the opposition party, Pakatan Harapan, to contest the election and establish a cleaner government, he said: “No, I cannot work with these people because they are corrupt — right through from the top to the bottom.”Anwar told CNBC that if Mahathir ‘s primary concern was corruption , then he should be more supportive of Pakatan Harapan, which he said has been consistent in its fight against corruption for many years. “I share Dr Mahathir ‘s view that we must eradicate corruption in order for the country to progress. This means dealing with all forms of corruption ,” he said. “We cannot confine the anti- corruption drive to political opponents and enemies while turning a blind eye to the excesses happening amongst political allies, including former leaders who have enriched themselves and their families.”Like Mahathir , he said the government should be focusing on problems such as record-high food inflation. “Under UMNO and Najib, [the government] utterly failed to implement a coherent national food security plan. Their failure is now causing tremendous hardship for Malaysian families today,” he said. There are other problems such as high youth unemployment, lack of jobs due to low domestic and foreign investments, struggling small- and medium-sized enterprises hurt by the pandemic and failed social safety nets for the country’s poor, Anwar added. “I support having an election as soon as it is safe to do so,” Anwar said, referring to safe campaigning and voting after the monsoon season.